A Spell of Winter Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Spell of Winter

Robert (Rob) and Catherine (Cathy) Allen have grown up in their grandfather's house in rural England in the early 1900's. Their father has been committed to an asylum and it has been years since anyone heard from their mother Cynthia who ran off to live in France along the coast of Brittany. The dysfunctional lives of the two young Allen's never heal from the scars of abandonment inflicted by their mother. The Allen house is old and decaying along with the tragic legacy of their family's tormented past. Cathy, young and beautiful at seventeen, is regularly having sexual relations with her brother Rob even while being courted by a wealthy middle aged neighbor named George Bullivant at his manor home Ash Court. The local spinster Miss Gallagher who was Cathy's tutor shows an unnatural attraction towards Cathy as well. Rob is halfheartedly courting Livvy, a pretty but frigid young woman.
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Cathy becomes pregnant but only the long time family maid Kate knows. Rob suffers a serious injury to his leg while out riding the beautiful horse owned by Mr. Bullivant. Believing Miss Gallagher to be the cause of her unborn childs death, Cathy decides to rid herself of the bitter and petty affections of the old woman walking with her deep into the forest under the pretense of digging up plants. She threatens the older woman but never lands the shovel on its intended mark. Miss Gallagher's heart gives out and she collapses in the snow. Rob runs off along with Kate, first to Ireland then Canada. Cathy must carry on during wartime with little means to support the small household. Rob returns home but will be heading for France to fight in the war. Her grandfather's health eventually fails and Cathy must decide what to do with her young life.
The review of this Book prepared by David Fletcher

Chapter Analysis of A Spell of Winter

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Father (or standin) Kind of sex:    -   incest    -   abortion Age group of kid(s) in story:    -   high school Something wrong upstairs/downstairs?    -   mental illness Parents/lack of parents problem?    -   Momma gone Loving/sexing?    -   bun/oven Taboo sex story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British Unusual characteristics:    -   Mentally ill


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK    -   France Forest?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   farm    -   lot of descript of animal care Misc setting    -   moving train

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   impregnation/reproduction Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Helen Dunmore Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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