disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
October 2021 saw the release of A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford, it really is a beautiful novel and one I became totally engrossed in at the end of last year.
In A Woman Made of Snow, it’s 1949 and we meet Caroline (Caro)and Alasdair Gillan, who have recently married and moved back to his childhood home in Scotland. Not just any old home though, Alasdair grew up on a family estate of Kelly Castle, in the middle of nowhere, and it’s one that’s seen better days.
They are new parents to Felicity and are living cheek by jowl with Alasdair’s indomitable mother, Martha who often interferes with her help and advice. Caro had been an independent woman and she’s struggling a little to adjust to her new life.
Kelly Castle is in a state of disrepair and the family are looking at ideas to make it an interesting and viable prospect for potential buyers. Using her skills, Caroline is asked to do some research into its history but she also wants to uncover the identity of the wife of Oliver, one of Alasdair’s ancestors, who appears to have been removed from the family history. A flood then uncovers human remains within the grounds, could this be the woman with no name?
A Woman Made of Snow then flips between 1949 and back to the Gillan family living in the 1870s. The story is so beautifully written and the characters really do come to life as we meet orphan sisters Charlotte and Louisa who spend their summers with Oliver Gillan and his family. His mother doesn’t approve of the girls and their standing in society, but Oliver is smitten by Louisa, whilst her sister only has eyes for him. When Oliver realises that his feelings are not reciprocated he decides in a moment of haste, to join a whaling ship as the ship’s doctor on a trip into the Arctic.
Oliver meets an Inuit woman who changes everything for him, but how will his mother react when he brings home a new wife?
There are so many twists and turns in this novel, and it’s a totally compelling and at times, heartbreaking read. I loved the way the story moved between the two eras and seeing how the characters developed as the plot unfolded. It’s interesting to see the differences in the role of women in society in each time period, and how prejudices changed over the years.
I couldn’t put this book down and have no hesitation in recommending it. It is definitely one of those novels that stays with you for quite some time after you’ve read the final page.
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