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A Spell of Winter: A Novel Paperback – January 9, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This is an absolutely haunting book. The writing was just about as beautiful and powerful as any I've encountered. Dunmore created such a strong sense of place that was so enveloping that I had to take breaks from reading just to warm up and bring myself back to my life, because I felt like if I spent too much time there in the world of the book, I'd be trapped and never make it out. I'm excited to read more by this author.
Although the above is certainly an engrossing way to open a novel, it really doen't have anything to do with the story that follows, except for introducing Catherine Allen, who, as a grown woman, will be our narrator through his dark and Gothic tale.
As a passionate, independent woman who harbors far more than her share of both secrets and pain, Catherine Allen looks much as we would expect her to look, possessing dark, unruly hair and dark eyes that unnerve even the most strong-willed.
Catherine's sharer-of-secrets and co-conspirtor is her brother, Rob, who seems, even at his young age, to be something of a dandy and, perhaps, more affected by the strange goings-on at the decaying estate the two call home than is Catherine.
If Rob and Cathy aren't your typical children, even in a drafy English country manor house, it might have something to do with the fact that their parents are not your typical parents. Their mother (who was perhaps the wisest of them all, though definitely not the most kind-hearted), bolted from the strangeness of it all to live a bohemian life in the south of France. Their father made his escape through insanity and died (under suspicious circumstances) in an asylum ironicaly called, the Sancturary.Read more ›
Cathy lives in a large run down country house with her Grandfather, known locally as `the man from nowhere'. As Cathy looks back on past events in her life we encounter past inhabitants of the house; her brother Rob, the Irish housekeeper Kate, the mysterious Eileen and numerous servants employed from the local village.
Cathy and Rob's mother, who was a baby when she arrived with Cathy's grandfather at the country house, left when Cathy and Rob were very young. Their father has also `abandoned' them due to his mental illness and is being treated at a sanatorium. Their grandfather has retreated into his study from which he very rarely emerges and so Rob and Cathy are largely left to their own devices apart from the able assistance and love of their housekeeper and friend, Kate.
Secrets and lies are cemented into the very brickwork and foundation of the house and its real and metaphysical decay begins to expose those two fragile elements to householders and visitors alike. These two sides of the same coin seep and bleed through the novel and their exposure is being hurried by the likes of Ms Eunice Gallagher, Cathy and Rob's former tutor and governess.
This 1996 winner of The Orange Prize for Fiction is like the curate's egg, excellent in parts. Helen Dunmore's characters are wonderfully written. As you read through the novel it feels like each line is creating the skin and bone and organs of each character while each chapter is pumping blood through their perfectly, forming bodies. By the end of A Spell of Winter, one feels that one has not only read about the characters but has actually met them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's okay. Nothing to write home about, but for any reader who is piqued, read it. It won't hurt you, but be warned, the last half is boring.Published on February 3, 2014 by Artemis
This book is too beautiful for me to review so I will
just share some of my thoughts.
How easily I see that this book had to win the Orange
Prize. Read more
This haunting and evocative novel was the first Orange Prize Winner and set a high standard for future hopefuls. Read morePublished on September 18, 2013 by S Riaz
The book starts slow, but then the writer builds a rhythm that puts you in Catherine's world and mind. Read morePublished on September 9, 2013 by K K C
Each season has its own feel about it and winter is certainly one of the coldest, bleakest times of the year. Read morePublished on February 27, 2013 by Mirrani
An absent mother and dying father leave Catherine and her brother Rob in pseudo-isolation, encouraging the relationship between them to grow intense and intimate. Read morePublished on November 5, 2012 by Juushika
Just like the reviews written here, this book started out very good. Midway, again going strong, then .....then.....then.....are you kidding me.... Read morePublished on September 10, 2010 by T214T1987
When I finished this book, I couldn't help but think that maybe the author was resolving her issues with how V.C. Andrews ended her Dollanganger series. Read morePublished on November 12, 2009 by d'Banana