A Spell of Winter Paperback – 25 Oct 2007
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A marvellous novel about forbidden passions (Daily Mail)
An intensely gripping book...written so seductively that some passages sing out from the page, like music for the eyes (Sunday Times)
A hugely involving story which often stops you in your tracks with the beauty of its writing (Observer)
An electrifying and original talent, a writer whose style is characterized by a lyrical, dreamy intensity (Guardian)
From the Back Cover
'A marvellous novel about forbidden passions' Daily Mail
'An intensely gripping book...written so seductively that some passages
sing out from the page, like music for the eyes' Sunday Times
'A hugely involving story which often stops you in your tracks with the
beauty of its writing' Observer
'An electrifying and original talent, a writer whose style is characterized
by a lyrical, dreamy intensity' Guardian
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel confronts parental abandonment, mental illness, incest, love and the tragedy of war with the lightest and most effective touch. The natural world and a strongly developed host of supporting characters provide a strong framework for a deeply personal tale.
At times the insights into a young girl's soul (it is written in the first person)seem almost pornographic in their intimacy but they render this work compelling.
Helen Dunmore evokes all the senses to the full, so much so that you almost feel the scratchy roughness of Rob's jacket against your skin, and suffer the claustrophobic intensity of Miss Gallagher's interest in Catherine, the young narrator. You instinctively dislike Miss Gallagher, an impression underlined by the writing: 'Her bicycle was by the front steps. Upright, ugly and insistent.' And, 'The coat flopped around her, long and lean as a washed-out banana.'
Kate, the Irish maid, is the one warm gleam in the children's otherwise wintry lives, but apart from Kate they have only each other. The book, set around the first world war, is an exploration of their relationship and its development as they grow up. The story might have its darker aspects but I loved it. I would urge anyone interested in the beauty of the English language to read it and savour every word.
A brother and sister are left parentless at an early age. They are brought up in a very sheltered way by a troubled grandfather, and the housemaid (not much older than themselves), in a large and deteriorating country manor. Set around the time of the First World War, this duo are caught up in a period of social hierarchy with high societal moral values. As a result, they find out early on that they have to work together to keep family secrets deeply hidden in the past. Effectively isolated from those around them, they increasingly turn to one another for comfort and their relationship develops into something more...
Take the time to get involved as a reader, right from the very start, and you will be rewarded with an intensely involved story of discovering love and adulthood, learning right and wrong. At times disturbing, challenging the boundaries of sibling love, the simple naivety of the leading character and story-teller, Catherine, encourages an empathetic understanding and sympathy for her plight. Although dark and moving, a glimmer of sunshine and redemption can be found towards the end.
The great beauty of Dunmore's language throughout the novel reminds us that she was a poet before becoming a novelist. Her descriptions - of landscape, houses, paintings, food, clothes - are quite superb. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Catherine is taken round George Bullivant's house and sees his paintings, and some of the later scenes where Catherine ends up working the land during World War I. Even when Dunmore is describing disturbing happenings and emotions, her prose is still beautiful. Her characters are compelling as well, particularly Catherine, an intelligent and attractive girl who cannot fit into conventional society, Catherine's strange, wolfish grandfather, Kate the Irish maid, and George Bullivant, with his love of art and Italy. Dunmore also makes us well aware of Rob's attractiveness, though it's clear that he's a rather dangerous man, who doesn't do his sister any good at all. If I could change anything about the book, I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about Catherine's grandfather's life, and about her parents and why they separated.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this more than I had thought I would. It has left me thinking about it long after I finished reading it.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed this book, it is really well written and full of surprises. Overall a sad story of how a brother and sister cope without their parents there to guide them.Published 8 months ago by Robert thrower
This was actually a simple story made complex by the holes in the background and lack of any clear explanation of how the brother and sister came to be together. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Valerie