I've just finished reading House of Silence and I'm blown away. The book has been published for Kindle and I don't have one, so Gillard kindly furnished me with a copy I could download and read on my computer. This process took a while because it was a little hard on aging eyes, but I'm so glad I read it. (And by the way, Linda, I'm definitely in the Marek camp.)
In the beginning we are introduced to a young woman named Gwen who works as a theatrical wardrobe mistress. She meets a charming actor named Alfie and they become lovers. Gwen had a pretty awful childhood and has no family, so when Alfie tells her he must go home for Christmas although he hates it every year, she talks him into taking her along. She pictures a lovely family Christmas with all the food and traditions she imagines a country house family in England must enjoy. And so they go off to Creake Hall. Love the name.
Gwen meets his mother, a famous writer of children's books who seems to be suffering from some type of senility, and Alfie's four sisters. Then she meets the gardener who is called Tyler. Mother can't remember names of gardeners so every time they hire a new one, he is called Tyler after the last one she remembers. Actually his name is Marek and he lives in the old mill on the property. All of these interesting characters seem to have secrets, in fact Gwen is the only character whose life is an open book. "Oh the tangled web we weave . . ."
Trying to figure out the truth about everyone is delightful fun, especially in the case of dark handsome Marek, who had been a psychiatrist, and Hattie, the youngest sister. Hattie is a quilter; she and Gwen become fast friends over needle and thread.
I did have a little trouble getting into the story, but that problem can be explained most likely by my reading it on the computer. That's one of the many reasons I have resisted buying a Kindle. Once I got well acquainted with the characters, though, I was hooked. Gillard has a talent for creating such believable characters that they seem like old friends. Nothing they do is out of character and they talk like real people talk. I'll be thinking about them for quite a while.
Another thing I like is that she includes a final chapter that explains what happened after the denouement of the plot. Not only that, it all makes perfect sense. As usual with Gillard's work, I highly recommend this although I do wish the powers that be would stop referring to her books as romance novels because they are so much more.