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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
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The Silent Companions (2018)

by Laura Purcell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2703162,473 (3.77)14
  1. 10
    Dummy Boards and Chimney Boards by Clare Graham (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: Dummy Boards, also called Silent Companions inspired Laura Purcell's horror novel.
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Its hard to get the right vibe for gothic fiction in our modern times. Purcell wisely decides to set her story in the Victorian period and adds a healthy dose of 'Yellow Wall-Paper' paranoia.

Soon after her marriage Elsie Banbridge is made a widow and sent to wait out her pregnancy at her husband's remote family estate, The Bridge. Her only companion is a cousin, her deceased husband's only living family, and a few servants. The estate has something of a dark reputation in the village and Elsie feels isolated. The discovery of a 'silent companion', a trompe l'oeil figure painted on a board, in a locked attic room awakens old rumors and fears. The figure, painted in the late 17th century, looks like Elsie, and soon she discovers it is not alone.

A quick read, and quite chilling. The use of the Companions, or dummy boards, was genius. Good period detail and flawless setting. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 20, 2019 |
I loved this book. Well written, vivid descriptions, nice and unsettling. ( )
  pabwork | Jan 10, 2019 |
Promising start but wooden and predictable. ( )
  kwp | Dec 16, 2018 |
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell is a 2018 Penguin Books publication.

The best Gothic Horror novel I’ve read in a long time!

Elsie, recently widowed, and pregnant with her first child arrives in a remote village, with her husband’s cousin, Sarah, to live in an old home, owned by her husband, referred to as ‘The Bridge’, which has not been lived in for quite some time. Due to her husband’s wealth, and his sudden death so soon after their marriage, rumors and scandal are breathing down Elsie’s neck, but the villagers and her limited staff are also quite superstitious about her, and the house.

While exploring the house, which is full of locked rooms, Elsie finds some old diaries, as well a ‘Silent companion’ – which is a painted wooden figure that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie.

The staff is terrified of the 'companions', but Elsie is determined to learn of their origins. As it happens, diary entries written by Anne Bainbridge back in the 1600s, provides Elsie with plenty of shocking family secrets-

The story is told in three alternating segments-

Elsie, badly burned in a fire, is under the care of a doctor who is attempting to discover her culpability in that fire and her level of sanity. As the doctor slowly draws the story from Elsie we are taken back to her arrival at ‘The Bridge’, as she explains her experiences leading up to the deadly fire. We are also transported back to the 1600’s via Anne’s diaries, where we learn Anne may have dabbled in a little witchcraft to conceive a child- a decision she may come to regret.

Wow! I let this book sit on my TBR list longer than I had intended. For some reason when I picked it up I was under the impression this was a historical mystery of some kind. I was totally taken off guard by the chilly ambience, the overwhelming Gothic tones, and the rip-roaring, spine tingling ghost story!! To say I was pleased is an understatement!

This is one of those stories that makes a good fireside read on a cold, dark winter night. It’s very well constructed, multi-layered, written in a lush, almost beautiful prose. I haven’t read a recently published novel of Gothic horror this good in…. I couldn’t tell you when.

This is what Gothic horror should look like- and feel like. The atmosphere was thick and heavy with impending doom, the suspense was taut, keeping me on edge and practically glued to the pages. I’d never heard of a ‘Silent Companion’ until I read this book. The history behind them is interesting, but in this case, they creeped me out big time.

This is a perfect, shivery, chiller with an OUTSTANDING conclusion that will blow your socks off!

Yep, this one goes on the favorites list, for sure!!

5 stars ( )
1 vote gpangel | Nov 6, 2018 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Purcell, Lauraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forner, AlisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

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Book description
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting. When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her. A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves-- Provided by publisher.

They seem to be even more frequently referred to as dummy boards (not nearly as snappy a title)
Silent companions on Incollect.com.
Dummy boards on Past Mastery
Synopsis of an article by Clive Edwards in Studies in the Decorative Arts
Short article by Luke Honey on Home & Antiques
Web searches of images will also pull up a lot of examples.
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"When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting. When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her. A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves"--… (more)

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