I became aware of Carol Lovekin’s last novel Ghostbird when it was on the top reads list of several of my favourite bloggers. I was really flattered then when the author contacted me earlier this year to ask if I’d be willing to read her latest book. And I am so glad she did as it is just wonderful. So first of all, what’s the book about:
Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.
Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations, until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.
Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…
Now I have to confess that as I’m writing this I haven’t quite finished the book (I’m very nearly there!) but I wouldn’t be telling you about the ending anyway. What I can talk about is the beautiful, poetic language which Carol Lovekin uses throughout the book. She creates such an ethereal atmosphere as she describes Gull Hall, very much a character in itself. The chill in the rooms, the birds wheeling and screeching overhead, the mists in the garden, all were so easy to picture and added to the haunting undertones.
The relationships between the female characters is especially well described. None of the mothers come out particularly well in this book with Allegra notably coming across as really uncaring toward Verity. It exasperated me the way she so clearly favoured Meredith over Verity and poor Verity was so aware of this too. Angharad’s mother could not have been less supportive if she tried.
The other thing to mention about Snow Sisters is the sense of mystery throughout, mystery upon mystery in fact. There are three timelines in the story: Angharad’s story in the past, Verity and Meredith in their teenage years and a present day story too. Carol Lovekin blends these expertly as she reveals gradually what happened to Angharad in the past with her voice and angst coming through clearly. In the present day, there is the mystery of what has happened between the sisters as they haven’t seen each other for so many years. And then there is the central mystery from Meridith and Verity’s youth. Has Meredith really released the spirit of Angharad and can Angharad really be trying to communicate what happened all those years ago?
Snow Sisters is a wonderful book which I am thoroughly enjoying. It is beautifully written and very compelling. The different storylines blend mystery and magic with truly beautiful writing. This is an enchanting read showing the author has a really talent for combining absorbing storytelling with lyrical writing.
My thanks to Helena at publishers Honno for my review copy of the book. Snow Sisters was published in paperback and as an e-book on 21st September. You can order copy online here: Snow Sisters
Carol is a writer, feminist and flâneuse. Her home is in beautiful West Wales, a place whose legends and landscape inform her writing. She writes contemporary fiction threaded with elements of magic.
GHOSTBIRD, her first novel, was released on 17th March 2016 by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press. The book was chosen as Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops ‘Book Of The Month’ for April 2016. It was longlisted for the Guardian ‘Not the Booker’ prize 2016 and nominated for the Guardian Readers’ Book of the Year 2016.
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