I was introduced to Linda Gillard last year when I read her debut novel Emotional Geology toward my 2011 Mental Illness Advocacy reading challenge, and I loved it, the book went on to score highly on my reflection for the year. Since then Linda has kindly offered to send me more of her work an offer I snapped up, I have received three of her more recent novels Untying the Knot, House of Silence, and The Glass Guardian. I read Untying the Knot in May of this year and again loved it, so I didn’t wait long to start this one. House of Silence is Linda’s fourth novel published as an e-book in 2011. To find out more about this book or author why not pop over to Linda Gillard’s official website.
Gwen (born Guinevere) Rowland has had to grow up strong and independent, as by the age of 16 she had lost her mother to drugs, her aunt to alcohol, her uncle to AIDS, and no one has ever been sure who her father was to begin with. Gwen is a beautiful girl but has always been isolated from her peers due to her quiet nature. Gwen loves nothing more than a quiet night in sewing hence why she became a wardrobe mistress. It is through this job that Gwen meets and falls for the charming but rather roguish actor Alfie Donovan. Their relationship is going great when Christmas starts to loom and Gwen can’t understand why Alfie is so reluctant for her to except the invitation to spend Christmas with his family at Creake Hall. As she can’t wait to spend a proper Christmas, with a proper family. On arriving at Creake Hall, a Tudor manor deep in the Norfolk countryside, Gwen is instantly in love with the place and the family. But is it all as perfect as she imagines? It would seem that a house and family this large has the secrets to match.
House of Silence was a different type of book than what I’ve read so far from Gillard but it really did work. Most of Gillard’s books revolve around a woman and/or one couple while House of Silence has a female main protagonist who is joined by a host of other characters. I was worried this would mean I would not like the book as much but it turned out the opposite. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the host of characters. As soon as we arrived at Creake Hall and we met the family I was hooked. Dotty Hattie, sturdy Viv, loving Debs, aloof Fanny, reclusive mother Rae, and the mysterious gardener Tyler. The viewpoint didn’t stay fixed with Gwen and so as a reader I was able to see the action from different angles, although I still couldn’t see all the twists and turns coming! Sadly the only thing that let it down for me was towards the end some of the decisions that Gwen made. I know not all characters are going to think like me but still as an emotionally engaged reader I was a bit upset at some of her choices (can’t say more without spoiling it though!). Needless to say this didn’t affect me enough that I disliked House of Silence but it was enough to mean I enjoyed it but did not love it like I did Emotional Geology and Untying the Knot.
Another great read from Gillard I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of House of Silence (especially as it too is a bargain price on Amazon at the moment), have to admit though I think Emotional Geology is STILL my favourite of Gillard’s work that I have read to date. Really looking forward to reading The Glass Guardian next.
(This book did contain a character suffering from a mental illness so I did consider it for the M.I.A reading challenge 2012 but in the end decided it was far more a family mystery than an in-depth look into mental health)