Linda Gillard *****

A Patchwork Quilt

‘House of Silence’ is the first I’ve read of Linda Gillard’s novels and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was attracted by an article in which the author described her novels as ‘cross-genre’ – and this one is certainly that. A mix of country house mystery, psychological study, and love story, the whole enveloped in gothic atmosphere.

The characters were 3-dimensional and very human – none of them monsters, none of them perfect – they all had their attractions. There were some great contrasts too. Gwen’s honesty about her tragic past sat very well against Alfie’s curious reticence. What was he hiding? A great deal, as it turns out! The family at Creake Hall were odd but convincing, while Marek, the gardener, so strange to begin with, turned out to be a most appealing hero.

There were stories within stories here – and the theme of acting and actors playing their parts held the whole thing together – rather like the stitching in one of Hattie’s glorious quilts. ‘House of Silence’ is a patchwork quilt indeed, the intricate parts making a very satisfying whole.