Originally published in 1962, The Silence on the Shore is considered by many critics to be Hugh Garners best, most ambitious novel. Truly, in the person of Grace Hill, the landlady of the Toronto rooming house where most of the books events take place, Garner has created a fictional character never to be forgotten. Grace is a middle-aged snoop and an overweight nudist whose sexual release comes from watching wrestling matches at a hockey arena that is a thinly disguised Maple Leaf Gardens.
Around Grace orbit her various boarders: alcoholic Gordon Lightfoot; Walter Fowler, an aspiring writer whose marriage has just broken up; Aline Garfield, a fundamentalist Christian grappling with various urges and torments; a Polish refugee woman; and a colourful cast of others whose lives intersect in drama that arises from arbitrary or coincidental encounters.
According to scholar John Moss, the book is the best realistic novel of Canadian city life yet to be written.