Cover Image: Silent Is The Magpie

Silent Is The Magpie

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Member Reviews

The premise of this book was a great idea a 67 year old widow on a year long journey finding herself again and fighting her demons. I wanted it to be so much more empowering than it was.

There were some wonderful moments in the book and you could see her take back the power but also some questionable areas too. The dramatic event was a little much but the female characters in this were brilliant too. 

I think I would appreciate reading this more further into my life where I can truly put myself in her shoes.
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I didn't care for this book. I like the idea of a sixty-seven year old widow taking a year "off" to focus on herself, far away from civilization, since she had focused on her husband and his needs most of her life. I liked that she rode a motorbike, had sex with a 40-year old (?), and that she was into hiking and learning about nature. 

But the first 20% was mostly back story. After that the story got better, and I started enjoying it. Then, around the 40% mark, it became all about her sex life and her young, hot lover. I was disappointed that she gave up her independence so easily, yet again for a man. The way she deals with her late husband's (now her own) business, where she leaves it to her husband's assistant to run for an entire year, is also mind-boggling. No business owner would ever do that. 

It's a slow-moving book with too many flashbacks and confusing switches between past and present tense. At half-way through, I just couldn't take it any longer, and DNF.
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I really like Jaime Barlow's courage and grit. Cora grew on me, too. But the positive aspects of these characters couldn't salvage this book and earn it a higher star rating, in my opinion.
I didn't care for the sexual content. 
The writing is also choppy in places and left me feeling confused about who the character or storyline. The book wanders and meanders, too, rehashing the same subjects throughout. I felt bored a lot as I read.
The female characters in this book are strong women. The premise of a woman finding herself does appeal to me, too.
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I LOVE when a book features an older character who is undergoing major life changes / transitions. This book features so much self discover and personal exploration as Jamie sheds her former life and reaches for a new sense of self.
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This is a very compelling and moving book about a widow’s journey of self-discovery and of capturing the essence of herself outside the boundaries of wife, widow, mother, daughter, business woman.

Retreating for a yearlong escape from her ordinary, Jamie Barlow finds a new definition of herself in the mountain home she and her deceased husband own. Embracing nature and the beauty that surrounds her, 

Jamie embarks on a personal campaign to discover who she really is as an individual not defined by her roles. Along the way, she meets Jacob Kelly, 

a lost soul seeking meaning in a life that has lost it. Their relationship builds and grows as they learn from each other how to live in a world that has completely changed for them both.

•Character development- 4☆
• Story Plot- 3☆
• Side characters- 3.5☆
• Flow of the story- 4☆
• Overall - 3.5☆
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Silent is the Magpie gets the award for “most phrases I have highlighted in a book.” And it is a strong contender for “best book cover”. 

The book description is rather enigmatic and reads, “Retired wife and mother goes on a walk-about and finds the self who has haunted her on the road less traveled. This novel is contemporary fiction with a romance and feminist slant. It is written for women... maybe older women. It is about a woman who finds her sense of identity, power and voice. It might fit the self-help genre but has an adventure/romance element to it. Some have described it as a vision quest.”

I describe it as a fascinating, one-of-a-kind read. Written in third-person, present tense, which takes some getting used to, this book appears to be a memoir. But, it’s not.  It’s a fictional coming-of-age story-about a 67 year-old woman! I will tell you a bit about Magpie, but the best way to experience this book is to read it. I read all the time, and I can’t recall reading a book like this one!

Jamie Barlow has had a fulfilling marriage to a top businessman and has enjoyed her happy family life and wealth. When her husband passes, she decides to get away from it all for a year and move to a family cabin in the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania.

Sounds rather Thoreau-like, right? And by hiking the trails and learning from nature, Jamie does come to understand herself better. But, I wouldn’t be honest if I left you with just that peaceful and bland thought. Jamie does a whole lot more than mediate in nature! 

She meets a young man in the woods! Oh, does she! I won’t spoil the wonders of this book for you, but here are a few quotes I enjoyed from this readable story.

“There is nothing to be afraid of. The world wants to share itself with you. It wants to embrace you. It wants to love you.”

“Do you think a train looks anywhere but ahead? Got it? Get it? When everything goes crazy, get back to your mission statement. And have a “re- view!”

Jamie has adventures on the trails, but this book is more than just her musings. She also gets involved in some rip-roaring problems and dilemmas! You’ll enjoy the added mystery and you will also be pleased to learn the meaning of this book’s title.

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for a digital review copy. This is my honest review.
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Jamie Barlow, a recent widow decides to go on a self-imposed journey to re-discover herself beyond her lifelong roles of wife, mother, and business woman. After her husband dies and leaves his business to her, she decides she will take a year off to find herself by hiking and living alone in their Pennsylvania mountain cabin. She meets quite a cast of characters that help her in her quest. The book has a great deal of self-reflection, a little romance, some business intrigue, and wonderful descriptions of the area surrounding the cabin. This book will appeal to women that take on many different roles in life that may have lost their own sense of self.
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4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  At the beginning I wondered why there were different tenses in the narrative.  I think this is because it's supposed to mimic her journal and also the author is used to writing for children and many of those use short sentences in the present tense.  One I was used to it I found it delightful,.   It sounds like much of the experience of the book comes from real life.  The author is a caregiver, mother and grandmother.  

I found the characters intriguing, especially Jake, though it's not a conventional romance.  I think my only regret was the epilogue which I found really sad though it did open up other avenues for a sequel which I would eagerly look out for...

I  voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This is a very compelling and moving book about a widow’s journey of self-discovery and of capturing the essence of herself outside the boundaries of wife, widow, mother, daughter, business woman.
Retreating for a yearlong escape from her ordinary, Jamie Barlow finds a new definition of herself in the mountain home she and her deceased husband own. Embracing nature and the beauty that surrounds her, Jamie embarks on a personal campaign to discover who she really is as an individual not defined by her roles. Along the way, she meets Jacob Kelly, a lost soul seeking meaning in a life that has lost it. Their relationship builds and grows as they learn from each other how to live in a world that has completely changed for them both.
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This book is one of those novels that is not what you expect at all. I think I was expecting a story about a woman on a journey on a motorcycle, but it was much more than that. The story follows Jamie Barlow, who has recently lost her husband of many years. He ran a very successful business and they were very wealthy. They bought a cabin in the woods of the Ligonier Hills on many acres as their private retreat. Now, Jamie has come to the cabin to spend a year alone, trying to sort out her life. Along the way, she meets some interesting people and finds much more than she had planned. 

Jamie’s year of self-discovery is made more interesting when she finds a man living in a cave on her property. Jake and his dog are there for similar reasons as her own and the two eventually become friends and more. Jamie also develops a very close relationship with the woman and her daughter, Cora and Ellie, who run the small store in the nearby town of Ram Cat Run. But, her life back in the city intrudes when business partners try to have her killed in a bid to take over her company.

Jamie learns a lot on her long hikes around the land. She imagines that she is following the route of the Appalachian Trail as she goes and totals up enough miles by the end of the book that she would have nearly finished the entire trail. Her hiking helps her connect to her inner self and she comes back to her cabin to write and ponder life’s big questions. Some might call her a senior citizen, but she is really just someone who is seeking meaning in life in her own way. 

I admire the way the author developed the character of Jamie and showed us her inner conflicts and emotions throughout the story. Jamie’s life is complicated, but she pulls off her transition beautifully. By the end of the novel, the reader truly cares what happens to Jamie, Jake, and the baby. 

Jamie’s relationship to the natural world is also a large part of the transformation. She finds the peace of nature and learns to slow down and observe the wildlife and happenings all around her cabin. Jake, with his Cherokee ancestry, helps her also. 

I admire the spunk of Jamie as a 65-yar-old widow who hops on her Harley and heads for the hills, leaving behind family, business, and all else. She is a daring character and a strong female role model. Her friend, Jake, is an honorable man who has experienced tragedy and loss and who is healing in his own way. Cora and Ellie are a bit stereotyped as the women who run a store in the small town in the back woods. But, they were believable enough and were also well-developed characters. 

The novel flows along well and we see the seasons unfold through Jamie’s own observations and descriptions. The author does a great job setting the scene and you can practically see the cabin sitting there in the woods as snow falls. The plot is believable and engaging enough to hold the reader’s interest.

Overall, i enjoyed this book and recommend it as a good read to anyone looking for something different. As an older female, I identified a lot with the character of Jamie, but it’s mostly about how we resolve our own inner conflicts and come to resolution about life’s big questions. This story is appropriate for all readers. 

I’d like to thank NetGalley and the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was a do not finish for me. I got 6% through and I couldn't take the writing style. It was too choppy with too many short sentences and not descriptive enough. It went back and forth from 3rd person and would switch. It was too hard to read and frankly the story had not engaged me enough to continue.
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Vanita never ceases to amaze and this long-form narrative is evidence of this fact.
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I enjoyed this book I read it in one sitting the premise of this novel was interesting. I loved the romance in this book and I loved the characters
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