The Silent Children
Max Gissing is a former banker living in London. He’s originally from Vienna and lives his life away from his roots in Austria and far away from memories of his estranged mother, Annabel Albrecht. He’s quiet, understated; he’s normally calm and collected. A bit of a cold fish, some may say, but his heart’s in the right place, and he cares for those closest to him – namely, his mother’s closest friend, Vivienne Fuchs. He’s rational – almost clinically so – with the ability to argue away anything that may come across as remotely mysterious. Yet for the last few years, he has felt marked. He’s ready to talk about it, to divulge the past, hoping that his disclosure will put his mind at rest once and for all.
Vivienne Fuchs is Max’s mother’s closest friend. She has always been close to Max and treats him like her own son. She’s also the one Max turns to. Vivienne is matter of fact, calls a spade a spade – most of the time – and seems to be the only one that really understood Max’s mother. But there are still a few things that escaped her knowledge, things that she may have tried to bury away.
Oskar Edelstein comes across as secretive. In fact, it appears he’s seldom straightforward. He has the uncanny ability to extract information from others, without divulging much about himself. A recent widower, he’s a bit of a recluse, although he has an inner circle of friends. Outsiders are definitely unwelcome. That said, there’s a warm side to him, but the phrase, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, applies equally to him.
Annabel Albrecht lies at the heart of the story. She’s a complex, contradictory character: an estranged mother to Max; a close, loving friend to Vivienne. A lover of life, but at times, bitter and resentful about her lot. A chameleon perhaps. Max would describe his mother as self-centred and selfish. Unselfish and generous to the end, are the words Vivienne and others would ascribe to Annabel. We shall never know. Or will we?