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A History of Silence, by Cynthia J. Bogard

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Four women, unknowingly bound together by one man’s violent past.

Johnny Wharton is a history professor and descendant of a Texas “planter family” — a legacy that’s followed him all the way to 1985. Tough-girl Jenny (Johnny’s daughter), runs away to Madison, blotting out her past with distance, drugs, and sex. Her loner lifestyle is upended by her new roommate’s scary insistence on friendship. Emotionally damaged Jane (Johnny’s new graduate student) gives Johnny’s offer of an affair a try, thinking she might manage if it’s furtive and part-time. Maddie (his lesbian colleague) is grief-stricken; her longtime Black lady love Roz left her — inexplicably. Conservatively raised Liz (Johnny’s wife) is desperate to reconnect with her estranged daughter. She’s beginning to realize that Johnny’s past has left unspeakable scars on her family’s present.

As the lives of these four women intertwine in unexpected ways, each learns the past can’t be conquered until it’s confronted, and its secrets revealed — and shared.

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