on 23 January 2014
Jenny Ryan is a professional ghost writer, with an interesting past of her own, who finds herself falling in love with her latest subject's beautiful ancestral home, Cauldstane Castle, and its heir, the enigmatic Alec MacNab. Unfortunately, Jenny has a rival for Alec's affections - one who is not bound by the usual laws of nature and who will stop at nothing to get her way. Jenny and the MacNabs must consider an unlikely solution if they are ever to find peace.
Like much of Ms Gillard's work, this story's greatest strength lies in its beautifully observed characters. I defy any red blooded woman not to fall in love with the brooding yet honourable Alec, and I would love to have dinner at Cauldstane with the MacNab family. The book is rich with the experiences of Sholto the explorer, and his family's story is told with such care and attention to detail. Clearly a lot of research went into this book.
But there is a deeper level to the storytelling too. This book explores the themes of loss and fear, and how our experiences mark us and make us into the people we become. Ultimately, it exhorts us to face our fears, especially our fear of loss, and to find the faith in one another to live and love boldly.
I put aside lots of everyday responsibilities as I got caught up in this story, and read the book in record time while my work piled up. It was time well spent and I envy anyone who is about to visit Cauldstane for the first time. It will definitely leave its impression on you...
on 8 February 2014
Each of the other reveiwers has written more eloquently than I ever could about the setting, the characters and themes of Cauldstane, so I'll simply tell you how I feel. Heartbroken to leave my friends on the last page. Envious of readers yet to travel Jenny's journey. I find myself turning on my Kindle and hoping to see somehow, magically, more writing on the screen........
on 25 January 2014
When Jenny accepts the job of ghostwriting a famous explorer's autobiography - and living in his ancestral castle, Cauldstane, in the Highlands of Scotland with the family while she writes - she has no idea what she's let herself in for. Sholto McNab has led a long, colourful, but not always happy life. His son Alec is to inherit Cauldstane, but only if the family can find a way to hang onto their home against financial and other more sinister pressures. As Jenny learns more about the McNabs she discovers a family who have suffered tragedy and loss, but who remain united and unbroken in the face of fear.
The highlight of Linda Gillard's latest novel, for me, was the character of Sholto. He isn't the 'hero' of the novel in a traditional sense, but even in his seventies the Laird seems larger than life. Jenny's book is about his experiences and adventures, so naturally we learn a lot about the family and its history as she interviews the Laird.
His eldest son Alec is at once the most traumatised by the family's past and, as Cauldstane's heir, the most invested in its future. A flawed hero he may be, but a very human one. As ever Gillard's characters are well-drawn, but most importantly they are believable and easy to empathise with. The castle is a big part of the story and a character in its own right, as the setting is in many of the author's books.
In essence "Cauldstane" is a contemporary take on a sort of gothic suspense/romance/country-house mystery format which many readers may be familiar with. It's hard to define the genre exactly, and I couldn't do the book justice if I tried, but suffice to say there is mystery, romance, suspense, gothic elements and even the supernatural. If you have ever read Mary Stewart's books, then this is in the same vein and just as addictive and enjoyable. Linda Gillard's novels all tend to be different from the last, but the common themes of believable and slightly older protagonists, flawed-but-irresistible heroes, and an atmospheric setting are all very much present here.
I loved "Cauldstane", and finished it within hours because once started I couldn't bear to put it down. Very highly recommended, along with Gillard's earlier novels. "Untying the Knot" is still my absolute favourite, and is a natural fit with "Cauldstane" in terms of characters' difficult pasts continuing to affect the present. Gillard is and will remain one of the authors whose books I 'auto-buy' as soon as they appear on Amazon, and "Cauldstane" is well worthy of it.
on 26 January 2014
I have just spent a whole weekend at `Cauldstane', to the exclusion of everything and everyone else in my life, in order to discover the fate of the characters in Ms Gillard's latest gripping novel.
I was initially reluctant to engage with a story described as `Gothic' and woven around ancient curses and what was billed as a suspenseful and scary story. I thought I may find this unsettling and outside of my usual comfort zone. My feet are usually planted firmly in the `safe' and predictable. Having read Ms Gillard's other works, all of which I have enjoyed, I downloaded her latest book prepared to at least have a go at what I was sure I would probably not enjoy.
How wrong I was. From the first chapters I was completely absorbed by the book, with themes of facing up to and overcoming fear at its heart.
I have usually found with Ms Gillard's books, that as well as being entertained by the characters and the way their stories unfold, I am introduced to fascinating background facts and information which colour in the narrative and edify me along the way. `Cauldstane' is no exception and the thoroughness of the research is clearly evident. Ms Gillard has again managed to create unforgettable characters whom I cared about.
I am not going to expound further on the story, I would hate to spoil it for others. All I will say is that I am glad that I overcame my initial reluctance when I read the plot line and decided to give this book a go. I have had a very memorable weekend!
When Jenny Ryan travels to Cauldstane Castle in the Scottish Highlands to meet with the enigmatic explorer, Sholto MacNab, she expects that his aversion towards female writers will prove something of a stumbling block; however, Sholto needs someone to ghost write his memoirs and Jenny is the best there is in the business. With some trepidation on both their parts, Jenny and Sholto begin the daunting task of fleshing out the glorious details of Sholto's life and yet malevolent forces at work within the castle are set to make sure that Jenny's task is far from straightforward.
Running throughout the narrative like a shadowy thread is a story of a spiteful spirit whose unpleasant interference threatens the very safety of those people whose affinity for Cauldstane runs deep. But where there is darkness there is also light and a delicious assortment of characters whose very personalities infuse the story with warmth and charm. From the enigmatic and tenacious Sholto, through to the mesmerising charm of Alec, the armourer whose skill at swordplay leaves Jenny, and no doubt a few other female readers, quite breathless, this story of ancient curses, malevolent mischief and illicit desire has all the ingredients of an outstanding Gothic novel.
As a reader I have devoured books by Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt and there is no doubt that Linda Gillard's rare gift for storytelling has been influenced by her own passion for this type of Gothic romance. Her uncanny ability to create pictures with words takes you on a journey into the very heart and soul of the Scottish Highlands and as the cold stone of Cauldstane Castle trembles under your fingertips, you sense the fear and feel the ingrained majesty and loneliness of this place of ancient secrets, curses and sadness.
To lose yourself in a Linda Gillard novel is like curling up on the sofa with your best friend, whose secrets are infinitely more exciting than your own, and in whose company you never fail to be mesmerised.
on 16 April 2014
This is the first Linda Gillard novel I have ever read. I was attracted to it by the fact that it was compared with Daphne Du Maurier's classic, Rebecca, and by its rather gothic cover which was intriguing.
Imogen Ryan, a successful novelist, has turned to ghost-writing for other people as J J Ryan, after a very difficult time in her own life. After deliberately keeping quiet about her gender, she is hired by the famous explorer and adventurer, Sholto McNab, to tell his story, Jenny travels to Sholto's ancestral home, Cauldstane, a castle in the highlands of Scotland, to begin work on the book, and is made welcome by the laird's family - his two sons, Alec and Fergus, his sister Zelda, and loyal housekeeper Wilma. She soon wins over the laird himself, despite his initial reluctance to hire a woman, and begins work on his story, interviewing him daily as he recounts his adventures both exploring the world and at home. Sholto has been married twice and both wives died tragically. Alec, his eldest son, was also married but his wife met a tragic end, too. Fergus is unmarried and it seems he will remain so. Before long, Jenny hears of the family motto, "Let Fear be Far from All" and the reason for it - the McNab curse.
As she becomes involved in the lives of the family and grows to love the castle itself, Jenny finds herself in grave danger - because someone at the castle doesn't want her there, and that person is determined to get her out of the way, whatever it takes.
I was drawn into this book from the beginning. The idea of a remote Scottish castle, a curse, and a family who have suffered, and continue to suffer, because of it, was irresistible. Each character was interesting and the castle was a character itself, beautifully described and so crucial to the story that I found myself rooting for its survival.
Cauldstane is more than it appears at first. It is a ghost story, a love story, and also a study in fear and what that fear can do to a family living in its shadow. Can a curse destroy your life, even if you don't believe in it? As Jenny sees the family members losing faith and all hope, and faces the real possibility that Cauldstane will be lost to the McNabs, she has to somehow remind them of their family motto, and together they have to deal with their fears and find a way to defeat them once and for all.
At the heart of the story is the love between Jenny and Alec, Sholto's eldest son, who carries a burden that threatens to destroy him. He is well-written, noble, proud and honourable and I found myself quite falling for him. I'm a sucker for a laird, or even a laird-in-waiting it seems.
I am thrilled to have found a new author (to me) with several other novels that I can now download and enjoy. I read Cauldstane over the course of two evenings and it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to the castle and its wonderful inhabitants and closed down my Kindle. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
on 4 February 2014
Having enjoyed all of Linda Gillard's previous novels 'Cauldstane' was eagerly anticipated and this reader was once again thrilled to be drawn into a wonderful world created by this immensely talented author. A child-free weekend was almost entirely devoted to the pleasure of reading it in fact.
The action is based in and around an atmospheric old Scottish castle with a sinister presence worthy of Daphne Du Maurier. It is a well paced story with romance, mystery and intrigue and a cast of well rounded, flawed and lovable characters such as a fan of Ms Gillard has come to expect. The characters are so well drawn, so human and real that you feel intimately acquainted with their inner worlds. They are crafted in true Linda Gillard style.
It is a story that kept me turning the pages at two o'clock in the morning, when I'd intended to turn the lights out by midnight and I did this two nights running. I simply couldn't wait to arrive at the end, which was magical and then I wished that the story would last just a little bit longer. Like any good book, it ended where the ending belonged and I was left with my imagination to take the characters further.
You know when you finish a book and it leaves a hole and you can't imagine which book could possibly follow it? Well, this is one of those books. It curled up with me and became a friend and I knew I was going to miss it before I even finished it. I can only hope that Linda Gillard won't be taking too long a break, because for purely selfish reasons I'm already willing her to start writing again!
on 26 January 2014
Jenny Ryan is hired to ghostwrite the life story of Sholto McNab, the elderly, eccentric Laird of Cauldstane Castle.
It isn't long until Jenny finds herself tangled up in the mysteries and secrets of Cauldstane - an apparently cursed and haunted castle in the Highlands of Scotland.
I have once again been enchanted and captivated by Linda Gillard's beautiful and descriptive prose; I didn't just fall in love with the characters, but also the Castle, and the surroundings.
I thought that there was also a wee dash of "Monarch of the Glen", in there too!
The Author explored 'fear', in great detail, in this story. In real life we are always running from fear. Fear is always there, it just slowly becomes background noise. The characters in the story are no different, but what happens when you are forced to confront fear with fear?
I've been following the progress of this book, via Facebook, for the past year. The author has delivered a wonderful story that has kept me glued to my Kindle all weekend!
on 1 July 2014
Every now & again I want to switch my brain off & escape into 'romantic suspense' land. Cauldstane is perfect for this. Imagine a cross between Mary Stewart & Barbara Erskine; good pace, attractive male characters, ancient house & family secrets with a Du Maurier type ghost thrown in for good measure.
A touch predictable and the cast lack real depth but a rollicking good read if you want some light entertainment. Supermarket own brand cava!
on 28 January 2014
I've loved all Linda Gillard's books and have been waiting eagerly for this one, and it certainly didn't disappoint me. There are so many twists and turns in the story that you are kept on the edge of your seat wondering what is coming next, and although in the cold light of day I suppose it's an unbelievable story, it's so well written that it seems completely credible. I was in the middle of reading a book by a much better known author and was getting rather fed up with all the coincidences and unlikely events, so was delighted to drop it to read "Cauldstane". I expect I shall go back to the other book eventually, but I know I shan't enjoy it to the same extent. I won't spoil it for other people by revealing anything, but don't be out off by the mention of ghosts and gothic - I don't usually like that genre either, but I loved this book and am sorry to have finished it.