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In Falling Snow

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,918 ratings  ·  429 reviews
A vivid and compelling story of love, war and secrets, set against the backdrop of WWI France. 'In the beginning, it was the summers I remembered - long warm days under the palest blue skies, the cornflowers and forget-me-nots lining the road through the Lys forest, the buzz of insects going about their work, Violet telling me lies.' Iris is getting old. A widow, her days ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Allen & Unwin (first published September 26th 2012)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,918 ratings  ·  429 reviews

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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Visit my blog for your chance to win a copy of this wonderful novel!

In 1914 Iris Crane, a young nurse from Brisbane, arrives in Paris on a mission from her father: find her fifteen-year-old brother, Tom, and bring him home before he gets killed. Instead, Iris finds herself enlisted by the incredibly charismatic Dr Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help her set up a new hospital run entirely by women at Royaumont, an old abandoned abbey north of Paris. Since the last word she'd heard from her
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

In this captivating novel, Australian author Mary-Rose MacColl moves between the past and the present, from Australia to war torn France to create a compelling story of love, loss, friendship, family and dreams.

When Iris Crane receives an invitation to a ceremony honouring les dames ecossais de Royaumont she is forced to confront the events of sixty years ago. At twenty one, Iris followed her younger brother to war in Europe, determined to bring him home, but instead remained in France to serve
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
4 1/2 Stars

Setting:WWI-Era-France and 1970's Australia

Australian born Iris Crane travels to France during WWI to find her 15 year old brother who has run away to enlist. But fate has a different path for her and instead Iris meets an English doctor and he agrees to help her operate a field hospital in an old French Abbey. And with this chance meeting this unexpected path holds both a sense of purpose and terrible pain. Years later, her peaceful life in Australia is disrupted by an unexpected let
Aug 17, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was OK, but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in it.

First the positives: This book has a lot of tragedy in it, and I thought the author dealt with the grief and sorrow of her characters as well as any author I've read. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with someone who has conveyed grieving better.

I also think the characters themselves were well-drawn and believable. I was particularly impressed with Iris Crane, who matured from a naïve girl to a grown woman during the course
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it

I struggled with this book by Mary-Rose MacColl, I almost threw in the towel..the start was soooo slow for me, I couldn't connect with Iris or Grace.

But I persisted and saw it to the end.... it did get better after about 100 pages in, and then the pace was far more consistent and the story was a lot more delightful to read. The ending of story doesn't sit well with me, all the ends were loosely tied up or throughout the story you became invested in those particulars story-lines only to not see t
Jul 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
I got this as an eARC, and the more I think about it, the less I like them. Here's the problem: 25% of the way through, I didn't really care about the characters. There was too much digression into the lives of Iris (both in WWI France and 1970s Australia) and Grace. I don't mind time-shifting, but my guess is that this was in many ways supposed to mimic Iris' memories flitting from one thing to the other, but the overall effect was just jumbled. If I'd had this as a print ARC, I could easily ha ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
A swing and a miss. Once again, I find myself in the position of reading a book that I think is quite good, but which did not work for me. As a reader, it seems like I go through strings of reads (all the good ones in a row, all the three stars, all the horrid ones), and it seems I’m in a phase of books that just are not right for me in particular. I’m sure that other readers will find plenty to charm them in In Falling Snow, but, for the most part, I was bored.

Read the full review at A Reader o
Tara Chevrestt
What a well-written story. It kept me on the edge of my seat and surprised me. I thought it went one way, but it went another. It honors the nurses of WWI while at the same time slowly unfolds a shocking secret. You really get to know the characters; you love them at times, hate them at others.

They feel so real.

In a nutshell: The backstory is WWI France. A group of Scottish and English nurses are opening a hospital. An Australian girl joins them. Her goal is really to collect her much-too-young
Kim Wilkins
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This novel is wonderfully measured and beautifully written. It follows a young woman named Iris who goes to Europe during world war one to find her brother, who has enlisted although he is too young. While there, she finds work at Royaumont, an abbey converted into a field hospital by an all-woman team of Scottish doctors and nurses (and a real place!)

The vivid descriptions of snowy France contrast beautifully with the setting of the framing narrative, 20th century Brisbane, where Iris, now an e
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was historical fiction set in WWI times. I haven't read as much WWI historical fiction as WWII, so this was nice to read something different. Even though this takes place during war time, it wasn't about that at all. It was about the people and the decisions they made to navigate this turbulent time.

The characters were well drawn. I liked them all too, especially Iris and Grace. They were the ones with a story to tell. I was pulled into their stories, but I will say, that this book was qui
Patti Biley
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this novel read for a book club. Taking place during WWI, the story concerns a young Australian nurse, Iris Crane, who travels to France to bring her young brother back after he enlists. She ends up staying and working at a Scottish hospital near the front lines at Royaumont Abbey, run by women. A parallel story focuses on Iris’s granddaughter Grace, a physician, and takes place sixty years later in Australia. I found the back and forth between the two stories not distracting but preferr ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I just received this is in the mail yesterday, courtesy of Penguin Canada & Goodreads giveaway! I will start to read this right away.


This is my first book I won from a Goodreads giveaway and I was excited to read it. I have always liked historical fiction since I was young, I was an avid reader of the Dear Canada series. I love books that show significant historical periods. So, since In Falling Snow was set during World War I, I was hoping it to be an enlightening read
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book! It has been in my library some time and I don't know how I could have overlooked what is, in my opinion, a masterpiece of story telling. Once again it is a story told in different time zones from 1914-18 war in France back to Australia in present day (actually a bit earlier) the Queensland cities of Stanthorpe and Brisbane. Beautifully written strong and compelling characters. Thank you Mary-Rose MacColl,I love your writing. I would recommend this book.
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written fictionalised account of the women who started a hospital in Royaumont Abbey in France during World War I. The story is told in parallel narrative, switching back and forth from wartime France to Brisbane in the 70s. The ageing Iris receives an invitation to attend a reunion at Royaumont and decides to go, even though some painful memories await her. Her adult grand-daughter Grace is dealing with her own problems and there's an interesting interplay between the two. ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
In Falling Snow follows two women, Iris and Grace, at different points in their professional and personal lives. Iris is an old woman, accepting the fact that she is dying. Grace is her granddaughter, attempting to balance life as a doctor while raising three kids.

As she reaches the end of her life, Iris begins to reflect on her years working as a nurse in a WWI hospital and on her younger brother, Tom, who ran off to join the army at only 15. As the story jumps between her reflections and pres
Dale Harcombe
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sometimes the timing of reading book can influence how we respond to it, I suspect. Just prior to reading this book I had read another book dealing with World War 2. I might add this person doesn’t read a lot of books that concern war, so perhaps this book suffered a little from war overload. I still gave it four stars as I enjoyed this reading the story of Iris. Again this is another story that shifts between times
It gives the current story set in the 1970s of the elderly widowed Iris and her g
Maree Kimberley
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2013
Loved this book! I devoured it in less than 24 hours (sometimes being confined to bed can have its upsides) and it just reeled me in and swept me away from the opening page.

Falling in Snow is a meticulously researched, gorgeously written novel set in two different worlds: a hospital run by women near Paris during WWI, and inner-city Brisbane in the late 1970s. At times it moved me to tears. MacColl's prose is intensely real. It's not what I'd term spare but just so matter of fact, so close to t
I've read quite a bit about WW1, but had never heard of this remarkable hospital, or the women who ran it, and have now just spent some time on the interwebz checking it out. And, without giving too much away, Tom's fate came as a shock, highlighting British army policy that I not given much thought to - brutal stuff and the figures cited were horrifying. I'm wondering if there isn't a book in this topic alone. All in all an absorbing read which opened up some new areas of interest for me. Bravo ...more
Gail Intas
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
MacColl had me at “pants puddled around their ankles” (page one). Much like seeing a five star movie – totally taken into the story and when emerging back into the light of reality – perceiving it altered. The last page turned and I was proud of women, more learned in history, heart-raw about war, ribboned by romance, conscious of consequences and outsmarted by the twist. A cleverly executed tale that sucked me into its non-stopping pages on an international flight. Bravo Mary-Rose MacColl!
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
The beauty in this book is that it links past and present, France and Australia within a web of history. Offering us a historical mystery and a nest of characters to compel you through the beautiful language, to enter into aspects of our involvement in war that are heart wrenching and so worthy of our attention. Thank you and so very well done Mary- Rose.
Charming Language
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
In Falling Snow tells the story of Iris Crane, an elderly widow who lives a quiet life in Brisbane, worrying more about her granddaughter, Grace, a headstrong doctor juggling work with children, than she does about herself. Iris is a mesmerising character from the get –go thanks to the tender authenticity of her narrative voice. It struck me immediately how rarely I read a novel voiced (in part) by an elderly woman. The ways in which MacColl renders her combination of naivety about aspects of th ...more
Apr 13, 2015 marked it as to-read

This novel takes you on a journey to the past in France and Australia during World War I, as you read from an Australian viewpoint.

Iris is a young Australian nurse who travels to World War I in France in hopes of returning home with her fifteen-year-old brother, who had run away to fight the war against his father’s wishes. During her journey to retrieve him, she comes across a young physician who convinces her to stay and lend a helping hand in the founding of an a
In Falling Snow is written as alternating accounts in 2 women’s lives - Grace, an ob/gynae surgeon working in a Brisbane hospital, and Iris, her grandmother who brought Grace up when her mother died in childbirth. Iris’ account is told in the present day (although the “present day” is set in the 1970s), and she also reflects on her time spent working as a nurse/admin assistant in an old abbey converted into a French hospital near the front in WWI. It made me think of the recent TV series on the ...more
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I feel like this author is trying very hard to be Kate Morton-y but doesn't quite make it...Though I liked the scenes set in the 1970s and cared about what happened to older Iris and her granddaughter then, the WWI part of the plot really unfolded at an agonizingly slow pace and the characters in those scenes were not developed enough for the end of the book to have the emotional impact it was clearly meant to. And since I primarily picked this up because I'm a historical fiction fan, I was incr ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sink into the story slowly, be patient. Even though the narrative is told from different perspectives and time shifts from WWI to 60 years later, it is one that draws you in (eventually). The author gives you a variable focus lens to see and understand relationships, hardships and emotions that are poignant and all too real. I'm glad i stuck with the read, and gave this book a chance to become more than just a love story. It quietly winds its way to a powerful conclusion, sad though it is.
Kate Forsyth
'In Falling Snow' is a rather quiet, thoughtful novel, moving between modern-day Brisbane and the Royamount abbey hospital in France during the First World War. I particularly enjoyed the historical sections, which brought the world of the women's hospital vividly to life.
Helen Goltz
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I just had the pleasure of meeting Mary-Rose at 4BC and just finished "In Falling Snow". A truly delightful book with engaging characters and a captivating story.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fabulous book, moving and tender. A wonderful story, one I won't soon forget.
Helen O'Toole
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written novel set in two distinct time periods: the First World War and Brisbane in around 1980 or close to that time; hard to estimate. I love novels that describe strong and capable women and Mary-Rose MacColl has created truly memorable characters whose experiences will stay with you long after the book is put away. The elderly Iris Hogan once left the safety of Australia to follow her headstrong 15 year brother Tom who had lied about his age and joined the British Army even tho ...more
This is a well-crafted book with cleverly braided points of view and time and space changes. The characters were very engaging. I will read other books by this author.

Note: I used to give full reviews for all of the books that I rated on GR. However, GR's new giveaway policies (Good Reads 2017 November Giveaways Policies Changes) have caused me to change my reviewing decisions. These new GR policies seem to harm smaller publishing efforts in favour of providing advantage to the larger companies
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Around the Year i...: In Falling Snow, by Mary Rose MacColl 1 11 Feb 25, 2017 03:23PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Oct 07, 2015 08:24AM  

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Mary-Rose MacColl is an Australian writer whose first novel, No Safe Place, was runner-up in the 1995 Australian Vogel literary award. Her first non-fiction book, The Birth Wars, was a finalist in the 2009 Walkley Awards. In Falling Snow (October 2012), Mary-Rose's fourth novel, tells the largely unknown story of a small group of Scottish women who ran a field hospital for France in World War I in ...more
“Life reaches a point where you no longer wish to dig about in the earth of the past to find what might have made you grow the way you have. Or how you might have been different.” 3 likes
“In the end, you have to do what's right. There's a higher good, always, to be found. You have to find it, that's all. And as doctors we have an even greater responsibility because we take part in important moments of so many lives. You can believe in a vengeful God. You can believe in medicine. It will all fall away. Truth runs under the world, a deep black seam of truth, and that's in the end what we seek, as doctors and as human beings.” 3 likes
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