A Spell of Winter is a gothic novel by Helen Dunmore, set in England, around the time of World War I. The novel was the first recipient of the Orange Prize. A Spell of Winter: A Novel [Helen Dunmore] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The inaugural winner of England’s prestigious Orange Prize, . “Not many novels grab the reader’s lapels with the opening sentence, but Helen Dunmore’s A Spell of Winter is surely one We plunge.

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The book is full of deep psychological twists, love and hatred, devotion, trying to find’s one self, incest, murder and always the lingering feel of cold. Themes included in the novel that some people might find distasteful: But at the aa time, it’s just the same as adult fiction in terms of the emotions.

A Spell of Winter

The story was well written, though winted times deeply disturbing. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore. My heart made my blood hiss in my ears. That’s something from which working in several forms releases you. 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 see the long corridors where I ran as a child with Kate’s stories flapping at my heels.

It is only when people start leaving that the remaining people in the house start to become aware of the outside world in the form of the war. A house dies as quickly as a body” And I wondered, was this true?

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

I’m predisposed to love half a dozen tropes in A Spell of Winterbut to my surprise the book did nothing for me. It takes off the pressure. 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.

There are aspects of this story I would have liked to have understood more – the relationship of brother and sister and its evolution, the evil Miss Gallagher, the enigmatic servant Kate, these are all there but we are not told fully how they all arrive in the ‘present’ of the novel.

There is more, but I don’t want to include any spoilers. In The Siege and The Betrayalboth Anna and Andrei are professionally involved with children, but much of The Betrayal focuses on their want of, and desire for, a child of their own. Like a person, the house demands energy and devotion from the inhabitants and, in return, it gives them the ability to live as if nothing has changed: Her stream of consciousness reveals that, like an animal, she lacks the ability to reason effectively.


Dec 17, Anneliese Tirry rated it it was amazing. This is a most enjoyable book, if not an especially deep one, a sort of Bronte meets Lawrence meets McEwan. Return to Book Page. The characters themselves, though, are not finely drawn and I had trouble distinguishing them or picturing them clearly in my mind.

A Spell of Winter concerns the lives of Cathy and Rob, siblings who live in a crumbling manor house in England. I mean, you feel like you’re reading a tale written during the time period pre-WWIbut if that were the case, you wouldn’t get details on an illicit love affair like this and it’s not even enough to make it erotica. The frontiers of the characters’ lives were pulled back and back: Her loneliness and her dark search for love lead her to a place which threatens her, and only the coming war seems to break the spell.

I also completed two novels; fortunately neither survives, and it was more than ten years before I wrote another novel. The right elements are there: We see events through the eyes o This haunting and evocative novel was the first Orange Prize Winner and set a high standard for future hopefuls.

BBC – Radio 4 – Woman’s Hour -A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

You gotta have a long attention span for this one and a good eye for detail, both of which I can have when I’m suitably interested, but this one just didn’t do it for me. You find yourself wanting the incestuous relationship to be a success, but all the while knowing that there is no way that it can be. I’ve noticed, in the course of a writing life, that sometimes it’s better to wait than to force the issue.

Like an animal, Cathy acts on biological instincts that the Victorians attempted to suppress but still controlled them as well: It’s a very deep form of play. At times the poetry of the book almost seems too intense. It felt so mixed and so I give a mixed rating and a mixed review. You have to be willing to go with the story and immerse yourself in it, but, if you do, the writing is rich and rewarding. And the ending was simultaneously too convenient and ambiguous for my taste, and totally out of place compared to the rest of the novel.


This idea that people must be producing all the time can be a terrible burden. Eventually, the real world seeps in in ways both expected and unexpected.

This was another researched novel, which grew from a lifelong love of Russian history, culture and literature. D I cannot stress how amazingly beautiful the writing is – I was disgustingly jealous of it more than once while I was reading – and it’s so good that you begin to actually forget all about the incest and focus on how doomed this family is by the mistakes that seem to repeat themselves over and over again.

Not surprised it won Orange Prize all those years ago.

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 pages. In A Spell of Winterthe impossibility of a baby lies at the shadowy centre of a skewed sibling relationship. The writing is extraordinary, but the story lacked for me. 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.

I am reviewing this after Goodreads recommend I read it – just shows how spot on they are at assessing your reading tastes because I think you will see from this review, I loved this one. Of the powerful symbolism in the book, I was most struck by the moving boundary between what is natural and what is man-made. Rob and Catherine live in virtual isolation in the crumbling old house belonging to their grandfather. Lawrence creating a garden, growing things like salsify, getting in tons of manure.

Refresh and try again. Andrei, a paediatrician, lives with his teacher-wife Anna Dunmore herself trained as a teacher and Anna’s younger brother, Kolya — the five-year-old of The Siegenow a bumptious teenager.

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. Books by Helen Dunmore.