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A compelling tale of dangerous emotions,
This review is from: A Spell of Winter (Paperback)
Helen Dunmore enjoys an almost subliminal skill in crafting a story that truly delivers heavyweight punches wrapped in a velvet glove and which, you suddenly become aware has gripped you unmercifully in its embrace.
Rob and Cathy are siblings alone in the world. To them it seems that their parents simply deserted them, their mother preferring a life without children and their father consigning himself to a sanatorium, leaving them in the care of an aging grandfather in his fading country house. With no knowledge of their family history and complete lack of parental attachment, Rob and Cathy construct a world that is entirely based on themselves and their love for each other. Into this world they freely admit Kate, a twenty nine year old loving nanny and their one true friend, and reluctantly Miss Gallagher, who continually forces her way in with an unreciprocated love for Cathy and silent dislike of Rob.
On the surface this is a story of children growing up and, with little external contact, constructing their own world of play and fantasy. They develop the skills and pursuits of children raised in a less-than-wealthy but nonetheless privileged country house setting, with a self-confidence to match, especially in Rob. And all the time they need no-one's company but their own.
But as the world outside moves inexorably towards the horrors of war, this small group of innocent individuals grows blindly into passions and emotions of such depth and consequence that their lives are in no less danger.
Dunmore's beautiful, entrancing style masks an ability to stop you dead in your tracks, whilst some passages rival the suspense-building capabilities of Edgar Allen Poe. Is it fifty pages too long? Probably, but you need a little pause for breath occasionally.