This is the second in a collection of five novels written by different authors and edited by Jean Gill – No Woman Is an Island: Inspiring and Empowering International Women. I agreed to review this as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, for which I received a copy in return for a fair and honest review.
Hidden is a time-shifting book that leaves the reader guessing the outcome to the very end.
When the father she never knew dies, Miranda Norton inherits his sixteenth century house – and the art collection within – called Myddleton Mote. Recently divorced from an overbearing and brutish husband, she finds herself at a crossroads in her life and decides to move on and live in the house. She invites her extended family to join her and together they begin a restoration and modernization to try making a business of house tours and events. When the ex-husband returns to bully her and vandalizes some of the artwork, Miranda discovers a secret held by the house for a hundred years.
Celebrated artist Esme Howard lived in Myddleton Mote in 1917. With her fiancé killed in the war, still wanting to be loved and have a child, and with a sense of duty, she advertises in a newspaper: “Lady, fiancé killed, will gladly marry officer totally blinded or otherwise incapacitated by the war.”
She meets a suitable responder, Captain Guy Carlyle, an officer whose face and body have been severely damaged in the war, and they decide to marry. Unfortunately, Esme is unaware of the tortured mind of her new husband, who suffers from what would now be called extreme post-traumatic stress syndrome. He daily relives the horrors of war in the trenches with increasing paranoia, screaming nightmares, and deep-seated suspicion of his new wife. Soon Esme realizes there will never be a child, something Guy did not tell her. Esme finds comfort in the company of the local physician and after one night of unexpected passion, finds herself pregnant. As the child grows within her, Guy’s wrath turns on her and she becomes locked by him in her own home. Her response is to paint a series of works, within which she places her cries for help, hoping that one day someone will find them. That person is Miranda.
This is a cleverly devised story that captures the reader from the start. The house is not only a setting but also a character unto itself with its incredible atmosphere. Those that inhabit it project true emotions that lend reality to the story. The author deals with Guy’s descent into the madness of his PTSD with unblinking authenticity and pathos. Nevertheless, despite the heavy emotional matter, the author draws all the threads of the story to a satisfying, if sad, ending.
About the author (Amazon)
Linda Gillard lives in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. She’s the author of nine novels, including STAR GAZING (Piatkus), shortlisted in 2009 for Romantic Novel of the Year and The Robin Jenkins Literary Award for writing that promotes the Scottish landscape. Linda’s fourth novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE became a Kindle bestseller. It was selected by Amazon as one of their Top Ten Best of 2011 in the Indie Author category. In 2019 Amazon’s Lake Union imprint re-published THE TRYSTING TREE as THE MEMORY TREE and it became a #1 Kindle bestseller.
You can find the author
On Twitter: @lindagillard
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaGillardAuthor
On her book site: http://lindagillard.co.uk/
Hidden is available on Amazon as part of the anthology or as a standalone: