Catherine and Rob grow up on their grandfather's decaying English country estate at the beginning of the 20th century. Abandoned by their mother, and orphaned when their mentally ill father dies, the brother and sister turn to each other for love and solace. Because of the secrets in their family, the siblings close themselves off from the outside world and develop an unnaturally close relationship. However, a neighbor's attentions toward Catherine and the beginning of World War I create opportunities for her to see beyond the prison of her family's history.
Dark as the winter with the promise of spring, A Spell of Winter enthralls the reader with the depth of its characters and the beauty of its writing. Helen Dunmore's gothic story of isolation, obsession and disturbing love may appeal to fans of Wuthering Heights. A Spell of Winter won the first Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996, a literary award given to a novel written by a woman who has published in English.
Reviewed by ds, 1/02. Other reviews by ds.