Monday, 10 March 2014

Book review: The Winter Folly, by Lulu Taylor

What a Monday. I've got Mumps! Mumpy Monday. I'm on house arrest - but I am alright to go riding, as I checked with the doctor. She said the fresh air will probably be good for me. Yes!

Anyway. Here's a book review. Lord knows I'll be reading a lot this week...

The Winter Folly

The novel is written in the third person from the perspective of Delilah, the new wife of John Stirling (owner of Fort Stirling), and Alexandra, the wife of Nicky Stirling (owner of Fort Stirling in the 60s). The chapters take place in both the present day and the 60s - this allows the reader to witness how events of the past affect the present tenants of the formidable house. 

The Winter Folly had the potential to be excellent. The plot was tragic and unpredictable, with some genuinely shocking revelations. Taylor’s strength was her ability to make important facts seem trivial until the right moment came to reveal their significance, and she raises interesting questions about how a house can come to own and trap it's inhabitants.

However, the pace was often interminably slow because of the overly descriptive prose, and I found myself flicking ahead to see if anything interesting was coming up. I skim-read over the endless paragraphs of feelings and confused emotions, and had to have day-long breaks from reading as I got bored... I truly believe about 100 pages could have been edited out.

The characters themselves, typically of women’s fiction, were fairly simplistic: troubled, brooding husband, worried wife trying to understand him, attractive gardener, flamboyant London friends and friendly American tourists. Delilah and Alexandra were fairly typical, tortured heroines - I felt Taylor could have created a stronger relationship between the two, as they both experience the suffocating feeling that Fort Stirling invokes.

I would tentatively recommend this book because the plot is actually very good. While many writers of women's fiction tend to wrap everything up perfectly at the end, Taylor does not resolve every conflict; Delilah and John fix their relationship but still can't conceive. The final couple of pages were the most touching. 


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