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The Quietness

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  232 ratings  ·  46 reviews
When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published March 7th 2013 by Hot Key Books (first published March 1st 2013)
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3.75  · 
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 ·  232 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this novel aimed at young adults, we are transported back to Victorian London. It is 1870, and we meet fifteen-year-old Queenie who has a miserable standard of living in a slum area, sharing a room with her parents and siblings. She decides to leave one day, little realizing what horrors there are in the world beyond the only one she has known so far.

Across London, sixteen-year-old Ellen lives a different life. She has a beautiful home and a privileged existence. However, she is very lonely.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Quietness is a beautifully written and haunting tale of two girls in Victorian London. Queenie is poor, with a father who drinks and more siblings then they can feed. Ellen on the other hand is a privileged young lady. Both girls meet at the house of the Water sisters, Queenie is the maid and Ellen a ‘guest’.

There is much to love about The Quietness; apart from the wonderful writing you have two completely different characters, neither of which is preferable to the other. The alternating nar
Beth (bibliobeth)
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would give this four and a half stars if I could.The Quietness is a beautifully realised and original piece of work that has a bite of real history behind it. The author introduces us to two sisters that actually existed in Victorian England and were known collectively as the “Brixton Baby Farmers,” who were responsible for the deaths of nineteen infants by starvation. Our main characters, Ellen and Queenie become embroiled in this nasty business when Queenie is employed as a maid for the sist ...more

I loved the Quietness which I thought was a brilliantly engaging read as kept me fascinated from the first page until the last and gave real insight into the underbelly of Victorian society. If you enjoyed Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper or Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series you love this book.

The Quietness follows the story of two teenage girls. Ellen is from a rich family and lives a life of luxury on one side of London bridge and Queenie comes from a poor family and faces poverty on a daily
Serendipity Reviews
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on
Told from two perspectives in first and third person, this book portrays a very dark and realistic image of Victorian London. The two main characters, Queenie and Ellen’s are the complete opposite of each other and yet each suffers in their own way. The author takes both extremes and skilfully blends them together.
Queenie’s life is extremely hard. To have to fight for every morsel of food on a daily basis must have been indescribable. Yet she was
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was very moving. The Quietness is incredibly easy to read, I devoured it in almost one sitting. I absolutely loved the two main characters. My full review can be found here
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-teenage-books
An incredible Victorian drama - brutal and haunting, but an inspiring tale of courage at the same time.
Kayla Bellinger
I was having a lot of difficulty finding a book that begins with the letter Q for my reading challenge, and decided on The Quietness because the title sounded nice and the blurb sounded interesting. I honestly didn't have high expectations, and so this book blew me away a little bit.

The Quietness is set in London in 1870 and follows the lives of dual protagonists Queenie, the eldest child of a mostly penniless costermonger, and Ellen, the only child of a highly respected anatomist. Queenie's fam
Katriona Bee
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017
I thought I would love this book. I’ve been hyping myself up about “The Quietness” since it was published in 2013 but I never got around to reading it until now. And now that I have actually read it I’m not only feeling underwhelmed, I’m feeling sad and angry. I’m feeling betrayed. “The Quietness” with its gorgeous cover and interesting blurb seemed like a book that I would just have to like. I’m not quite sure why I was so certain it would be phenomenal but it’s kind of my own fault I was disap ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I haven't had much luck with historical fiction so accepting The Quietness for review was a risk. The books that I have read set in the past have been boring and slow-paced which put me off the genre - however, this book has completely changed my opinion!

Even though I don't have much to compare it too, so this review may be slightly biased, I still believe that The Quietness is a great novel. I have always loved history so it was a shame that I didn't have the same passion for historical fiction
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was very, very good. I loved both Queenie and Ellen, you really took to them from the first page of each of their stories. Ellen's Father was vile and sinister and you think that Queenie's Dad is horrible and cruel but the story changes your view of him by the end. I thought Jacob was nice at first so it was a shock when you find out about him and you really feel for Ellen when that happens. I did guess one of the twists in the story from about a third of the way in but the story unfol ...more
Fleur Hitchcock
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Would really like to give this book 4 and a half stars - I was totally wrapt, and loved it, my only complaint, and it was teeny and tiny, was that I loved the character that we were held back from, more than the one in the first person, and it pulled me out of the story. However, would utterly recommend it.
Megan Ruddy
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was lent this by my English teacher who thought that I would enjoy it, knowing that I love Victorian novels and enjoy it I did. The story is beautifully written, following two girls from very different backgrounds. I was very interested to read in the notes that the story is based in fact and the baby farming sisters were real characters tried for farming. I thoroughly enjoyed The Quietness.
Natasha Ngan
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
An absorbing, simply but beautifully written book that follows the intertwined lives of two girls in Victorian London. I fell hard for both girls - Queenie for her sheer determination and strength in the face of injustice, and Ellen for her rebellious streak and the sadness of a life without love - and really felt each turn of the story with them. A truly affecting little book.
Cora Tea Party Princess
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another audio book. Gosh am I getting through them.

This was wonderfully narrated, with the performer giving a defined set of characteristics for each character, which really brought the story to life.

There were times when I thought "I've read this before" but that's only because this book references real historical villains and I'm a lover of all things history.

Full review to come.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
John Naylor
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some of my recent reads have blurred the line about what young adult books are and what they can contain. This might cross that line yet it does it in a skillful and thoughtful way.

Victorian London isn't always my favourite setting for any book. This shows a new side of it which I had never heard or thought of before. It shows it from two very different perspectives. One struggles through life at the beginning and the other struggles with the events of the book.

I won't give spoilers but after r
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Rape and dead babies. Victorian England was dark.
Georgia (The Bibliomaniac Book Blog)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a brutal read. And I mean that in the best way possible. I know, it sounds odd to mark that as a good thing, but this story wouldn't work without the brutality. To soften the description would ruin the impact. It's quite fearless storytelling and it's all the better for it.

Queenie is brilliant. She's tough but at the same time quite naive. She's unprepared for the world beyond her family and the slum they live in and watching her slow realisation to what she's know all along, and not wan
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I actually want to give this book 3 1/2 stars.

I loved the short, sharp, snappy chapters that switched from the one lead character to the other. They did not allow the reader to get bored at any point.

My problem was that I became more interested in one of the characters, and so wanted to hurry back to her story to the detriment of the other. In addition, I initially found the switch between a first and third person narrator disconcerting, although I can understand, as events unfolded, why this w
Sallyann Van leeuwen
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, ya
3.5 stars. Fascinating story of two young girls in Victorian England. Queenie lives in the slums with her family who can't afford to keep them all feed and the other, a daughter of an upper class gentlemen. Both are trapped in their worlds, by their circumstances. When Queenie gets a job at a big house assisting with newborn babies, she is sure that she has the experience to keep them happy and safe. But these babies aren't like her little brothers and sisters, these babies are still and unusual ...more
Tiz. T.
A very good YA with NO romance! Huzzah!

This book was interesting, well written and engaging.

The two protagonists show two facet of Victorian's life: the rich lady and the slum gal. Yet, not everything is as sparkly, nor as glum as it seems. The hypocrisy of the time is also well exemplified, their disgusting view of women and the importance of "keeping the face" in spite of everything which was the true reason everything went downhill...

The sad tale of the baby farms and the often sad fate of b
[Audiobook version]

This just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed the overly dramatic audio narration, and appreciated the realistic ending (view spoiler) but the story itself was pretty thin -- the two main characters were passive and reactive, and I wanted to shake them into DOING SOMETHING. Also, I CAN'T IGNORE THIS: Ellen's father collects her bloody rags every time she has a period because ??? reasons??? No one in Ellen's hou
For Books' Sake
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The first YA novel by Alison Rattle, who has previous co-authored several non-fiction books about a wide range of subjects, The Quietness is a gripping, harrowing thriller about the emotive and repellent subject of Victorian baby farming.

When fourteen year old Queenie’s Da runs off after another of her siblings dies of starvation, Queenie’s Mam turns to prostitution to feed her family." (Excerpt from full review at For Books' Sake.)
This was really good, although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is overly fond of babies! Pretty grim stuff, but clearly well-researched, and the characters were wonderful - I loved the friendship developing between the two girls. The ending took me by surprise a bit, though (view spoiler) ...more
Sue Hyams
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this very much. A hard hitting story with a bitter sweet ending, the author pulls no punches at times. She paints a very good picture of Victorian society and the characters are well drawn. I felt that at times there wasn't enough sense of place but the story is more than strong enough to pull you in and keep you there.
Nov 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I have actually read a factual account of baby farming, and I felt like this book captured a lot of those elements really well. What I didn't like, and that was the cause of the three stars, was the characters and how I connected to them within the story. I wanted to, but it never happened. I'm having a run of a few only OK books, I wonder if it's me or just a reading slump?
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jun 24, 2015 12:14PM  

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Alison Rattle grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three teenage children, her partner - a carpenter - an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. ...more
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