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Archive Read > October A Spell of Winter

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message 1: by Penny (new)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

This book won our poll for the Archive read for October.
Looks great - let's hope we enjoy it!


message 2: by Penny (new)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Have started this one - going well so far!


message 3: by Val (new)

Val I have read this before, several years ago. I remember liking it at the time, but can't remember many details now.
There are a couple of other books I want to finish first and then I will read it again.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan I have also read this before, but need to re read it, as I have forgotten all but the essentials of the plot.


message 5: by Penny (new)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
the story plunges us into the middle of an incestuous relationship - quite controversial. yet it's very gripping!!

I am very much enjoying Dunmore's use of the landscape and weather - so much of it reflects the situation even if the characters cant see the 'coldness' of their position. This is my first Dunmore book - I will definitely read more - should be finished in the next few days.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan I love Helen Dunmore, especially her earlier novels. Very atmospheric and strong themes, but done with a deft and gentle touch.


message 7: by Cieranne (new)

Cieranne | 4 comments I didn't much fancy the September read after reading some of the comments but this book is right up my alley. ive started this and so far im really enjoying it. Dark and twisty timelines with a little bit of period drama thrown in :)


message 8: by Penny (new)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I have finished this and really enjoyed it - its very atmospheric and gloomy yet I was drawn right in. I didnt much care for a lot of the characters at first - usually when that happens I stop reading but that wasnt the case here. Why do you think Rob and Catherine did what they did?


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan I think Catherine and Rob felt abandoned - after the incident with their father, Rob felt protective. Ultimately, Catherine was innocent and naive but, as always, as the woman the consequences of their actions affected her more.


message 10: by Val (new)

Val They must have felt very alone, with both parents gone away and their grandfather uncommunicative, which made them closer than usual for siblings growing up. Rob then went away to school and their reunion led to a different kind of closeness.
We are not told exactly what Rob was thinking; we do know he was protective of his sister as Susan says.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan There were a lot of unspoken relationships going on in that house...


message 12: by Val (new)

Val There were!

What did you think of the governess? She seemed sinister at first, but then seemed more sad and lonely than anything else in the end.


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan Very creepy - especially the way she would never acknowledge Rob.


message 14: by Val (new)

Val She is creepy and her obsession with Catherine goes way beyond normal for a governess, but she is also a figure of fun and very easy to outwit.


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan Kate was an interesting character. Do you think she actually guessed what happened between Catherine and Rob? Do you think that is why she left him in Canada?


message 16: by Penny (new)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Kate was an interesting character. Do you think she actually guessed what happened between Catherine and Rob? Do you think that is why she left him in Canada?"

yes I thought she was an interesting character - unexplored largely in the text. I think she came across as astute and maybe if she hadnt fully guessed she was uncomfortable somehow with the house and its family. I wonder what happened when they left between them.


message 17: by Val (new)

Val I think she knew. She was intelligent and perceptive and knew everything else that was going on. I don't think it bothered her particularly, although I think it was a factor in her deciding to leave the house, which was getting very claustrophobic. I'm not sure she was ever really with Rob in any way that would last.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan I think Helen Dunmore captured that relationship so well - that Catherine saw Kate as an adult/ 'grown up' with all that implies. It was only as she grew older that she realised the age gap between them was not great.


message 19: by Cieranne (new)

Cieranne | 4 comments I'm not sure what I thought of the ending though. I was disappointed. The fact that she ended up with the man she was 'supposed' to be with and meeting the mother that was only present throughout due to her absence...it seems like the ending almost negates the rest of the book and everything that she's been through didn't count as she ended up almost back where she began.

What I did like though was the link between the crumbling of the house nd the gradual decay of Catherine's relationships and her mind to a certain extent. Dunmore had some beautifully descriptive passages.


message 20: by Val (new)

Val I had a slightly different take on that. She could not leave with the man she was 'supposed' to be with when she was wrapped up in the house and the complex family relationships, but she could once everyone was dead and she had had a period of mourning them, so it was good for her that he came back at the right time. It was a lot better than her sitting there in her dead brother's muddy greatcoat and only thinking of the past.
I agree with you about the decay of the house and her mind, both would have crumbled if she had not left.


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