Synopsis (from Amazon)
“My friends describe me as frighteningly sensible, not at all the sort of woman who would fall for an actor. And his home. And his family.”
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. She’s excited about the prospect of a proper holiday with a proper family, but 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. And then there’s the enigma of an old family photograph…
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…
When I found out that Linda Gillard’s new book was only coming out in digital format I was disappointed. I didn’t have a Kindle and I wanted to read it (and honestly reading on my ipod really ruins the reading experience). So when I got my Kindle it was one of the first books I bought. Having really liked Emotional Geology and Star Gazing, and loving A Lifetime Burning, I had pretty high hopes for this one.
Were my hopes met? Well I enjoyed it certainly, and although it took a little getting in to I didn’t want it to stop by the end. The old manor house and family intrigue put me in mind of Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours, and for some reason parts of plots began to blend in my head after I had read this one. It’s strange because apart from an old house and family secrets there is very little similarity. You don’t expect the same sort of secrets (even if at certain points it seems to be going that way you are shocked by it and expect even at the time for it not to be as it seems). There is the love element which The Distant Hours doesn’t have.
The one love interest in the book is pretty classic Gillard. Not the strong handsome type of chick-lit but sensitive, and flawed with a past that makes him more that just ‘the love interest’. The other, at least initially, seems much more your standard ‘hero’ type, handsome, charming, witty, but somewhat fake. I liked them both though [highlight for spoiler]In fact for once I didn’t like the woman so much. Well maybe that’s not true, I did like Gwen. Maybe really I mean I wouldn’t have made the choice she did. I preferred Alfie most of the way through, and by the end it was quite a close call.
I wouldn’t say it is Gillard’s best work of what I have read but still certainly worth the read.