At What Cost, Silence?

Book cover

At What Cost, Silence? is a historical novel about a young man grappling with questions of integrity and masculinity.

At the age of fourteen he suffers abuse of which he dares not speak. The cost of his silence is partially revealed by his inner pain, vacillation, and impulsive grasps at love throughout the ensuing years. He, his unconventional sister, and enslaved brother struggle for respect and a future among two East Texas plantation dynasties.

Watch the At What Cost, Silence? book trailer on YouTube.

In this nineteenth century Washington County, Texas society, strict rules of belief and behavior are clear.

Public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage is the Villere family, whose tragedy is less brutal than the Harts but is no less divisive. Often absent Papa Paien Villere remains silent regarding several facts he has withheld from everyone, including one which could destroy his entire family.

How can we trust when there are secrets?
When the people we should be able to trust most fail us?
When we must remain silent about who we truly are?

Typical farm in Washington County, Texas, where novel takes place.
A farm in Washington County

More on the background of this novel can be found in my blog:

“‘At What Cost, Silence?’ is a family saga that transforms the way we see the past, turning over little-known stones of history by focusing on the antebellum world of East Texas. This is both an epic novel spanning decades of history, culture and politics, and an intimate, passionate tale of love and morality, rooted deeply in the contradictions and complexities of its many characters. Klink has captured it all with great care and compassion and understanding.”

Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses

“Tackles complex questions related to power, enslavement, and the legacy of violence. . . . There is a yearning that burns bright in all the characters and propels the story forward atan engaging pace. Whether foolish or bold, these characters act, whisking the reader along on a provocative journey.”

Kate Anger, author of The Shinnery 

“Oozes with deep southern charm and boiling point angst as [Klink] breathes life into a colorful cast of mid-19th century Texans on the cusp of the Civil War. Her descriptive language, lively dialogue, and swift pacing enhance this multi-faceted narrative. An impressive debut!”

Ashley E. Sweeney, award-winning author of Hardland  

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this commanding historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas. It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. Adrien, a young boy is at the center as he struggles with his sexual identification and the associated taboos. This, and misgivings about his pretty visage, lead him to believe he has “a contemptible affliction.” 

Central to the novel are the issues of societal expectations which govern friendships, work, and marriage. A few of the prominent characters come to understand slavery to be a reprehensible institution, but there are no spoken conversations. It is, after all, Texas, a slave state which ultimately secedes in 1861.

The writing is masterful as visual, audible, tactile, and olfactory images draw the reader into the plantation life of Washington County tobacco growers. Dialogue, too, has the ring of authenticity, shimmering with anticipation as characters misbehave in manners both expected and unexpected. Kudos to the author for this rich, evocative tale. 

—Charlotte Whitney, author of Threads and The Unveiling of Polly Forrest

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