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When We Were Silent by Fiona McPhillips

Louise Manson has recently enrolled at Highfield Manor, Dublin’s most exclusive private school.

Lou is seen as an outsider because of her working-class status, until she is befriended by some of her gorgeous and affluent classmates. Yet, Lou’s efforts to uncover the school’s secret result in a lifeless body lying before her, marking the end of her time at Highfield. A shocking phone call comes for Lou after thirty years. The school is facing a lawsuit and Lou has been called upon by a well-known lawyer to give testimony. It’s time for Lou to confront her past and finally uncover the truth about Highfield.

Although it had a slow start, this book eventually captivated me, and I couldn’t stop reading. It was sometimes tough to witness the hardships faced by these characters and the lasting effects on their lives. What makes this book important is the author’s bravery in addressing taboo topics that many avoid. However, we must take responsibility for our own education and acknowledge that these things exist and continue to occur in our world.

As the book progressed, my fondness for Lou grew and I empathized with her as she navigated the challenges of her teenage and adult life. I enjoyed the gradual and realistic development of the story, and the ending evoked a range of emotions in me.

All in all, such an impressive start. The compelling strength of Fiona McPhillips’ prose highlights her remarkable talent. Despite the difficult nature of her story, she handles it with great sensitivity.

Many thanks to @fionamcp @TransworldBooks @netgalley for a review copy.


About the Author

Fiona McPhillips is an Irish journalist, author, and screenwriter. She is an editor at The Forge literary magazine and her own work has appeared in The Manchester Review, Hobart and Barren Magazine, among others. When We Were Silent, the runner-up for the 2021 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, is her debut novel. Fiona lives in Dublin with her three kids, two cats, and a dog.

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