Friday, 12 June 2015

The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Land Beyond Goodbye and Don’t Look Down (

What We Thought: I’m going to start this review with the dreaded words ‘I don’t normally read this type of book’; it was given to me so I picked it up and gave it a go – and I have to admit I’m glad I did. I started reading with a whole raft of prejudices (love story, women’s novel, not literary etc etc) but soon started to enjoy it.

The writing is perfectly acceptable without being sparkling or outstanding in any way and to my mind a little more editing wouldn’t have gone amiss but what I really liked about this is that the author, Lulu Taylor, has excellent storytelling skills. I was soon drawn in to it – almost against my will.

This is the story of two women fifty years apart and a family property called December House. The present day part is about Emily, whose husband Will has invested foolishly and through greed has lost everything they have. Emily’s well-to-do London life comes crashing down.

The tormented Will soon ends up in a coma, though, conveniently getting rid of him so we can follow Emily’s adventures in her new life. A total stranger has left her a property in Cumbria – December House – and Emily (who must be down to her last £50,000 or so and therefore in dire straits) takes her two children up there to start anew. Once there she meets a local farmer to whom she is strangely attracted even though he is not her type at all. She also attempts to uncover the mystery of why she has been left December House.

The other, interwoven part, is set in 1962. Cressida is also well off but her mother is dying and her father is so strict she almost has no life of her own (despite an odd foray into voluntary teaching). When Father suggests she get a portrait painted, she is at first reluctant. After the initial sitting, however, she is hooked. The handsome painter, Ralph and his wife Catherine fascinate her. This pair exist in a kind of genteel poverty – the kind that allows them to live in a charming little flat and drink champagne in the delightful garden.

Naturally Cressida falls for Ralph and he seems to have fallen for her. When her mother dies, Cressie inherits December House and heads to Cumberland to escape both her father and the artist’s irate wife.

I realise I am injecting a somewhat facetious note into this review but that’s simply because I enjoyed it very much despite its rose tinted view of life when the chips are down.

There are some great moments of tension at December House, in both parts of the book, and I found myself reading late into the night to find out what would happen next. The weakest part of the novel, for me, was the explanation of the mystery. I won’t give it away but I felt that there needed to be a much more powerful reason for the subterfuge. However, this did not stop me fully enjoying The Snow Angel – even if part of that enjoyment involved thinking up even nastier reasons for the cover up.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Unchallenging mysteries with a bit of romance and a lot of escapism.

Avoid if you dislike: Books where most of the men are damaged in some way.

Ideal accompaniments
: Cosying up in bed with a cup of hot chocolate – maybe with a dash of brandy added.

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Women’s Fiction.

Available from Amazon

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