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When Nights Were Cold

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  318 ratings  ·  70 reviews
As Queen Victoria's reign reaches its end, Grace Farringdon dreams of polar explorations and of escape from her stifling home with her protective parents and eccentric, agoraphobic sister. But when Grace secretly applies to Candlin, a women's college filled with intelligent women, she finally feels her ambitions beginning to take shape.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published March 2nd 2012 by Macmillan, Mantle (first published March 1st 2012)
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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  318 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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As the Second World War approaches, Grace Farringdon, a lonely and reclusive woman, is sheltering from the world in what was once her family home in Dulwich - now inhabited by Grace and a pair of eccentric lodgers. Estranged from her sister and seemingly without friends, she is haunted by memories of the past, and we soon discover she is a figure of such notoriety that a journalist may be trying to break into her house. She also reveals that she is the only survivor of 'the Society', following w ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I was intrigued by the idea of a novel about Edwardian lady mountaineers, and I was even more intrigued when I placed the name of the author. Because I recalled that Susanna Jones specialises in dark storytelling, unreliable narrators, and psychological drama.

I hoped that When Nights Were Cold would be something rather special, and it very nearly was.

When Grace Farringdon was growing up, she and her father followed the polar explorations of Ernest Shackleton and his contemporaries, studying ever
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent novel about the life of Grace Farringdon, a young woman in the early 1900's who wants to leave her stifled life. Eventually she gets to Candlin College, where she meets Leonora Locke, Cicely Parr and Winifred Hooper and starts the Antartic Exploration Society. Looking back on how she is the only surviving member, Grace tells her story and evokes the restrictions on women with great atmosphere. Loved it.
Always Pink
Jul 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Hell, did this book make me angry! I felt cheated by this one. Probably because I expected something totally different? This is basically just yet another novel about a Victorian heroine being straight-laced by strict parents, and as a result unable to fulfill her dreams, wasting her life dreaming and slowly going mad... A Guardian quote promised "a gripping psychological thriller", which totally led me unto the wrong track. The plot sounded promising, with its Shackleton/arctic exploration angl ...more
Janette Fleming
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
From Shade Point

Hours have passed and I am shivering. I could sit down here until I freeze, let frost be my skin and let icicles hang from my chin, let glaciers creep through London and crush my house. It is how I have lived these fifteen years.

Since her superb debut novel The Earthquake Bird, Susanna Jones has been crafting a place as one of this country's most impressive writers. She excels in dark, psychological mystery. Not procedural mystery, with detectives and so on, but the kind of shar
Grace Farringdon has always been obsessed with polar exploration and diligently follows the exploits of Scott and Shackleton. When she enrolls at Candlin College she sets up a Ladies’ Polar Exploration society, joined by her friend Leonora Locke, an aspiring playwright and suffragist; Winifred Hooper, a budding botanist; and Cicely Parr, an irascible mountaineer whose parents died in a climbing accident but who continues to climb with her intrepid aunt and uncle.

Disaster strikes during an expedi
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review also seen on: http://nothingbetterthanagoodbook.blo...

Grace Farringdon has always been mesmerized and fascinated with the great explorers and often daydreams that she could one day accompany Shackleton on a voyage to Antarctica. Grace decides that she will attend university against the wishes of her family and the expectations of society. There she meets like-minded women and forms an Antarctica Exploration Society. Soon play acting is not enough and they begin to embark on a life changin
Hilary Atkins
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have never read anything by this author before and was not encouraged by the cover saying "a gripping psychological thriller". However, I didn't feel this book was a psychological thriller and it certainly wasn't gripping for me.

On the positive side, the book covered some potentially very interesting topics and had any of these areas (as described by previous reviewers) been developed I probably would have enjoyed the book. However they were not and the tantalising glimpses before the author c
Amy Durreson
Jan 14, 2016 added it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this one, albeit with a shudder of relief that I live here and now. From the start of the book, the reader is made aware that the reclusive narrator is notorious for some reason, and the narrative flickers back and forth between her present and her childhood and more adventurous early adulthood. My favourite part of the book was the account of Grace's escape to an early women's college and her friendships with three other students with an interest in the Antarctic. Their small rebellio ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
'We could all go mad in the mountains together.'

I love walking in the fells of the English Lake District, and in Snowdonia, and have done since I was a young girl. This book really appealed to me, telling as it does the story of four young women who grasped at their freedom and embarked on daring mountaineering excursions, with dramatic, tragic consequences. For me it lived up to its promise.

Grace Farringdon is a young woman in the early 1900's who is determined to escape a life of marriage and
The novel is told in flashback by Grace Faringdon, the surviving member of the mountain climbing and Antarctic exploration society she formed at University.

There were originally four members of the group, the fate of the other three is gradually revealed to the reader through the narrative.

The flashback accounts date back to the years immediately preceding WW1, but are told from many years later (around 1940). Grace is, by then, living alone - a recluse - in her old family home. She is an extrem
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
A short novel set in Edwardian England in the years approaching the First World War, this follows the exploits of Grace Farringdon and a small group of like-minded friends at a ladies’ college whose interest in following the expeditions of the last great explorers becomes an expedition society of their own.

I should confess that one reason I read this was for the fact that the college featured was partly based on Royal Holloway, my old alma mater. There were a couple of references that made me s
Right from the start, Susanna Jones struggles with the voice of her first-person narrator. Grace Farringdon feels awkward and self conscious, not because she is, but because the author doesn't know her and can't portray her. There is something quite inauthentic about Farringdon's voice throughout part one as she recounts her home life and university. Something changes into part two though, and the second half of the book is much better. It's not that the writing improves dramatically, more that ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grace Farringdon is a young woman fighting against her family and her Edwardian destiny to marry or stay at home caring for her strict parents. Grace harbours an obsession by the prospect of becoming a female mountaineer and so alongside 3 unlikely friends from university, she sets up the Arctic Exploration Society. We learn from the outset of the book that Grace is the only ‘surviving’ member of the society and what follows is an incredibly well written and believable account of single-white-le ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Susanna Jones has always ranked highly with me being that 'The Earthquake Bird' is one of my all time favourite reads but I couldn't help feeling a wee bit deflated by what promised to be an excellent novel. The central premise of the story of four women forging themselves into a characteristically male pursuit of mountaineering did initially peak my interest but I found them all rather dislikeable and had very little empathy with any of the deceased or our storyteller Grace. The mysterious myst ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine wants to be a concert pianist, Grace wants to be a polar explorer, their parents want them both to stay home. Grace is the more determined and does manage to leave home and attend a ladies college, where she meets other determined women, including a climber.
The story is narrated by Grace some years later and living in the family home. We know there has been some disaster in the past which haunts her and one comes half way through the book.
At first Grace's real life and her fantasies ab
A gripping psychological thriller the guardian claims in bold on the front cover - not sure I agree!

There were parts of the story I liked. The way that Grace was wrong enough to try to follow her dreams, starting with university in a world where girls were expected to grow up, learn how to look after the house and get married. Setting up a club and going out with other strong minded young ladies to climb mountains. The way Grace was portrayed Had me guessing if she was in fact losing her mind or
Andy Weston
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Extremely enjoyable novel weaving together several issues of the early 1900's, from gender in society, to the Great War, and exploration (Shackleton, Scott, the Matterhorn tragedy and our own hills in England).
It's a great mix for a novel and easy to mess up, but Susanna Jones pulls it off very well, even managing to keep the reader guessing until the end.

Include Snowdonia and my key areas are all covered. It still needs to be written well and to succeed with a strong storyline as well is a re
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favourites
To me, 'When Nights Were Cold' was a thrilling read about young women at the beginning of the twentieth century with highly unusual ambitions for their time, namely climbing some of the highest mountains known all by themselves.
But the book goes miles beyond the accounts of in times fatal mountaineering expeditions and also tells a story of friendships and betrayal and madness and most of all, in my mind, of simply not finding one's place in the society one is born in.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Explores the thin line between fantasy and paranoia
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
This book left me confused as I was left wondering what was real and what was imagined.
I had hoped for more from this.......
Rachel Nowakowski
Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Pretty unusual. The subject matter was very interesting and I enjoyed the way the story developed. It was a very sad story.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
When Nights Were Cold is a book by Susanna Jones Published
01/03/2012 by Mantle.

I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of this book prior to publication to read and review. It might sound a bit strange but I was excited to be reading this book, this is the first book I have had prior to publication so it felt a little special to me.
The story is told by Grace Farringdon, a young lady who dreams of an Antarctic exploration and following the footsteps of her hero Ernest Shackleton. She can think
Clare Walker
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book, I flew through it in half a day. I love Susanna Jones.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well I tried! I found it very confusing with toing and froing in time plus going back to living at home and at college.....didnt know where I was so gave up in the end.....
Feb 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Boring. Read first third, skimmed rest. Unbelievable characters. Tiresome heroine.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Every so often, it’s rather nice to get away from the publication deadlines and the pursuit of the latest releases, and to read a book because someone said “I really enjoyed it”. OK, so that someone was Sophie Orme at Mantle, Pan Macmillan, and she might not be entirely impartial – When Nights Were Cold was published by Mantle in March 2012 - but there was something about this book that drew me in, firstly from the description, then from the moment I started to read.

It’s a fascinating story, on
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A while ago I read How To Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt, and before that I had read a few books about explorers and mountineers - particularly Scott, Amundsun and Franklin. My interest in those explorers was partly awakened by my reading of the Swallows and Amazon series as a child. So when I saw this novel on offer for Kindle I felt I must give it a try.

And it gripped me from the very first page. It's the story of Grace Farringdon and her desire to climb the Matterhorn. The basic story jumps from
seanat (elka)
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012

Nothing like reading about Arctic explorations and snowbound mountains from the comfort of your own centrally heated living room :)

Grace Farringdon is a young woman fighting against her destiny pre-determined by society and her gender. Rather than marry well or stay at home and care for her parents, Grace is obsessed by the exploits of Scott and Shackleton and is determined to study at university and become an Arctic explorer. Grace fights against these limits to live her dream and along with 3
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 28, 2015 08:55AM  

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"Susanna Jones was born in Hull in 1967 and grew up in Hornsea in East Yorkshire. She studied drama at Royal Holloway, University of London and then spent several years abroad, including two years in Turkey and five years in Japan. She taught English in secondary schools, language schools, a steel corporation and worked as an assistant editor and presenter for NHK Radio.

In 1996 she studied for an