Book review – A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

A Spell of Winter coverWritten with a vividness that speaks of the poetry behind the prose, A Spell of Winter invites us into a private world mostly inhabited by just one person, Cathy.

Helen Dunmore’s writing is rippled through with a quiet, observant power, travelling backwards and forwards in the space of Cathy’s lifetime, and bearing witness to her preoccupations and passions.

Less dainty than the village girls she mingles with, Cathy’s life seems to be made up of one long frozen winter deep in the countryside, where she plays games with her brother that are at once innocent and brutal, before growing up to cross boundaries into one of the few surviving taboos.

A hare is slaughtered, and later an unfortunate death occurs where the hare was buried. In one remarkable chapter we travel with Cathy and Rob to the infirmary where their father languishes – it’s a tale so filled with layers of emotional truth that I almost craved for it to be a lone short story, so perfect and self-contained and complete did it seem. Continue reading