Sally Nicholl’s Young Adult novel, The Silent Stars Go By, will whisk you away from the present day to the end of WWI – a time when Christmas was an old-fashioned affair, and societal expectations could be old-fashioned too, especially for young women.
When Margot, a reverend’s daughter, returns to her village for the festive period, she faces the prospect of seeing her fiancé, Harry, for the fist time since he went to war. But Margot is not the same person he left behind. Believing Harry to have been killed in the fighting, Margot was forced to make the hardest decision of her life alone. What should have been a happy reunion is now marred by a secret that weighs heavily on Margot’s conscience – the birth of their illegitimate child, James.
The narrative surrounding Margot and James holds the the emotional pull of the novel. James, now two years old, has been adopted by Margot’s own mother, and Margot’s yearning ache jumps off the page as she watches their interactions.
Margot no longer knows her place within the family, and the confusion she feels over her role in James’ life – where she is more than a sister yet less than a mother – leaks into other relationships too.
James’ adoption has saved Margot from becoming an outcast, but she is still on the outside, unable to reveal the truth or her pain. Fuelled by Harry’s return, Margot is also plagued by doubts and what-ifs. Should Harry know the truth? What would happen then? For them? For James? For her family?