Cauldstane by Linda Gillard

CauldstaneCauldstane by Linda Gillard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Linda Gillard is an author I had never heard of, until I stumbled onto her fabulous gothic novel, House of Silence, a few months ago. Since then, I’ve read two more of her novels, purchased a fourth, and visited her beautiful and information-packed website several times.
Gillard is an author living in Scotland whose House of Silence was voted Amazon UK’s “Top Ten Best of 2011” in the Indie Author category. Many of her previous novels are difficult to come by, but I hope that with increasing publicity, and the publication in book form of her most recent novel, that Gillard’s talent will become more widely enjoyed by readers.
Cauldstane is a story set in a crumbling castle in the Highlands of Scotland. In a situation unfortunately realistic in today’s world, the MacNab family, who have proudly owned Cauldstane castle for many generations, are now falling into penury. Without heirs, and without money, they are close to having to sell this place to which they are so intimately identified. Into this unhappy situation comes ghostwriter Jenny Ryan, a talented author who is commissioned by Sholto MacNab, aging mountain climber, desert trekker, and all around adventurer, to write his memoirs. Sholto hopes that publishing a book will bring in some much needed funds and allow him to retain possession of the family estate for a few more years.
When Jenny arrives at Cauldstane, she is initially enchanted by the atmospheric, if rather derelict old castle, as well as by its inhabitants. Of especial interest to her is Sholto’s adult son Alec, a troubled widower with a kind heart. However, all is not as peaceful as it seems in the old castle (is it ever?!) and in short order, Jenny becomes involved in dangerous old family secrets which pose a very real threat in the present.
Cauldstane has many elements which make it a great pleasure to read. For one, it has an unimpeachable atmosphere…settings don’t get much more gothic and delicious than a cursed old castle in the windblown, rain-soaked, Highlands of Scotland.
Secondly, the characters in this mystery/romance are imperfect, quirky, and eminently likeable. Author Linda Gillard has a talent for creating characters who are unique, in the way that real people are. Her characters in Cauldstane are no exception, from Jenny, who hides insecurities about her mental state, to Alex, who harbors guilt which drives him to bouts of frustration and depression. In developing her characters, Gillard shows an understanding of human psychology and motivation.
Third, Gillard knows how to write a good story; she has a lovely command of language, and writes a compelling plot.
Finally, Cauldstane is a novel with class. What I mean is that although it is not a cosy mystery story, instead dealing with real issues of emotional pain, loss, and healing, neither is it graphically sexual or violent. Gillard manages to convey a sense of decency and open-mindedness at the same time. Her books are the type that make me curious about the author as a person.
I would recommend Cauldstane to fans of The Thirteenth Tale, Rebecca, or Gillard’s earlier House of Silence.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cleopatralovesbooks
    Apr 13, 2014 @ 22:24:02

    A really comprehensive review. I read House of Silence a couple of years ago but I haven’t read anything from this author since.


  2. Hannah
    Apr 14, 2014 @ 09:16:26

    I had a hard time rating Cauldstane, because I would say I liked the sense of humor between the characters in House of Silence so very much. But I think if you liked one, you will also definitely enjoy the other!


  3. Linda Gillard
    Apr 20, 2014 @ 01:27:25

    Thanks, Hannah, for this terrific review. (I’m the author.) I think CAULDSTANE and HOUSE OF SILENCE are very similar in some respects but I agree, the humour is a much bigger feature in HOS.

    HOS was a very easy book to write and enormous fun – it sort of wrote itself! – but CAULDSTANE was a struggle at times. I started work on the book just a few weeks after my treatment for breast cancer finished and I think that “darkness” is reflected in the content and style of CAULDSTANE.


    • Hannah
      Apr 20, 2014 @ 08:48:19

      Thanks, Linda for sharing some of your writing process. I can see some of the serious or dark tone in Cauldstane. Also, on a maybe related theme, I really enjoyed the character of the vicar/ex-physicist, and the assurance and peace he brought to a sometimes frightening world.


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