Hidden is the latest novel from Linda Gillard and just like the other books from this author which I have read, I thought it was excellent.
This is a dual time novel which is a style of storytelling which I always enjoy. It tells the story of Esme, whose brothers and fiance were all killed during World War One. She places an advert in a newspaper offering to marry an officer, in particular one who has been injured during the war. This may seem an odd thing to do but it did actually happen. Her marriage, however, turns out to be very different from what she hoped with her husband suffering terribly from shell shock and becoming more and more controlling.
In the present day, the focus is on Miranda who has inherited Myddleton Mote, the house where Esme lived, from her actor father. There is a leak in the moat surrounding the house and as the water level drops, a skeleton is revealed. A very unwelcome visitor to the house causes a lot of damage but in the meantime, reveals some long hidden secrets. As well as the two main parts of the story, we also read Esme’s innermost thoughts in extracts from her testimony.
Hidden is so beautifully written with the characters all so well drawn. I can’t quite decide if I liked the story in the past or present best or if I liked them both equally and I think that is a good sign. I felt so much sympathy for Esme and the awful situation she found herself in. Whilst initially, like Esme, having some compassion for her husband and how he was not coping with his experiences in the war, as his behaviour grew more irrational, I began to not only seriously dislike him but also worry for her safety. Both storylines are strong and show the very different experiences for women. The two main characters had much in common in their relationships but with a hundred years separating them, it was clear how much the rights of women have, thankfully, changed over time.
Hidden is quality storytelling, a real page turner which is full of tension as the secrets from the past are revealed. So much was hidden in the book not just in a physical way but also in a more emotional way. Linda Gillard tells the interwoven stories of Esme, Miranda and Myddleton Mote in a compelling way in this richly detailed, atmospheric novel.
My grateful thanks to the author for sending me a copy of the book. Hidden is available now as an ebook and in paperback. You can order a copy online here: Hidden
From the back of the book
A birth. A death. Hidden for a hundred years.
“Lady, fiancé killed, will gladly marry officer totally blinded or otherwise incapacitated by the war.”
In 1917 a sense of duty and a desire for a child lead celebrated artist Esme Howard to share her life and home – 16th-century Myddleton Mote – with Captain Guy Carlyle, an officer whose face and body have been ravaged by war. But Esme knows nothing of the ugliness that lurks within Guy’s tortured mind, as he re-lives the horrors of the trenches. As a child grows within her, Esme fears Guy’s wrath will be turned on them both. A prisoner in her own home, she paints like one possessed, trusting that one day someone will hear her silent cries for help.
A century later, Miranda Norton inherits Myddleton Mote and its art collection from a father she never knew and decides to move on after the end of an unhappy marriage. Inviting her extended family to join her, Miranda sets about restoring the house and turning it into a thriving business. When the moat is drained for repairs, a skeleton emerges. Then someone from Miranda’s past returns to torment her and an appalling act of vandalism reveals the Mote’s dark secrets, hidden for a hundred years.
About the author
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.