Review: The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

Title: The Silk House

Author: Kayte Nunn

Published: June 30th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

+++++++

My Thoughts:

 

The Silk House is an entrancing novel from Kayte Nunn, unfolding over two timelines from the perspectives of three women.

The novel begins in the present as Thea Rust reports for work at her father’s alma mater, Oxleigh College. The exclusive English boarding school has accepted its first ever class of girls, and Thea, a history teacher, is to live in with them at their campus residence, known as Silk House.

In 1768, Rowan Caswell is an orphan employed as a maid-of-all-work by the owners of Silk House, silk merchant Patrick, and his wife Caroline Hollander. The home is not a happy one, for the master’s moods are mercurial and the mistress longs for a child.

Mary-Louise Stephenson is a spinster facing penury with her widowed sister. She believes she is capable of creating unique silk designs that will assure her a fortune, but the male dominated industry is uninterested until silk merchant Patrick Hollander offers her a commission.

Nunn weaves links between the past and present as Thea bears witness to the echoes of tragedy. Troubled by her experience of mysterious occurrences in Silk House, Thea investigates the building’s history discovering it’s reputation for being haunted due to a series of deaths, beginning with that of Caroline Hollander.

The story of Caroline’s haunting demise is revealed primarily through Rowan, who is an unwitting contributor to her mistress’s fate when her knowledge of herbal medicines, passed down to her by her late mother, is ill-used. A suggestion of witchcraft, an omen of bad luck, and a doomed love affair all contribute to the inevitable tragedy that stains Silk House.

To be honest I felt the third perspective of Mary-Louise introduced by Nunn was the only real flaw in the novel, as I thought it superfluous, even though Mary-Louise’s silk fabric design is of some significance in the story. Thea and Rowan are definitely the more compelling characters.

Nevertheless, part ghost story, part mystery the pacing is excellent as the story unravels. Nunn skilfully develops a sense of foreboding and unease as she weaves in and out of the past and present. The story is enriched by historical detail, enhanced by its feminist themes, and enlivened by interesting characters.

Atmospheric and intriguing, with gothic sensibilities, The Silk House is a finely written, spellbinding tale.

++++++

 

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marg
    Jul 10, 2020 @ 18:36:03

    I enjoyed this book and definitely intend to read her backlist now.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. whatcathyreadnext
    Jul 11, 2020 @ 01:24:58

    Great review. I’m attracted by this one and not only because of the gorgeous cover.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Jul 11, 2020 @ 07:45:02

    Gorgeous cover. Great review! Interesting premise.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out
  5. Tracey (Carpe Librum)
    Jul 19, 2020 @ 22:27:52

    Great review, I enjoyed this book too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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