The Silence in the Sound

Dianne C. Braley

THE BOOK: The Silence in the Sound.

THE AUTHOR: Dianne C. Braley.

PUBLISHED: Aug. 22, 2022.

PUBLISHER: Koehler Books.

SUMMARY:  On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, an ailing celebrity novelist’s famous book about a choice helps his young nurse make a heartrending one of her own.

Fiery city girl, Georgette’s memory of a childhood trip to Martha’s Vineyard Island with her father is one of the few good times. Her father was an alcoholic, and her enabler mother chose to stay with him; his addiction was the center of their world. Georgette fled home as soon as she could; years later, as a nurse, she’s going back to the island to start her life over. There, she becomes the private nurse for the ailing prize-winning novelist, Mr. S., and becomes enamored with the mysterious Dock, a wash-ashore like her whose disappearing acts only make her crave his love more.

As Georgette cares for Mr. S. and helps him come to terms with the end of his life along Vineyard Sound’s beautiful shores, they become friends. His famous book helps her navigate her life as George finds in the running away from her past, she inadvertently ran towards it. She loses herself in her relationship with Dock, who leads her down a road of denial and impossible choices she never thought she’d have to face.

Told through the voice of Georgette. The Silence in the Sound is a provocative coming-of-age debut revealing the lasting effects of growing up in addiction. But it also demonstrates a young woman’s strength as she navigates friendship, love, and heartbreak while finding her hidden strength along the way. 

THE BACK STORY: This book is inspired by actual events as I was the nurse for Pulitzer-Prize-winning author William Styron on Martha’s Vineyard at the end of his life.

WHY THIS TITLE: Although it’s a play on words, it has a significant meaning. The sound means Vineyard Sound (body of water), which is an essential spot in the story, and the silence in it is the protagonist’s struggle at a pivotal point in the book.  

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: My book is primarily for the female reader who enjoys a layered journey with all the elements, friendship, a spiraling love affair, celebrity, addiction, and coming of age in a beautiful setting so she can reflect and escape life for a while.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“An exquisite debut from a thrilling new voice. The Silence in the Sound is a poetic story, powerfully told. Emotional yet exhilarating, Dianne C. Braley’s novel is alluring through every page.” -Anna David, NY Times bestselling author of Party Girl and founder of Legacy Launch Pad

“An engaging story of love, grief, and remoteness on Martha’s Vineyard.” -Kirkus Reviews

“The Silence in the Sound is an unflinching look at the legacy of addiction and the soul-destroying effect it has on family and friends. Love does not conquer all for George, and her long journey from anger to forgiveness is grueling. In George, author Braley has given us a believable, flawed character whose story compels the reader to root for her.” -Susan Wilson, NY Times bestselling author of One Good Dog

“In The Silence in the Sound, Dianne Braley fashions a moving tale in which complicated love-for an alcoholic father, testy patient, unnervingly enigmatic lover, and Martha’s Vineyard-interweaves to create a compelling narrative. Georgette returns as an adult to the island, lured by the memory of a significant weekend there as a teenager with her father. She becomes the private nurse to the famous author Mr. S. for whom, despite his difficult nature, she develops a deep fondness. But Georgette can’t outrun the damage from growing up with an addict in a dysfunctional home as she becomes entangled in a complicated relationship with Dock-a local contractor with a mysterious past. Brimming with rich characters and a provocative storyline, Braley movingly explores if our history indelibly determines our future.” -Abby Remer, published author and writer for the Martha’s Vineyard Times

“In The Silence in the Sound, Dianne C. Braleyweaves a gorgeous, heart-wrenching, and very real tale of love, secrets, and resilience. The engaging plot peels back the façade of wealthy, seemingly idyllic Martha’s Vineyard to expose the lives and struggles of the island’s year-round working-class locals – the nurses and carpenters who labor, mostly unappreciated, behind the scenes. Laced with love and gritty with addiction, The Silence in the Sound is a compelling, memorable read.” -T. Elizabeth Bell, author of Counting Chickens and Goats in the Time of Love

“Braley has a distinctive and energetic voice and a lyrical style. She writes with confidence and easy-going fluidity, which belies the fact that The Silence in the Sound is her debut novel. Engrossing, psychologically intricate, and poignant, the book is multi-layered, fresh, and immersive. Not only is it compulsively readable but the characters stayed with me days after I’d finished it. The Silence in the Sound is beautifully written, emotionally charged, and highly recommended.” -Penny Haw, author of The Wilderness Between Us and The Invincible Miss Cust–This text refers to the paperback edition.

SAMPLE:

CHAPTER 5

July 11, 1992

Driving was long, longer than time, because of the infection that slowly ate us.

The alarm clock rang and vibrated on my nightstand, and I
slammed my hand on top of it. At seventeen, having to be ready
by seven in the morning was nearly impossible, and someone
would pay dearly. That someone was my father, who had to deal with
my complaining until we hit the Bourne Bridge before crossing into the
Cape.

“This truck is horrible!”

Irritated, I shifted on the tattered vinyl
seat, reaching under my legs, wiping the sweat away. “Gross.”

He ignored me.

“This is a long drive,” I continued, staring right at him, making sure he could see I was bothered.

“Not really,” he mumbled, then opened his mouth and made the
retching sound, drumming up a giant loogie. He turned his head and
launched it out the window. Unrelenting, I pretended my eyes were
laser beams vaporizing him.

“That’s beyond disgusting.” I lifted up from the seat to wipe my
legs again. “So gross.”

“All right, all right!” he finally responded.

A giant sign made from carved bushes in the rotary read, Welcome to
Cape Cod, and I was relieved to be almost there. We followed the green-and-white sign pointing to Woods Hole, Falmouth. I had only ever
been to the Cape once, which was weird as I’d lived in Massachusetts
my whole life. Aunt Rita, my father’s sister, rented a house in Cohasset
for a week after she got settlement money from a car accident.
I remembered all the adults sitting around and hearing “settlement”
over and over and my father saying, “Ya did good, kid” while patting
her on the head.

Most folks on the North Shore didn’t go to Cape Cod or the Islands.
We usually headed further north to New Hampshire or Maine, while
the people who lived south of Boston opted for the Cape or the Islands
since they were closer. Living in the ocean-side city of Revere, most of
our vacations consisted of us going across the street to the beach, which
was okay with us; it was America’s first public beach, to be exact, as noted
on the signs exclaiming this.

Revere was a tough, blue-collar city with a few Irish and Jewish
people scattered about. But really, everyone and everything in the city
was Italian, except for us. At least, that’s what it felt like. The bakeries,
restaurants, and all my friends were Italian, and I wished I were too.
My friends and I hung at the beach and lay in the sun most
summers, them with their long dark hair, olive skin, big brown eyes,
and me with my fair, freckled skin and reddish-brown hair. I liked
my blue eyes, and my hair was long, but I looked like a ghost next to
their tanned, glistening bodies. I’d watch them slather themselves in
baby oil and become darker. Then I’d do the same and burn red like a
lobster. My mother yelled at me to stop pretending I was Italian and
to be proud of my Irishness, as they were the most beautiful people in
the world. Looking at my reflection and my pasty skin, frizzy hair, and
freckles, I disagreed, but in silence.

There were tons of guys around Revere with nicknames like Johnny
Rockets or Broadway Joe. Everyone had a nickname. Fat Ricky cashed
everyone’s checks and had an illegal cab company with a few old 1970s
limos. We had about ten Blackys, and two of them lived near us on the
beach. My father was “Richie from the Beach.”

Even at a young age, I thought I could have come up with something a little cleverer. None of these people seemed to have jobs—or regular jobs, anyway. “Blacky
from the Beach” ran numbers, my father said, although I didn’t know
what that meant. My dad was a truck driver, but it seemed he didn’t
work much either.

For a little while, I believed my father might be a gangster like the
ones from the movies he watched on TV. He and his friends looked and
talked like those guys, and many of them drove the same types of cars.
One night, I watched The Godfather while he slept on the couch. I
stretched out on the green shag rug, listening to him snoring next to me,
unaware I was there. Michael, the main character, had the same enormous
eyes as my father that were also slightly turned at the corners. I couldn’t
believe Michael, who seemed like a smart guy on a good path, would get
involved with and then lead the Italian Mob and hurt people. I guess he
had to, but it wasn’t what his father wanted for him. I watched until the
end and then lay in bed, wondering if my father could be one of those
guys. He drove the car and was in the union, which they talked about
a lot. He dressed like them—or tried to, anyway. We weren’t Italian, so
he couldn’t be a made guy, but a lot of Irish guys and others worked
with them.

Maybe I was onto something.

I woke up the next morning and went to the kitchen. He was
sitting at the kitchen table, hurriedly rolling one of his “cigarettes,” as
he called them. He never seemed to roll these if my mom was home.
I couldn’t understand why he was afraid of her seeing the cigarettes he
rolled himself. She didn’t care about the Kools, and she smoked too.
She had been trying to quit recently, though, so maybe that was it, but
I wasn’t sure. It seemed he was up to something.

I grabbed a Bubba Cola from the fridge—like a Pepsi, but for poor
people; my mom bought them at the weird grocery store down the street.
None of the products there had names like the ones in regular stores or
on TV. They also didn’t have bags for your stuff, and you had to put it
all in boxes yourself after paying. Ray hated that store and refused to
drink Bubba Cola.

“Why can’t we be normal? Can’t we have Coke and Doritos like
everyone else?” he’d cried the other day while chewing on the end of
his clip-on tie. He stood, showing my mom the Bubba Cola can, then
walked over and pulled the bag of Nacho Cheese Chips with a giant
Great Value sticker on the front from the cabinet, pointing to it.
Ray had worn a clip-on tie since he could dress himself. He told us
all that he was an executive and didn’t care what anyone said because
that was how executives dressed. He also told us an executive wouldn’t
drink Bubba Cola. My mother ignored him and changed the subject.
“What’s up, Georgie?” my father said as he rolled his cigarettes,
looking past me nervously, watching for my mom. I sipped my cola as
he stuffed the cigarette in his pack of Kools, then brushed off the table.

“Are you a gangster?” I asked, taking another sip.

His hurried movements suddenly slowed, and he stared ahead, then
turned and smiled strangely. I was relieved after worrying the question
would make him angry. In the movies, they didn’t say that word in the
family. It seemed only the police referred to them as gangsters, so I didn’t
want to get in trouble for going against the rules. I smiled, pleased, and
swung my legs underneath me. I stared at him for a moment, my smile
fading.

He shouldn’t be smiling. He should be serious, like Michael in the movie.
He suddenly didn’t remind me of Michael anymore. He seemed
more like Michael’s brother Fredo instead. I studied him. His eyes
bloodshot, he looked weird. Fredo was a guy who was around because
they had to let him be. Maybe he was like that. I felt sorry for Fredo
and thought he was stupid.

He stopped smiling and came over, leaning in close. I pulled away
in surprise. The familiar beer-cigarette-aftershave mixture made me
choke, and I turned my head to cough.

“If I were, you’d never know it,” he whispered, quickly kissing me
on the cheek.

He stepped away and smiled down at me proudly, patting me on
the head, and then made his way to the stairs out the back door.
I put my can in the sink and then went to my room and plopped
onto my bed. I pulled my diary from under the mattress, taking the pen
from the holder, writing my last entry for the day: My dad is not a gangster.

I stared out the window as we drove the narrow stretch of road
into Falmouth.

“Almost there,” he said, sounding excited.

I felt a little excited too. I was eager to see this place, even if it was
with him. I glanced at him, thinking maybe he wasn’t that bad.

I had grown up by the North Shore, so the Cape seemed familiar,
only prettier and cleaner. Also, the people seemed fancier, and I liked
that. We pulled down into what looked like the town center and stopped
for gas across Main Street, next to a few small shops and restaurants. I
remembered little of our trip here with my aunt except for my father
ending up drunk and leaving on a bus after my mother decked him. I
never forgot that. Ray and I were sitting on the dock, eating freeze pops
Aunt Rita had given us, when we heard yelling from the house. Ray
ignored it, as he usually did, and playfully pushed me over.

“You’re a jerk,” I yelled, starting to push him back, then hearing a
door slam and more screaming.

We looked at each other, raising our eyebrows. I tried my best
to put it out of my mind and stay right where we were, pretending
things were fine. That’s what Ray would want. But I never could and
convinced him to come with me and see.

“Let’s go see what’s going on.” I stood, making my way toward the
stairs. I turned back. Ray wasn’t moving. “C’mon.” I gestured for him
to get up.

“I don’t want to know, George,” he sighed. His blue lips from the
pop made him look dead.

We slowly walked to the house. I listened hard, trying to figure it
out, but there was no sound. I tiptoed up the stairs and quietly opened
the screen door to the porch. Ray stood close behind, looking in every
direction except in front of him.

“You’re leaving!” my mother yelled.

We could see through the doorway to the living room. My father
clutched the fireplace, appearing to steady himself. He was drunk. Even
in the dimly lit room, I could tell. He looked like he needed a bath,
and just hours before, he’d looked clean.

Something came flying toward my father. It looked like clothes,
but it was hard to tell. I stood at the entrance of the porch, clutching
the plastic pop wrapper. I turned to Ray, who was chewing on his,
twirling it in his mouth and staring at the ceiling.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Dad said, slurring, attempting to make
his way toward where I assumed my mother was standing.

He took a few steps; then suddenly she came into view. He took
another step toward her and suddenly was thrown back over the rocking
chair. It all happened in slow motion. He looked like liquid spilling from
the chair onto the floor. My mom walked over and glared down at him.
He didn’t move. I turned to Ray, whose eyes were wide, still twirling the
ice pop wrapper in his mouth. Noticing us there, my mother turned in
horror. She ran to us, kneeling, assuring us he was okay.

“Sorry, guys, I’m so sorry,” she said.

I could tell she was trying to hold back from crying.

“It’s not your fault, Mom,” I said, rubbing her head.

“Did you hit him, Ma?” Ray’s voice came from behind, and I stared
at him with fire.

A tear fell from her cheek. She looked away from us, wiping it with
the back of her arm. My eyes filled, and I tried holding them back. I
hated crying, but seeing her cry bothered me.

“How about a ride in the rowboat?” She hopped up, glancing again
at my father.

“Is he alive?” Ray asked, looking past her.

“Oh my gosh, Ray.” She grabbed his shoulder. “Yes! Yes, of course
he is, Ray. He’s just sleeping,” she said, hugging him tightly.
Ray didn’t move.

“Drunk sleeping,” I whispered, watching him.

“Let’s go to the dock again, Ray. Come on.”

My eyes met my mother’s. “We can make fishing rods and try to catch something.”

“Great idea!” my mother chimed in, pretending to sound excited so we would be. “I’ll grab some line and some bread for the fish.”

She walked to the kitchen, past my father, who still wasn’t moving.
It stunned me that she had hit him. She’d never done anything
like that. He deserved it, or I guessed he did. He was breathing, and
after watching him for a moment, I saw his hand move. I was glad he
wasn’t dead

AUTHOR PROFILE: A raw, gritty New Englander, Dianne C. Braley found love for the written word early on, reading and creating stories while trying to escape hers, growing up in the turbulent world of alcoholism while living in the tough inner city. After putting her pencil down for a time, she became a registered nurse finding strength and calm in caring for those who couldn’t care for themselves. Still, she never lost her drive to write and became published in various medical online and printed publications. Seeing a painting and remembering a visit to Martha’s Vineyard as a girl and falling in love when her bare feet first stepped on the sand, she moved there for a time, caring for an ailing Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He not only was her patient but soon became her friend and motivator. He and his books helped her realize she missed crafting stories, and she had some to tell.

Currently, Dianne and her family, both human, furry, and feathered, are firmly planted in a small town north of Boston but not far enough away to lose her city edge. She is currently earning her degree in creative writing. Still, she escapes to the Vineyard every summer, picking up her pencil, resetting herself, and writing in the place that again inspired it. The Silence in the Sound is her debut novel.

LOCAL OUTLETS: https://bookshop.org/books/the-silence-in-the-sound-9781646637744/9781646637744

https://www.edgartownbooks.com/book/9781646637720

https://bunchofgrapes.indielite.org/book/9781646637744

https://bookshopofbeverlyfarms.com/item/7amU2mbpUPRRxjiv0q0dzQ

https://www.jabberwockybookshop.com/book/9781646637720

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

amzn.to/3zXDd0y

bit.ly/3NCNouu

PRICE: $19.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Dianne C. Braley

Diannecbraley.com

diannecbraley@gmail.com

(978) 288-9865

Published by

bridgetowriters

Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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