on 8 June 2012
The Silent Touch of Shadows is a haunting love story set in the present and 15th century Kent. Melissa Grantham, a single parent and genealogist is troubled by vivid dreams after a visit to her aunt's ancient Manor House. The dreams are so real that she feels as if she is somehow actually back in the fifteenth century, and sharing a connection to a young medieval woman. The connection is so real that Melissa can practically feel, touch and smell the past. The feelings the woman has for a forbidden lover troubles Melissa also in more ways than one. Unable to get the ghosts of the past out of her mind, she harnesses her professional skills to try to solve the mystery of the Manor and her dreams.
Having read this fab story I can see why Christina Courtenay has won awards. Her story telling in general and description of the historical period in particular, makes the reader believe they are there alongside the main protagonist every step of the way. Beautiful writing! If you want an unusual and intriguing love story then look no further than this book. I loved it!
on 4 July 2012
It's rare that I look forward to a book in the same way I might a film, but as soon as I read the blurb for The Silent Touch of Shadows the premise intrigued me. I'm glad to say it's lived up to my expectations. It's based in Ashleigh Manor, Kent and when Melissa moves in with her aunt, she starts to experience vivid dreams and is haunted by visions. The problem is a ghost called Roger and in order to rid herself of his presence she sets out to find out more about Ashleigh Manor and its history.
The story offers a perfect weaving between past and present in its time-slip style. For reader's of Christina Courtenay it's a departure from her historical novels, but still offers you the same quality. It's the kind of story I've always wanted to read and don't find enough of. A must-read.
on 12 July 2012
At once I knew, this could not end well. Ok so not Melissa, but the other story. If there is a ghost there can't be happiness and I raced to see what had happened.
The book is two stories in one. First we have Melissa, a single mother trying to get by. A history lover (and this made me like her even more) who goes to live with an aunt. And yes in a spooky big house. I should also mention a nice neighbor who is a widower ;)
Then there is the story set in the past. During the War of the Roses a young woman falls in love, but he is not meant for her. I really liked this story even I knew there could not be happiness. But I wanted to know what happened, why the ghost is around. Also the setting for it was nice. Even if I guessed something would happen it was not a sad book, it was just meant to happen and I liked the idea of seeing memories from the past. I always loved that idea ever since I read my first book dealing with it.
The sad and past mingled with each other, and Melissa tried to solve the mystery.
A good lovestory that gives you a bit more than the usual things. It's not romance, it's passion, hope and despair. And of course, happy endings.
on 7 July 2012
The Silent Touch of Shadows is a beautifully written novel that is full of mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, well developed characters, ghostly spectres and best of all two amazing love stories. I was quickly wrapped up in this intriguing storyline that not only has present day characters but also a set of 1460's characters that play a big part in the main characters lives. I will admit that I was a little confused at the start when the story jumps from present day to the past, but once I got the gist of who was who the transitions were flawless. I am new to the authors work, but I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for more works from Christina Courtenay in the future.
Melissa Grantham is a professional genealogist, she has recently separated from her partner, she moves around quite a bit and has never really settled. Melissa receives an invitation to visit her great aunt Dorothy in her families ancestral home 'Ashleigh Manor'. So Melissa and her daughter Jolie head down there for a visit. As soon as they arrive Melissa has strange dreams and visions that seem real. She is haunted by a medieval knight who is looking her help, to do what she does not know. Her dreams play out a story of a medieval woman and a forbidden lover, this leaves Melissa questioning if she is going out of her mind.
Melissa decides to put her genealogist skills to work and try to work out if these people from her dreams are even real and what her ghostly visitor wants with her. A neighbour called Jake hires Melissa to research his family tree, but it is a real shocker to Melissa that he is the spitting image of her medieval knight! Turns out Jake is plagued with similar dreams, could their histories be intertwined?
Well the ending was spectacular, I loved every page. I wasn't expecting the book to pan out quite like it did, so I was pleasantly surprised. This is a real edge of your seat, must read book that will have you welded to the pages. What was all the more interesting for me was Melissa's occupation as a genealogist, which was informative and really enlightening for me. I also loved the chilling sensation I got in parts of the story, I had goosebumps, the writing really was that good. I can't urge everyone enough to go pick up this stunning book today!
The scene in the Prologue is so descriptive I could feel the restless energy of the past! A brilliant start to what underpins the whole story.
Chapter One finds us in present day Kent as Melissa and daughter Jolie are arriving at Ashleigh Manor. They're visiting Great Aunt Dorothy... someone who has never been a part of Melissa's life so the invite had been totally unexpected.
Straight away the reader is drawn into Melissa's sense of déjà vu. Not only does she experience uneasiness but she also has flashbacks.
Chapter Two we're transported to Ashleigh Manor in 1460 which is experienced through Melissa's dream. Here we get to meet Sibell, the owners daughter, and Sir Roger Langford who is journeying to Idenhurst in a quest to find answers.
Jake Precy is the local vet and living in Ashleigh Cottage. He is experiencing the same dreams as Melissa ...
With Melissa's lease due for renewal and Jolie unhappy at her school, the invite to live with Great Aunt Dorothy comes at the right time. Melissa tries to analyse why she is reluctant but eventually compromises by saying they will stay with her until they find their own place.
What follows is time spent in present day Kent with Melissa researching the history of the house and becoming confused about how she truly feels about present day hero Jake ... and regressing back to 15th century Kent being a part of Sibell and Sir Roger's love story. Two love stories entwined...
The conflict comes in present day with Melissa's ex and in the past with Sibell's family. We find out the reason why the ghost has tried through the years to find a resolution and find peace.
Written in the third person, the reader becomes involved in everything that happens in both timelines. Even though each builds in intensity I really enjoyed spending time in the past! Who wouldn't want their own Sir Roger ... It is obvious that the author has researched this time period - everything feels authentic. There are references (and one scene in particular) to Wars of the Roses which puts everything in context. The plot flows with sub-plots along the way. Lots to hold the readers interest. There are a few supernatural scenes in present day ... and one in particular I found quite scary due to the atmospheric environment and Melissa being on her own. There is also a little magic in a piece of jewellery that has its part to play in the plot.
I loved the genealogy and in fact am very jealous of Melissa's job! Even the tiniest piece of information does cause excitement and Melissa finding the manorial role was a huge find The paper trail our ancestors leave is more varied than you can imagine. Even in church registers you might find snippets that lead you off onto another trail (yes, I have an interest in my own family tree).
The ending is very poignant while at the same time expressing hope for the future.
The Silent Touch of Shadows isn't an average run-of-the-mill love story. If you're looking for something different in this genre then I definitely recommend you add this to your list. Even if you're not, the romance between Sir Roger and Sibell will make your heart sigh with longing.
I would like to thank the publishers, Choc Lit, for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
on 2 August 2013
I found this book extremely interesting even if a little predictable at times. After divorcing her husband and moving to Ashleigh Manor with her daughter, Mel Grantham finds that she is plagued by the ghost of Roger who lived at the time of the War of the Roses. He becomes part of her life, always appearing at inconvenient moments mistaking Mel for his love Sybilla. He takes over her dreams and begs Mel to help him - do what she has initially no idea. Mel finds herself drawn to him and thinks she has fallen in love with a ghost, then begins to wonder if she is going insane. Being a professional genealogist (well she had to be in order to uncover many things, the rest of us would have no idea what to look for) she eventually works out just what Roger wants.
The story itself was a fascinating read but I felt that the author was just too neat with the other characters. For eg Mel's aunt Dorothy conveniently invited her to live at Ashleigh Manor at a time when she needed a new flat. There is the 'dishy' vet who looks so like the ghost of Roger, whose daughter just happens to become the best friend of Mel's daughter. One of Mel's friends just happens to be an archivist at the local archive service and helps her solve the mystery of Roger and who he was.
Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed the book once I had got into it and if you like Barbara Erskine type novels you will enjoy this one. Don't be put off if you are not into history by the mention of the War of the Roses. There is only a brief mention of it towards the end of the book. However the author does show the lawless side of that time and the cruelty of Sybilla's father and brothers.
on 16 July 2012
Sometimes, you read a book & feel that it touches you so deeply. This is what The Silent Touch Of Shadows did for me.
From the prologue I knew I was in for a real treat, and I was certainly not disappointed!
The story is set between 15th century and modern day Kent, in and around Ashleigh manor, and follows the story of professional genealogist, Melissa Grantham, who is trying to heal herself and make a new life for her and her daughter after a painful divorce.
As soon as she visits Ashleigh manor, Melissa starts to have odd feelings and moments of deja-vu where you begin to realise that there is a connection to her. She is soon 'affected' by a ghostly presence there, and makes it her aim to use her professional researching abilities to try and bring the spirit some peace, finding love and peace in her own life along the way.
The amount the author has researched this period is apparent, and her beautiful descriptive writing transports the reader effortlessly back in time.
I loved every page of this book, and felt truly saddened by Roger's death (though being a ghost it should not have come as a terrible shock - it still did!) and thought the ending was truly perfect.
I really loved this book, and Christina Courtenay's writing flair.
on 19 May 2013
I was requested to review this book (and several others by this author) as a favour to a colleague who works at the same publishers as me.
Its an enjoyable read. Not long, can be read in a few hours.
The book doesn't have Pulitzer caliber prose, lacks detail and isn't big on descriptions but its fine for a quick, absorbing read. The characters are enduring and the plot has a satisfying ending.
The thing I've noticed and admired about the author's books (Scarlet Kimono and The Silent Touch of Shadows) is that she doesn't try and portray characters in an extreme manner. i.e. the ex husband isn't a complete bas$tard and the domineering father is a product of his time ( as well as being selfish). But none are completely good or completely evil as such. The character development is therefore far more mature and realistic than what one can expect from a chic lit author.
I don't usually like reading about vulnerable single mum's but this book is different. It helps that the hero (the present time one anyway) is a single dad. The vulnerability of both is equal.
Some things fell into place a bit too neatly (the protagonist relationship, their children getting along) etc but i won't say much as i don't want to give the plot away.
on 2 March 2013
A Silent Touch of shadows - apart from having a brilliant title - is a beguiling and attractive tale set in two worlds. In real time, following the story of Melissa and Jake, and, in the 15th Century, a tale of tragedy and loss for Roger and Sibell.
With a wealth of historical and genealogical data weaving itself into the story, this tale effortlessly bestrides both its centuries.
I fall well outside the normal demographic for historical romance, but I would unhesitatingly recommend A Silent Touch of Shadows on every front. An absorbing read, with sympathetic characters.
Genealogist Melissa is finding it hard to get her life back on track after her husband has not only left her for another woman, but started a new family too. When the offer to visit her great aunt's ancestral manor house in rural Kent appears out of the blue, Melissa jumps at the change of scene. From first sight she is drawn to the house, and she and her twelve year old daughter Jolie decide to accept her aunt's kind offer and move in with her. Before long Melissa starts experiencing very real dreams where she is visited by Roger, a handsome knight from the 15th century - he is pleading for her to help him. Meanwhile Melissa meets Jake the father of Jolie's new friend Amy. Jake is the local vet and unbeknown to Melissa at the beginning, he is also experiencing strange dreams, his featuring a red haired beauty, also from the 15th century. How their dreams are linked and the lengths they have to go to to solve this 600 year old mystery, makes for an exciting and very interesting story.
The story is written in two time zones, present day and 15th century and one of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that the different times are entwined together in small chunks - so you don't get fully engrossed in one time zone and lose track of the other, as can often happen with books written in different time zones. In this book, the short chapters are alternative past and present.
The characters are well drawn and became real in my mind - I was thinking about them when not reading the book, this is how much the characters got inside my head. An unusual and beautifully written story. I recommend it without reservation.