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But Raine hasn't produced one of those books filled with slogans and bromides. A powerful writer, reflective and inward-looking (to a fault, perhaps), she brings a scrupulously honest attention to the task of describing how it felt to be assaulted, in her own home, during the 39th year of her life, by a stranger whose face she never saw, a man who terrorized her for hours and threatened her with death. Just before the attack, she had heard a bird sing, a sound of "singular joy," and felt "blessed." And she had been, in a way. The child of loving parents, a smart, able woman with plenty of close friends, Raine hadn't lived a life free of grief, but she did
come from a world of nice people who behaved properly. "The loss of faith that there is order and continuity in life -- that life is meaningful -- is the most personal of all losses," she writes.
The rape plunged Raine into chaos and fear. Eventually, she married and rebuilt a happy life, but one that felt fissured and
artificial until she began, years after the rape, to confront the experience and tell her story. Raine describes herself at dinner
parties and other social events, confronted by flustered bourgeois matrons who can't understand how she can write about something "so very personal," and who inform her that "people don't like to read about such terrible things." These moments, and other off-key reactions from friends and relatives, bother her tremendously, which puzzled me until I came to understand that when Raine writes of "the death of the person I had been for thirty-nine years" she means, among other things, the death of a "nice," decorous middle-class lady who needs to see herself reflected in the approving eyes of her peers. Although "After Silence" is the story of a woman who survives a horrendous ordeal, it's also the story of someone slowly and painfully acquiring a genuine identity. That
achieving this sometimes results from suffering, or even a harrowing encounter with evil like Raine's, is one of life's strangest ironies.
--From Salon Magazine, Reviewed by Laura Miller 8/21/98
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