The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell #Spooktasticread

Wyrd&Wonder

Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

Not many more days left now with the Wyrd and Wonder #Spooktasticreads event – and I have so much to cram in.  Reviews, reviews, reviews.  I’ll give it a shot.  Today, The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell.

the silent cOh my.  This book is just about perfect, for me.  Well, no, it’s probably perfect for anybody who wants to read beautiful writing, a gothic story, split timelines and just some major spooky goings on.  I loved this book.  I don’t know if it could be any better to be honest.  I didn’t have a single quibble, not one.  Commence the gushing.

Okay, I’m late to the Purcell Party so I’m sure that not too much plot outline is needed here, everybody has probably already read this book and waxed lyrical but for those like me, who live under a rock, allow me to gush emphatically for a few hundred words in a bid to tempt you to pick this one up.  If you don’t want to give up more of your precious time reading the rest of this, okay, I relate, the TL:DR version is read the book.  Simples.

So, the good, the better and the best.  Here goes.

The plot, which I will only briefly elaborate on.  Set in 1865 Elsie Bainbridge is the central focus of the story.   Recently married and then widowed she went from the dizzy euphoria of being raised from the stigma of being a spinster to being married and then with crashing finality became the focus of malicious gossip almost overnight when her husband died suddenly leaving her the soul heir of his fortune.  Yeah, these things don’t fly to well with most people.  Elsie and Rupert’s marriage was something of a business deal in the beginning but Elsie definitely cared for her husband and with a baby on the way had expectations of falling in love.  With Rupert’s demise Elsie finds herself on a road she hadn’t anticipated.  Her younger brother, and co runner of the business they operate, thinks it best if Elsie escapes to the country until the gossip dies down.  Unfortunately the country retreat isn’t exactly Pemberley.   The estate is run down, the house worn and tired and the nearest village a hotbed of poverty and resentment.

Now, the story begins to unfold in a delicious fashion.  Evocative and spooky the Bridge (the country home) is something of an enigma.  The locals won’t step near the place, one too many skeletons have been found, not even in closets but on the actual estate, a few too many suspicious deaths, in fact if you look closely at the family and it’s heritage it’s almost like they’re cursed.

Elsie is keen for new beginnings though.  She has something of a dark past, her one shining light is her brother, who she tried to protect.  Of course, being a heiress comes with a certain amount of baggage.  Resentment and pure dislike topping the list.  On top of that things are not as they seem at The Bridge.  Secrets are the order of the day  and in spite of Elsie’s attempts to spruce the place up and help the local residents things slowly start to unravel.  Particularly after the Garret, a room that was previously locked, is mysteriously opened.

On top of getting a feel for Elsie’s life we also jump back in time when a couple of journals are found in the Garret.  These journals document the life of Anne Bainbridge.  Her’s is a fascinating story and an equally intriguing storyline to read.  Her husband is ambitious and longs to impress the Court.  When the King and Queen announce that they will stay at his country seat for one night during their summer tour it’s like all his dreams have come true.  However, the locals fear Alice.  They think she’s a witch – common enough during the period (1635) given her love and natural affinity for herb lore but – Annie’s fourth child, a daughter that she desperately longed for and shouldn’t have been able to carry after complications with her third son’s birth, was born mute.  Hetta is an unusual child, like her mother, she loves plants and herbs and is something of a deft hand even at a tender age.  But there’s something different about her, something a little unsettling.  Her father thinks she should remain out of sight during the royal visit and so the start of their troubles commence.

Haha – did I say I wasn’t going to elaborate on the plot.  I guess I got carried away with the wish to dish.  And, I haven’t even given away the best part yet.  I recall being in English class when I was about 12/13 years of age.  Our teacher was making a point about something in particular and it’s with stories like these that that point really comes back to mind.  Deceptively simple and yet stunningly effective – a lot is given away in the title.  Of course I had no idea about that when I picked this up and the cleverness here is that the title could relate to a couple of other characters,  Hetta for example who is unable to communicate, or Sarah – Rupert’s cousin and now companion to Elsie – she doesn’t really have much of a say in things being a dependent.  Yes, of course the title could easily include those and does so quite beautifully –  but the scariness of the story, the absolute genius – is the Silent Companions.  And that is all.  I’m not going to say anything further – you can discover it for yourself just like I did.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say you will be gripped.  Boy oh boy could the Victorians come up with some creepy crap – and here I was thinking that taking photographs of people after they died was a bit scary.  Noooo.  This, this.  What on earth was this all about – I mean, okay, I’m not going to tell you what I’m talking about but why oh why would you have these hideous creations about your home.  Just why?

And, the icing on the cake – we have yet another time jump.  We’re still with Elsie but she’s a little older and she’s being held in an asylum, pending an enquiry into a number of deaths.  I know.  How freaking good is this book – really, you have to read it if you haven’t already.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, because I was convinced this was going to be a short and pithy review, I loved this.  The writing is exquisite the concept is brilliant.  I truly didn’t have a clue what to think or expect.  I couldn’t put the book down except for absolute essentials, everybody in the family is convinced I’ve run away because I’ve been secreted in a closet for approximately 24 hours reading none stop.  Oh hell yes.  Purcell is on the list.  Give me the next book now.  I won’t be waiting quite so long next time.

Where I got a copy – bought.

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25 Responses to “The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell #Spooktasticread”

  1. sjhigbee

    Oh my goodness! You clearly are smitten with this one, Lynn. I haven’t read any of Purcell’s work, but you have convinced me to track this one down…

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, do it – I loved the concept and would love to know what you think of it.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        I’ll see if I can track it down, Lynn:)

      • @lynnsbooks

        I hope you do – it’s so good.
        Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Thank you for the recommendation, Lynn:)

  2. Tammy

    Excellent review!! Wasn’t this the best? And a copy of her new book The Corset just came in the mail, so I’m going to have to restrain myself until I get a few more review books read. Also, I love this UK cover, there are so many hidden details about the story!!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m definitely going to pick up the Corset on the strength of this one. I missed the window for a review copy as it’s already out in the UK but I’m going to buy a copy immediately.
      Lynn 😀

  3. waytoofantasy

    This sounds so good! Also, I love this cover. Ahhhh, I really want to rush out and read this but I have so much on my plate right now. I will add this to my list though. Thanks for the review!

  4. Book Club Mom

    This sounds really great – I love reading reviews that gush! I do not know Laura Purcell, but now I’m going to add The Silent Companions to my list!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you love it – I thought it was brilliant.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Carmen

    Great review, Lynn! I skimmed some parts of your review because I’m reading this book right now. The idea was to make it in time before the end of the R.I.P. XIII Challenge, but it won’t be possible; I didn’t read at all for three days last week. I’m liking it so far and finding it delightfully spooky, just not overtly so. Glad you loved it; I hope I do too.

  6. jennifertarheelreader

    I started this one a while ago and had to put it aside because I was savoring it slowly and had a bunch of other reads to get to. This one read pretty perfectly, and I’m so happy to hear you loved it too. It’s just the nudge I needed to return to it. Terrific review, Lynn!

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh yay, I didn’t know you had the review up already when I saw your weekly roundup post. I jumped right into your review as soon as I saw it in my feed. So glad you enjoyed it! I really had a good time getting drawn into the story and the atmosphere was just so creepy.

    Also, I discussed with Tammy about this in her review too but speaking of picking on subtle things in the story, did you notice (and people who want to avoid getting spoiled should stop reading this comment right now) the weird relationship between the protagonist and her brother? Someone I saw on Goodreads picked up on that too, and posited that Jolyon was actually Elsie’s son because of the abuse by her father and all these other little hints scattered in the story. Then the author actually confirmed it in the book’s Q&A section, and it just blew my mind! She said her editor didn’t want to make it too obvious so she made all the references vague on purpose. It made me wonder what else she’s hidden in the details!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, I confess I hadn’t picked up on that one. It makes me want to go back and see if I missed a trail of breadcrumbs. It was obvious about the abuse so I perhaps should have paid more attention to the timings – there was one thing that stood out in my head when I read it but then I forgot to follow it up – when Elsie’s brother mentioned that her mother said she was wicked or something like that. I kind of put it down to the ‘abuse’ and that maybe her mother blamed her (which would be awful but also possible) but then again, maybe her mother was unaware of the abuse and thought instead that she was promiscuous having a child out of wedlock – how intriguing.
      Lynn 😀

  8. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I remember reading about this book some time ago, and I know I was intrigued by it since I found it listed in my “wanted” book file, but I have not come around to it yet. Now that I’ve read your more than enthusiastic review (just to use an understatement… 😀 ) I know I have waited far too long…
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ooohh, yes, pick this one up – it’s so good. I loved the central idea – so creepy.
      Lynn 😀

  9. jessicabookworm

    Lynn, clearly I live under a rock because I have not heard anything about this book, but it sounds like exactly my cup of tea! 🙂

  10. October : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell […]

  11. bkfrgr

    I’ve read a couple of reviews of this one and seen it at the library and ummed and ahhed about giving it a go … and now I HAVE TO! You’ve made it sound so good!!! Thank you … off to request it from library … 😀

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