Linda Gillard

Time's Prisoner - Reviews

Time's Prisoner - Reviews

Times Prisoner reviews

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“A heart-warming and heart-stopping story. Once I started, I couldn’t stop until I’d finished. Romance, art and suspense… TIME’S PRISONER has it all.”

CLARE FLYNN, author of The Pearl of Penang and The Artist’s Apprentice

"Linda Gillard's books are always gripping, and here was another that entranced me from the first page. A beautifully atmospheric setting, with original, well-drawn characters, a truly credible romance, and spookiness to make one jump. Definitely a must-read."

JANE GORDON-CUMMING, author of A Proper Family Christmas , reviewing on Amazon

A review by ANNE WILLIAMS from her Being Anne book blog.

An unexpected legacy – the tenancy of the Elizabethan manor house of Wyngrave Hall – provides Jane with the much-needed opportunity of a fresh start. Her family relationships were always complicated, her career as a writer of Elizabethan whodunnits has stalled, her marriage has recently ended in divorce, she’s experienced significant personal loss, and she’s facing middle age alone – so she chooses to share her new home with three women also at crossroads in their own lives. As she grows increasingly comfortable with her new future, she gradually becomes able to put her past to rest – and move forward, enjoying her new friendships and even opening herself to the possibility of romance. But that “unseen occupant” opens up a whole new layer to her story – a long hidden mystery, complex and heart-breaking, that she’s committed (and particularly well-suited) to resolve.

I loved everything about this book, but particularly enjoyed the characterisation. Jane describes herself as a “sex-starved, embittered, middle-aged woman, struggling to rise above the ignominy of being left for a younger woman” – but she has a wonderfully wry take on the hand that life has dealt her, and I found her efforts to survive and flourish very easy to identify and empathise with. Her character becomes increasingly rounded through the sharing of her unsent emails to a friend recently lost – and through the interactions with the women she’s chosen to share her life with, all equally perfectly drawn.

Sylvia particularly won a place in my heart – a former actress with an anecdote for every occasion, her increasing fragility and diminishing eyesight handled with particular sensitivity. Ros’s acerbic asides frequently made me smile, and should I ever find myself acquiring a dilapidated Elizabethan pile needing constant maintenance, I really hope it’ll come complete with the capable Bridget. I very much enjoyed the developing relationships between them all – but also Jane’s slow steps, lowering her defences as she builds an increasingly strong relationship with Jesper, who joins them at first to restore some of the hall’s neglected paintings.

And then, of course, there’s that watching presence, and the elements of the supernatural you’ll undoubtedly be rather expecting – especially after the book’s intriguing death-bed prologue. It’s all so perfectly handled that it gave me no issues whatsoever for me around suspension of disbelief, becoming increasingly central to the narrative, and enabling the telling of an emotionally engaging and compelling story rooted in Elizabethan times.

You might notice the quotes from Hamlet that begin each chapter, hinting cleverly at the developments to come – and the shared resonances within the story itself as it unfolds, although unfamiliarity with the play certainly wouldn’t be an obstacle to your enjoyment. And then there are the Lamentations that are interspersed throughout the story – a contemporary Elizabethan account, author at first unknown, but with their identity becoming increasingly evident and integral to the resolution of the mystery.

A window at Baddesley Clinton, Warwicks., owned by the National Trust

Something the author does particularly well is balance the story’s lighter moments – and there are plenty, along with gentle humour – with the warmth of the relationships and the developing romance and the rather more chilling, dramatic and moving historical story that makes the pages turn ever faster. The book has a well developed sense of place – Wyngrave Hall is far more than a mere backdrop, its history captured within its fabric. And another element I found fascinating was the depth of detail about art restoration, wonderfully researched, and very much part of the unfolding story.

I know I’ve said it before – possibly about every other book this exceptional author has ever written – but this really is storytelling at its very best. The writing is immersive, the story compelling, emotionally astute, sometimes disturbing, very moving, full of the unexpected – but also quite wonderfully entertaining, with a lightness at times that you might not be expecting. I read this book in two glorious sittings – the world disappeared, and I found it impossible to put down until the very end. Be sure to add it to your reading list – I promise you’ll love it as much as I did.

A portrait of William Arundell by George Gower, 1580

"Linda Gillard's novels, to date, have been excellent. This one though, TIME'S PRISONER, surpasses all the rest. The quality of her writing, the creation of such an intriguing plot, her insightful descriptions of the relations among each of her characters in this story is definitely her best ever! It's got everything: mystery, history and more, much more! A very well deserved five stars!"

EVIE JOHNSTONE reviewing on Amazon

"A brilliant book. I love Linda Gillard’s writing. She can make you believe in ghosts."
MAGGIE CHRISTENSEN, author of The Bellbird Bay series, reviewing on Amazon