“[Dunmore] beautifully captures paranoia, how it feels to wonder if people smell guilt on your skin andmost powerfullyhow you can rationalize an act until you convince yourself it never even happened. . . . [A] Gothic wonder of a novel.”Salon
A Spell of Winter
978-0-8021-3876-7 • $13.00 • Paperback • Jan. 2002
Helen Dunmore’s most celebrated work is a compelling turn-of-the-century tale of innocence corrupted by secrecy, and the grace of second chances.
Catherine and her brother, Rob, do not know why they have been abandoned by their parents. In the house of their grandfather, “the man from nowhere,” they forge a passionate refuge for themselves against the terror of family secrets, and while the world outside moves to the brink of war, their sibling love becomes fraught with dangers. But as Catherine fights free of the past, the spell of winter that has held her in its grasp begins to break. The novel’s rich imagery moves between the stark, harsh winter world that Catherine loves and the summers she loathes, when the air is thick with the scent of roses and painful memories. Through decades of changing seasons, the two siblings mature within an enclosed world, surrounded by servants who guard the mysteries of their heritage. First Rob and later Catherine will dare to break through the wall that encircles their perversely stifled lives to move toward heartbreaking but final release.
Dunmore’s hypnotic, affecting prose is filled with unexpected tenderness and moments of beauty as she expertly evokes a melancholy era with a wholly original keenness. A Spell of Winter recasts the Gothic pastoral novel with breathtaking contemporary insight, exploring the moral complexities of human choice and action.