It’s day two of the recommended Christmas reads feature, and my choice today is HOUSE OF SILENCE by Linda Gillard. Set deep in the Norfolk countryside, and told sometimes in the first person from the point of view of lead character Gwen and sometimes in the third person from the other characters’ perspectives, HOUSE OF SILENCE immersed me in mystery. The intrigue surrounding Gwen’s boyfriend Alfie and his dysfunctional family kept me guessing right to the end – and I mean guessing! There’s no way I could have predicted how this story would turn out. For romantics, there is love interest running throughout the story, and the whole book is brought to life by Linda’s descriptions, particularly of the Creake Hall garden laid bare for winter but still beautiful in its starkness. The interaction between the characters is excellent, and always believable despite their very unorthodox lives.
Here’s the blurb, followed by an excerpt Linda has kindly supplied.
Orphaned by drink, drugs and rock n’ roll, Gwen Rowland is invited to spend Christmas at her boyfriend Alfie’s family home, Creake Hall – a ramshackle Tudor manor in Norfolk. Soon after she arrives, Gwen senses something isn’t quite right. Alfie acts strangely toward his family and is reluctant to talk about the past. His mother, a celebrated children’s author, keeps to her room, living in a twilight world, unable to distinguish between past and present, fact and fiction.
When Gwen discovers fragments of forgotten family letters sewn into an old patchwork quilt, she starts to piece together the jigsaw of the past and realises there’s more to the family history than she’s been told. It seems there are things people don’t want her to know.
And one of those people is Alfie…
“A country house mystery selected for Amazon UK’s Top Ten BEST OF 2011 in the Indie Author category.”
I don’t know what I’d been expecting. A ramshackle farmhouse. A Georgian rectory, perhaps. I certainly wasn’t expecting an Elizabethan manor house, a jumble of tall, barley sugar chimneys and crow-step gables, red brick walls and a battery of mullioned windows, winking at me as the car struggled up the pot-holed drive.
It was love at first sight. I knew even before I entered Creake Hall that it would be a House of Horrors, domestic, architectural and probably culinary, but I didn’t care. The house spoke to me, even at a distance. It looked neglected, wounded somehow – quite possibly by its present owners. But I determined to keep my eyes open, my mouth shut and my itchy, exploratory fingers to myself. I was not on a rescue mission.
I dragged my eyes away from the chaotic roofline silhouetted against the vast Norfolk sky and, as the car came to a halt in front of a massive double oak door, I turned to speak to Alfie, my excitement bubbling over. He sat braced, both hands still gripping the wheel, his chin sunk onto his chest. It occurred to me then that perhaps I was on a rescue mission after all.
To discover more about Linda and her work please visit her website.
Today’s advent calendar picture – A lamb looking up at a star.