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This Heavy Silence

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Strong, resilient, and deeply loyal, Dottie Connell farms her family’s three hundred acres in rural Ohio alone, having sacrificed love and family for land she does not own. A sudden, inexplicable event leaves the daughter of her childhood friend in her care. Pressured by her community to allow her former fiancé to raise the child, Dottie must face the past she has worked f ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2018 by Paraclete Press (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  169 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Melanie Griffin
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm giving this 3 stars because it is a gutsy book, especially as a first novel. The protagonist, a self-centered, manipulative middle-aged woman is hard to like -- impossible, really -- and it is in first person! It is hard to pull that off and still have readers willing to finish the book. In fact, there aren't many sympathetic characters in the book at all. Yet it is the characters that carry the book, and their slow transformations make it an interesting read.
I wish the author had fleshed o
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Good writing style, but the character was boring and selfish. Just...blah.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I could cry a thousand tears over this book. I miss the characters now that I'm done reading.

"This Heavy Silence" was leant to me by an elderly librarian, who cited it as her second favorite book of all time. I read the paperback, as opposed to my usual audiobook preference, and it was appropriate given that the story takes place on a rural farm.

The main character, Dottie, farms the land handed down to her from her father and she does it with meticulous, unyielding dedication to hard labor. Wh
Mar 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
The main character was stubborn, proud, and boring. This made it hard to read. The writing was forced, and overly dramatic, but still fell flat. I'm not sure why I finished this book. ...more
Alex Joyner
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nicole Mazzarella’s book, This Heavy Silence, comes with a seal of approval as a 2006 Christy Award winner in the first novel category. Like Catherine Marshall’s Christy, It, too, has a gauzy, hilly landscape on the cover, but its protagonist, Dottie Connell, is no Julie Andrews in the Alps. Dottie is a hard-bitten farmer who has been tending her Ohio family farm since her brother’s untimely death as a child. When we meet her in 1962 she is dealing with a fire that has killed her friend and frie ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dottie Connell has dedicated her life to the 300 acres of farm land that gives her life meaning, as it did her father and grandfather. Her childhood friend, grown into her lover, will join her and continue the legacy with their own family. When these plans go awry, her heart is broken and then hardened to prevent further pain. Dottie is a victim of the human condition, damaged by disappointment and betrayal, unable to show any weakness or need, keeping her distant from the warmth of a relationsh ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This novel rewards patient, mature readers who appreciate literary writing. It is impressive not only as a first novel, but also as a memorable work of literature. Mazzarella clearly has a gift and uses it well. The lyrical beauty of her writing immerses the reader in a possible world that chafes and soothes, repels and invites. Dottie is difficult to like—much less to sympathize with—but it is a testament to Mazzarella’s craft that despite Dottie’s off-putting choices, the story inexorably draw ...more
Sue Mika
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read it for a church book club discussion. It is much more compelling reading than I expected. A woman has given up everything for a 300 acre farm she doesn't really own. She really only knows how to relate to the land. She just can't figure out people. It makes you think about how to be a good mother, about your faith, and debts we owe ourselves and others. It's a very good book. ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Her writing reminds me of Wiley Cash, Marilyn Robinson or Jane Smiley. So many lessons in this book...some will be frustrated because so much is wasted in Dottie's life and all doesn't end well...pretty much like life :-). ...more
Marsha Carlson
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wistful story with interesting insight into the trials and tribulations of farming with some atypical plot twists. A good read!
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Nicely developed characters and well-desribed setting but didn't find the plot very compelling. ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was given this book to read for Christmas and enjoyed it. It received the "Christy" award so I wondered if it would have the same affect on me as the book "Christy" did. (I enjoyed reading the story very much but was left wanting more at the end).
It did leave me a bit unsatisfied at the end as I wished to see more loose ends tied up. The main character was definitely not very sympathetic. It was hard to stay with her as she continued on in her bitter, prideful, selfish ways without seeing her
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Finished this book a few days ago and can't decide if I really like it. The main character, Dottie Connell, is a single middle aged woman trying to run 300 acre farm in the 60s and 70s. She ends up raising a friend's child and has to confront some of her issues in the process. Here's what I liked:
1)The book is beautifully written. I was surprised on this one since she is a professor at the college and not a full time writer. Had this book been picked up by a secular publisher I think it would ha
Sep 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Dottie Connell is a middle-aged farm woman from Eastern Ohio. She is unmarried, but not unloved, and no stranger to lovemaking (a fact that would surprise the local townsfolk). With a modicum of success, she farms, and longs to own, the land her father farmed. But she struggles to place herself in community, holding herself apart, unable to develop sincere attachments to the people who come in and out of her life.

When Dottie's best friend dies and leaves her 8-year old daughter in Dottie's care
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Shannon by: Mikkee Hall
What a painful, but good book. The title of the book is apt because when I finished reading it, I felt the impact of the book sitting heavily on my chest.

It was interesting timing to read this book after finishing Dreams from My Father yesterday, because the questions that book raised were shadowed in this book. The main character, Dottie Connell, is a case study in what life is like without community or family.

Dottie is admirable in her determination to pursue the career she loves - farming -
Jan 11, 2008 rated it liked it
While browsing in the new fiction section of my local library, I noticed the spine of this book with the author’s last name: Mazzarella. Arrogantly, I thought, “I only know one Mazzarella, & she is a professor at Wheaton. I bet it’s her!” And laughed cynically. Well, it was her. And I changed my cynicism to an attitude of wishing I was with someone I knew, so that I could tell them, “Hey, I know this woman…”

In any case, I enjoyed this book. It tells the story of a woman named Dottie Connell, who
Sep 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian, fiction
Dottie tells her story, one of a farm woman with a deep love for her land. Dottie thought she was content with her solitary life on the farm, but when her best friend dies she has to take in her little girl. That girl and a hired hand form Dotties family, but when forced to decide between them and the land the land just might win out. Will Dottie ever learn that letting people into her life might just be what she needs?[return]This book, told from Dotties point of view, is heavy on introspection ...more
Sara Diane
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2008
I picked this up on a whim. The title caught my eye in the library. It isn't the normal sort of story I look for, it is somewhat historical fiction.

Mazzarella weaves an amazing tale of a woman who is trying to farm her father's land when she inherits the daughter of her best friend.

The novel takes us through Dottie's struggles--from wanting to take her brother's place after his death, the scorn of a marriage that never happened, the truth behind her friend's death and the realization that most
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is a thought provoking book- it reminds me of something I would have read in my sophomore english class which would have required an essay just to examine one facet of the book. There are many many levels to look at and dissect. That being said- I found this to be a depressing book. It begins sad and it ends relatively sad. Not a lot happens and Dottie does not learn quickly- if at all. I hoped it would end differently- this hope kept me reading and when it didn't happen I felt like I had w ...more
Lindsey Torkko
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was okay. It was easy to read and a nice story with a some nice lessons, which I took to be "Don't let life pass you by" and "Forgive" but it didn't excite me and I don't think I'll remember it in a few weeks. What I did appreciate is that the author doesn't wrap everything up in a fairy-tale happy manner. That is one of my gripes with Christian Fiction in general, loving God, knowing Jesus doesn't necessarily make everything clean and easy. That said, I'm not sure if Dottie does ever ...more
Rebecca Carenzo
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
A very well written novel however the story left me flat. While an intriguing idea, I think it would have been more effective if told from a different point of view (Mattie) as the main character (Dottie) was wholly relatable or likeable and therefore hard to feel invested in her outcome. The ending left me feeling bad about the entire situation of the characters and left no resolution to their stories. Overall, a disappointment but rated 3 stars because of the wonderfull crafted writing and bea ...more
Bryn Clark
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading the reviews of this book is frustrating. I wonder if many of the critiques have to do with the fact that it was released by a Christian publishing house; it's not your typical 'Christian' novel- and that works incredibly in it's favor. The main character is not loveable but is painfully real. The plot is painful to read at times- in the way real is as well. Overall I was pleasantly surprised. The book felt true to life and was without presumption. I'd recommend it to anyone who's read an ...more
Mar 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was interesting, I'll give it that. In many ways I did like this book, but there was one huge stumbling block for me. I just could not identify at all with Dottie, the main character. Luckily, it was a short book or I may not have finished reading it. It's not that it was a poorly written novel...I just had a hard time connecting with the character, and that's a big part of the reading experience for me personally. ...more
Dottie Connell is a Ohio farm girl born, bred and bonded to her farm. Or at least she thinks its her farm. The book takes the reader through a broken engagement, raising her best friend's daughter and a second chance at love. Even though Dottie has lived in this same valley her entire life she finds that she doesn't know herself or others as well as she thinks.

Well done, especially for a first book.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it
This novel focuses on a woman trying to hold on to her farm in Ohio in the mid-20th century, who learns too late that she cared too much about the land to the exclusion of her relationships with others. It is a very dark novel, and as such will not appeal to some, but it left me with a lot to think about.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was beautifully written, and it was her first novel! I hope to find more books by her in the future.

This was not a light-hearted read, but it was haunting and the power of unforgiveness and bitterness is weighty.

I recommend this book, but not if you are looking for light and playful, but I guarantee you will think and feel and wonder what you will leave behind!
Feb 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I would have given it a zero if I could. Such a waste of time. I can't even relate to the story. It was a boring narrative of pure selfishness without being totally remorseful of what Dottie had done to Mattie's life or being uncaring to the poor man , Stanley. . The author didn't fully explain why Zela had to do it.
There's really nothing to grasp.
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
A great first novel; I was so into the characters that I felt horribly bereft when I finished. This was not improved by the lack of the happy ending I'd envisioned. Love of the land, thorny relationships complicate life for an unmarried female farmer in Ohio. ...more
Rena Sherwood
Nov 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-crap-shelf
Moral of the story: Women should sit down and shut up. Are you kidding me???


Hundreds of years and untold thousands of women fighting for equal rights and here is a woman WITH those rights saying it's better to be a slave to men and have no rights at all? How does crap like this get published?


I identified strongly with the woman farmer fighting to make a living on her own land -- and so yeah, I felt scammed after she succumbs to the "sit down and shut up" message. If I ever do that, please -- so
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Author brings humanity to a bitter, vindictive farm woman forced into hard life choices. My initial interest came from its setting: Pleasant Valley, Ohio.
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Nicole Mazzarella grew up in Ohio and writes with sensitivity and precision about rural, Midwestern life. She lives with her husband and their three children in Illinois.

Nicole has taught creative writing at Old Dominion University and currently teaches creative writing at Wheaton College. Prior to teaching, Nicole worked in a variety of settings, including the 1996 Olympics, an Episcopal Cathedr

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