Behind a selfless act of kindness lies dark intentions . . .
Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they’ve always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it…
The Winter Children by Lulu Taylor is a compelling, atmospheric novel which transported me forward and backwards in time, from present day Norfolk back to a 1950’s boarding school.
I don’t know exactly how to class this book. It had traits from various genres and included themes on family, relationships,mysteries and history, all told to the reader with a slight sense of unease which only grows as the novel advances and, overarching it all, secrets kept and revealed.
The characters were brilliantly crafted, and though you may dislike certain people for obvious reasons, you also feel that there are other sides to them and perhaps some, even if it seems ridiculous, reasons behind their decisions. This makes them seem all the more like real people.
The synopsis doesn’t give much away so I’m determined to also do the same, as I felt that going into the novel relatively unaware of what exactly it was about only added to my enjoyment. The reader is given additional snippets of information as the novel went on about both the present day and older narrative, and I found myself completely absorbed in the story, which not only entertained me but also made me think about what constitutes ‘helping’ someone and the lengths someone will go to to have a child, or perhaps just to make their partner happy. Not everything is clear cut, though a lot of Francesca as a character’s decisions seem that way, and the author prompts the reader to really consider what acts are truly selfless… and which can ruin a lift forever.
I would highly recommend The Winter Children as an absorbing, intriguing and at times quite haunting read, which is never rushed but moves along at just the right pace to pique your interest, and leaves wanting to read more and more!
Many thanks to the publisher & Mumsnet Book Club for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review