From the early days of her childhood in the Yorkshire Dales, Nell Thorpe learnt through bitter experience that she shouldn't allow herself to become reliant on any man. So when she meets Gregory Nansen on a skiing holiday, she refuses, despite her growing love for him, to sacrifice her cherished independence; marriage and children are clearly out of the question. But gradually Nell begins to wonder if there might be room in her life for a firmer commitment and the kind of family fulfilment her quiet, home-loving cousin Chrissie enjoys. But for both Nell and Chrissie life follows a different course from the one they had planned, a course which for both involves change and pain but, ultimately, growth.
'Margaret Bacon has such intelligent writing sensitivity that the concept of reading fiction fades away into the feel of real drama. In "Snow in Winter" she blends the Yorskshire Dale childhood of Nell Thorpe to her academic liberated adulthood with pro per well-paced rhythm so that the memories of kitchen smells, farmyard chores and hilly walks become as meaningful to the reader as they are to Nell searching for the key to happiness in the halls of academe.
Nell, orphaned young, is brought up by the honest, hard-working Newboulds and, their Dale is her world until Aunt Thorpe, a dedicated headmistress, arrives
to induct her into the mysteries of "career", "travel" and "ambition".
The first half of the book is of Nell mostly at home, trying to reconcile boarding-school knowledge to Dale simpleness. The concluding part jumps two decades to Nell holidaying in the snow and meeting Gregory Nansen, possibly a great writer. As the pair explore their pasts and the chances of a joint future Margaret Bacon shows, with humour and insight, how we are all so much controlled by our histories, - however much we may shout out our existentialism.'
CAMPBELL SPRAY - YORKSHIRE POST
'Nell is a war babe; when the novel opens, her mother is dead and her idolised father away fighting for King and country. She has been left in the care of her aunt and uncle, farming folk, and grows up with their children, Chrissie and Derek. But it soon, becomes apparent that Nell is set apart, both by her parental straits (she's soon completely orphaned, Papa having declined from soldier hero to broken alcoholic) and by her intelligence. She is sent to boarding school, and from that point the narrative divides, delineating the parallel lives of the two women, two cousins, Chrissie the farmer's daughter now earth mother, and quirky Nell, libbing and learning. Women in love, indeed.
The novel made a strong emotional impact on me. I haven't read any of Margaret Bacon's other works of fiction, but Snow in Winter will entice me to them.'
'Snow in Winter is about the many faces of love: between parents and children, between families, between women and. men, between people and their roots. Few writers can convey the delights and terrors of childhood with such heart-rending sincerity. Margaret Bacon stands to rank with the top flight of women writers today'
'Margaret Bacon's understanding of her heroine is fascinatingly complete'
'She leads her own life, carves out her own career, chooses her own men, and refuses to consider marriage... And what happens to her? Read on - but be warned, it's a cautionary tale'