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A Spell of Winter

A Spell of Winter Bestselling author Helen Dun s third novel A Spell of Winter won the Orange Prize Catherine and her brother Rob don t know why they have been abandoned by their parents Incarcerated in the eno

  • Title: A Spell of Winter
  • Author: Helen Dunmore
  • ISBN: 9780141033587
  • Page: 150
  • Format: Paperback
  • Bestselling author Helen Dun s third novel, A Spell of Winter won the 1996 Orange Prize.Catherine and her brother, Rob, don t know why they have been abandoned by their parents Incarcerated in the enormous country house of their grandfather the man from nowhere they create a refuge against their family s dark secrets, and against the outside world as it moves toBestselling author Helen Dun s third novel, A Spell of Winter won the 1996 Orange Prize.Catherine and her brother, Rob, don t know why they have been abandoned by their parents Incarcerated in the enormous country house of their grandfather the man from nowhere they create a refuge against their family s dark secrets, and against the outside world as it moves towards the First World War As time passes, their sibling love deepens and crosses into forbidden territory But they are not as alone in the house as they believe A marvellous novel about forbidden passions and the terrible consequences of thwarted love Dun is one of the finest English writers Daily Mail 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 GuardianHelen Dun has published eleven novels with Penguin Zennor in Darkness , which won the McKitterick Prize Burning Bright A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize Talking to the Dead Your Blue Eyed Boy With Your Crooked Heart The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002 Mourning Ruby House of Orphan Counting the Stars and The Betrayal, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010 She is also a poet, children s novelist and short story writer.

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    1 thought on “A Spell of Winter

    1. For whatever reason, I have some kind of secret (not to secret now) fascination for literary brother/sister incest stories. Maybe because I have no brothers and thus no frame of reference to get suitably skeeved out by it. But whatever, neither here nor there.The trouble with this book was that it just plain loses you. Parts of it are good - her writing style is gorgeous in places, tedious in others - and frankly, I just had a hard time keeping up with what the hell was going on. You gotta have [...]

    2. Of all Helen Dunmore's books, this is my very favourite. I've read it twice and plan on reading it again because it is a truly beautifully written, haunting tale. The chill which has taken hold of the crumbling previously grand country house and its occupants is almost tangible - you will get cold fingers just holding the book and turning the pages. The house and characters are both occupied by dark secrets and watching the evolution/aftermath which is derived from them makes for compulsive read [...]

    3. This book is a depressing text of the multi-generational misery of one family. I finished the book in hopes of discovery the answer to the family secrets but found no satisfaction there or anywhere else in this book. But somebody liked this book since it is a "Orange Winner" a prestigious award from England. I found it dreary and the characters worthy of a good slap and a "What the heck are you thinking/doing!"

    4. This haunting and evocative novel was the first Orange Prize Winner and set a high standard for future hopefuls. Helen Dunmore creates a world which is at once understandable and yet totally different. Rob and Catherine live in virtual isolation in the crumbling old house belonging to their grandfather. It is gradually revealed to us that their mother has left and is living abroad, while their father, unable to cope without her, has been admitted to a sanitorium. We see events through the eyes o [...]

    5. This tale of a brother and sister in the English countryside is gorgeous, uncomfortable, lyrical, sad and hopeful. Dunmore captures a mood and plunges you into it without mercy. It's a bit of a demanding read--Dunmore leaps across time and space, her narrative mirroring the way people think, but as a result, you are immersed completely. She doesn't rationalize or explain away her characters' actions, but simply presents them without judgment, and while the characters may be difficult to like, th [...]

    6. Ik vond dit een prachtig boek, over hoe bepaalde gebeurtenissen in een leven onze gedragingen zo kunnen beïnvloeden dat er grenzen overschreden worden, en hoe je daarna alles doet om jezelf te beschermen. Het is ook een boek over verlies, alle soorten verlies, van ouders, van een schijnbaar onvoorwaardelijke liefde, van een huis, van verwachtingen en over dat er steeds hoop kan zijn.Voor mij 5 sterren omdat dit boek niet onder 1 noemer te vatten valt, omdat de taal zo mooi en verzorgd is, omda [...]

    7. A Spell of Winter follows the lives of Cathy and Rob before, during and after World War I. Their mother abandons the family home when they are children and their father dies, leaving them to grow up in a decaying mansion cut off from the rest of the world. Their sense of isolation and dependency on each other mutates into incest. It is testament to the strength of Dunmore’s writing that she delivers truths about love and loss through the vehicle of such ingrained taboo. I didn’t merely belie [...]

    8. “It is winter, my season…. My winter excitement quickened each year with the approach of darkness. I wanted the thermometer to drop lower and lower until not even a trace of mercury showed against the figures. I wanted us to wake to a kingdom of ice where our breath would turn to icicles as it left our lips, and we would walk through tunnels of snow to the outhouses and find birds fallen dead from the air. I willed the snow to lie for ever, and I turned over and buried my head under the pill [...]

    9. The author's name seemed really familiar to me until I realised I'd been staring at her children's work for about a year by then, but I hadn't known she'd written books for adults, too.This book has incest in it, but if your only experience of incest is Virginia Andrews, then you're in for a shock because Helen Dunmore can write circles around her. (Also, it won the Orange Prize in 1996, so someone with literary power obviously thought it was good, too. :D) I cannot stress how amazingly beautifu [...]

    10. I read Helen Dunmore’s novel With Your Crooked Heart many years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. Dunmore’s prose is like poetry, every sentence a perfect balance between beauty and truth. Winner of the 1996 Orange Prize, A Spell of Winter is the fourth novel I’ve read by her, and I have also read her collection of short stories, Ice Cream.A Spell of Winter concerns the lives of Cathy and Rob, siblings who live in a crumbling manor house in England. Their guardian is their maternal gra [...]

    11. Return to Bronte CountryIf one of the Brontes had written a novel set a century later, would it have turned out like this? There is the same harsh northern landscape, the same tug of forbidden passions, family secrets similarly buried, and the familiar situation of the rich bachelor a distant figure on the neighboring estate. But the sexual frankness belongs to a much later period still, and there is also a modern sensibility in the heroine's path to self-realization, not through others but on h [...]

    12. This book almost got five stars from me. It's Flowers in the Attic with actual attention to developed writing style and a historical time period. Moreover, it's similar to The Mill on the Floss, one of my favorite period books. Eliot's work does not have overt incest (it was enough just to hint towards attraction during that time period), but the close connection of the isolated siblings, the jealousy of the suitors, the "dark" beauty in the pristine society of appearances who is othered (like M [...]

    13. Well, this book wasn't what I expected at all. I picked it because I saw it had won the Orange award, and went into it not knowing much else about it. The cover made me think I was in for a romance novel with heaving bosoms and complicated schemes to bring about unexpected and perhaps diasapproved but fortuitous marriage proposals. However, the beginning quickly disabused me of those notions, as it started with a description of a decaying body being carried clumsily down stairs, and moved on to [...]

    14. This is a strange, haunting story of forbidden love, abandoned families and loneliness.The novel is quite bleak in parts whilst still being readable. The main narrator is Catherine but she is unreliable, vague and at times, totally removed from what has really taken place. The weather plays quite a part - coldness and numbness, not just cold but without warmth anywhere, all greenery shrouded and subdued - this is Catherine's life. Yet she does not help herself to reach beyond the chill of her li [...]

    15. 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. But when that relationship begins to break down, Catherine alone must reconstruct the fragments of her life. A Spell of Winter is a dream of a book, disjointed, atmospheric, and cold. However effective that atmosphere, it deadens the intensity of relationships and characters's sufferings. The right elements are there: a complex and dis [...]

    16. Originally, I was drawn into Dunmore's writing style as it creates definite ambiance - think Jane Eyre. Then all of a sudden the story turns into VC Andrews meets romance pulp fiction. I checked myself, wondering if it was the taboo of incest that was causing my distress. Definitely not - it was the incongruity of this plot twist with the style. I mean, you feel like you're reading a tale written during the time period (pre-WWI), but if that were the case, you wouldn't get details on an illicit [...]

    17. I hated the ending of this story. Rob just flounces off to Canada for no particular reason, and then he comes back and goes off to the war and we never find out what happened to him? And then Cathy finally meets up with her mother again, but we never find out why the mother left in the first place?Ugh. I know the author is under no obligation to give her readers a happy ending, and I'm not sure how it could have happened in this case, but the story's resolution was just so disappointing and unsa [...]

    18. I'm a big fan of Helen Dunmore's writing and this book did not disappoint. I felt like I was inside the head of the main character, Cathy. I saw what she saw, felt what she felt. A Spell of Winter takes you back to a different time with different social rules. Although quite disturbing at times I thoroughly enjoyed it and did not want the story to end.

    19. Spellbinding. Gorgeous lyrical writing but also great characters you cared for. Not surprised it won Orange Prize all those years ago.

    20. De takken van de bomen tikken tegen de ruiten van het afgelegen landhuis waar Cathy woont, zonder ouders (taboes!), een strenge en koele grootvader, grootgebracht door personeel, en heeft een speciale relatie met haar broer. In dit verhaal heet hij Rob ipv Heathcliff en de Lintons worden vervangen door Livvy en Bullivant, die elk op hun manier voor de beschaving moeten zorgen. Kate is the woman in the attic en is de enige met gezond verstand, de mad man zit weggestopt in het sanatorium. Nog ande [...]

    21. Reason for reading:There were two Helen Dunmore books I wanted to read this year – The Siege, which I found to be a wonderful read, and this one, the winner of the inaugural Orange Prize in 1996. Very nice of The Book People to have put together a bundle of all ten of her books pre-The Betrayal for eight quid as well. I didn’t know quite what I was letting myself in for…About the book:Insanity, incest and a back yard abortion. Well that’s just part of it of course, but it does provide a [...]

    22. I read this book awhile ago but it fit so perfectly into my new "Gothic Nouveau" category that I couldn't quite resist writing a little something about it. Also, two weekends ago I attended a Lemonade Party that brought to mind the beautiful description of lemons, packed and foreign and sent from Italy, in this book. This book is often brought up in the same breath as other novels trying very hard to be Brontesque and I think that, with this work, the comparison is valid. 'A Spell of Winter' tak [...]

    23. A while back The Nation printed all of the Orange Prize winners, and I have read a few of them, and found that I either agreed wholeheartedly with the book winning the award, or I was befuddled because I REALLY did not like the story. A Spell of Winter falls somewhere in between. I waffled between three and four stars for this one: there are lines, whole passages, that are so beautifully written, I found myself rereading them, and the relationship between the narrator, Catherine, and her brother [...]

    24. This book is hard to like, but it's also hard not to like. Set in the years before WWI, it's the story of Catherine and her life as it happens around her. She lives with her grandfather in a big old house with her older brother Rob, her nanny, Kate, and a hated tutor named Miss Gallagher. Her mother has left the family in the beginning and no reason is really given but you get the feeling she didn't want to be a wife and mother anymore in the cold, dark house. Her father is in a sanatorium at th [...]

    25. I had a difficult time deciding how to rate this book. Dunmore writes beautifully and vividly. In the end though, that wasn't enough. The book is populated with isolated, ignorant, damaged, and mentally ill characters. There is more, but I don't want to include any spoilers. It was a depressing and claustrophobic read. I'm sure that was meant to echo the lives of the characters, but the small breakthrough at the end wasn't nearly enough to make up for the dismal trial of the first 300 pages. I f [...]

    26. I'll give this 3.5 stars. Yes, it was haunting and somewhat dark in it's mood, but it was also creepy. Not scary creepy, creepy weird. The characters have unnatural attachments and feelings, it was an interesting read.

    27. Great description at times (I could see and feel the horses, the sky, the landscape). The story was well written, though at times deeply disturbing. Recently, I read an extraordinary novel of a mother who abandons her children and the consequences from that. Is that all that's here? Am I just too cynical? The writing is extraordinary, but the story lacked for me. It felt so mixed and so I give a mixed rating and a mixed review.(view spoiler)[And so it ENDS."My mother stands facing me, waiting to [...]

    28. I had never heard of Helen Dunmore until I read her recent obituary and saw the heaps of praise she had received for her novels. I ordered two of her books, including this book, which had won the Orange Prize. In A Spell of WinterA Spell of Winter I entered a fictional locale familiar to me: a crumbling house in the English countryside before World War I, whose inhabitants are desperately trying to hold on to the last of their property and dignity. Young Catherine says her favorite season is win [...]

    29. This early novel by the author poet Helen Dunmore is a haunted story full of gothic elements written with a whispery deft touch, shot through with brilliantly lyrical language. Rob and Cathy are left abandoned in a large gothic house in the care of their grandfather when their mother departs and their father is institutionalised. Like the babes in the wood they become lost in the forest with only one another for comfort. Then the war comes and changes everything. As the novel progresses winter d [...]

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