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For my birthday, my Mum decided the best route to take was to buy a selection of books for me, this is normally the best bet as I will literally read any book written on any subject, though am afraid the one I will now review for you seems to be more style over substance for me.
The book in question is - " The winter ghosts by Kate Mosse".
It's 1928 and Freddie Watson has now been grieving the loss of his older brother George for nearly 10 years.
After finally succumbing to his grief and being institutionalised for a few months, he decided the only way to go was to wander across the word, never really connecting with others, but more observing from afar.
After driving to France and stupidly taking the chance to drive through the French Pyrenees in a very fast descending snowstorm, he thinks he has gone mad due to him being able to hear voices, though this is soon quashed when his car spins out of control and he has to dump and run.
He stumbles across an isolated little village that gives him refuge and offers to rescue his car, but he soon meets a beautiful young woman called Fabrissa who manages to touch his frozen heart for the first time in many years, though after spending a wonderful night with her as day comes she disappears and he finds that he holds the key to an 700 year old secret, one that will lead to a cave filled with horrors......
I have to say after reading the blurb on the back of the book I was initially very excited as this sounded really interesting to read, and hopefully not too predictable, which I am afraid was neither really!
The book starts with a desperately unhappy and grieving man, who has not only lost his older brother in the tragedy of war, but also has to live with the knowledge that his parents see him as the lesser son, so he also has regrets that it wasn't him that died.
The fact that his brother George was his only shining star in the family, the only one to love and protect him is the striking blow, the emotion of the grief the character feels is really well written, with the desolation and the inability to connect to others, whether through fear of more loss or whether through inability of emotion, the character seems believable.
As the book is set in the wilderness of France I did find a real problem with the constant French phrases used, as obviously the character had to converse with any characters he came into contact with there, the author did write translations straight after so thicko's like myself could keep up with the story flow, but to me I felt this distracted me somewhat from the storyline.
There is a small chapter or two at the books start that incorporates Freddie's grief, but also one that demonstrates how he is after the event has happened, including a small artefact he managed to recover from said situation, this was the drawing point for me, I was desperate to find out what this document meant, though after the big scene at the beginning of the book about it, it was actually made to feel quite flat when it is actually revealed at the end of the book.
This book is the title's namesake, so I was hopeful that there would be at least a little horror, though when the subject arises neither the reader or the character actually realises the scene and characters are no more than a memory stain in time, he relives a festival that has been taking place for hundreds of years, in honour of the dead, of which he is invited to on his arrival to the guesthouse e stays in after his car crash, though the one he attends ends up being the original one that the characters now celebrate in memorial.
The final scene seems quite insipid after the build up, though I suppose it could have been worse, with the final scene never coming (I have read books before like that, this would have been burned if that had happened! Lol!), with the final scene that explains the whole book neither being confirmed or denied as ghostly happenings or fever induced hallucinations, either way I felt a real sense of anti climax to the proceedings.
The book is written from the third person perspective and aside from the constant language differences I found this book easy enough to read, though really that exciting in places. The book however is incredibly atmospheric so from that point of view would definitely appeal to readers in search of that kind of read.
Price wise this is currently on sale as part of a "2 for £7.00" deal being run in Asda.
For more information on the author visit - www.katemosse.co.uk.
As much as I wanted to enjoy this book I really felt it was a letdown in many respects, so can only award this a couple of stars, one for readability (aside from the French!), and one for the emotion of the character, both of which made the book readable.
Thanks for reading x
If you like a bit of an old fashioned spook then Winter Ghosts is a perfect read. It is pretty short so you should be able to read it in a couple of sittings. Make sure those sittings on on a cold night with the curtains drawn and the fire stoked.
The novel is set in the post World War 1 era and has a very old fashioned charm about it. It is the kind of story you could imagine the BBC producing as a period Christmas drama.
The story focuses on a man who is lost in the world after losing his older brother in the war. He is travelling around France on the advice of his doctors after suffering a nervous break down. Whilst there he is in a car accident which leads him through the mountains to the remote French village of Nuell and the enchanting Fabrissa.
This is a beautifully written book. Mosse has a wonderful way of describing every detail of the environment the characters are in, you can taste the food they are eating and smell the pines on the mountain track they walk. You will be completely transported into another world.
This story is much more than just a novel about ghosts. Primarily it is about dealing with grief, guilt and learning to let go. It is about banishing the ghosts of your past that have been holding you back and moving on with them in your heart.
As someone who is terrified of the thought of dying myself, my favourite passage was this from chapter 4:
"No more panic or fear, only peace. I had the sensation of the light dimming and downy softness, like black feathers, and I hoped George had felt this obscure pleasure at the moment of his departing. No terror, most of all no pain. Just release. The sense of being welcomed home."
The Winter Ghosts is the third of Kate Mosses' novels to be based in the beautiful Languedoc. It is certainly very different to both Labyrinth and Sepulchre and I think readers expecting a novel on the same epic scale of those two previous novels will be disappointed. However, I felt that the Winter Ghosts had its own unique charm that made it an irresistible read.
The story follows Freddie, a young man mourning the loss of his brother in WW1 and adventuring through France in an attempt to heal. He uncovers a chilling tale when his car crashes outside an isolated village; the story of the fate of the inhabitants of the village who disappeared over 700 years ago.
Mosse, true to form, tells the story in a fantastic way and really takes us into Freddies' world, albeit for a short time (don't expect to take as long over this as with previous Kate Mosse novels!). The story telling is so atmospheric and vivid that I really think that one can't but help completely getting lost in this book.
I do see why some other reviewers have given this book a worse rating than me, and I completely agree that it is perhaps a disappointing follow up to Mosses' two other fantastic novels. But taken on its own, this is a really enjoyable read and should be given a chance!
Being a huge fan of Kate Mosses' previous books, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, I had very high hopes for what was described as the follow up in the Languedoc trilogy. Winter Ghosts was the third and final instillation of this Languedoc series which was all set in France.
The book is about Freddie Watson, who whilst in a book store trying to translate an old letter, tells us his story. To tell us this story he takes us back to the 1920's where he is suffering the loss of his older brother from the Great War. Driving through France he, due to unforeseen circumstances finds himself in an isolated village called Nulle. In this village, at a social Gathering, he meets a very intriguing woman named Fabrissa and they share their stories. Fabrissa later asks for Freddies help in what is the main plot of the story.
The winter Ghosts took me a while to really sink my teeth into the storyline but I wasn't worried as this did occur with both Labyrinth and Sepulchre, however unlike the other two books, I guessed the ending rather quickly, which spoiled the book for me somewhat. What didn't help was that I had picked up Mosses' Novella named The Cave some time before and had read a good chunk of it (only stopped when I found out it was going to be made into a novel).
Kate Mosses' writing and descriptions are still in keeping with the other two and so the book does have some redeeming qualities but I found that it didn't move me as much as the other two had. With the others I felt great empathy with the central protagonists and once finished couldn't find a book to match up with its style. Both Labyrinth and Sepulchre have a unique beauty about them that is very clearly lacking in The Winter Ghosts.
The story line is good but the sequence of events made it too obvious for the reader to guess what exactly was happening. It was almost infuriating for me as a reader to read that Freddie Watson couldn't understand what was happening when to me it was so obvious.
Overall I would say this was a disappointment. Yet if you do not mind knowing the plots before you read or if you haven't read one of Mosses over books before I would certainly give this a go. I feel that my love of the other two has definitely prejudiced me against this book and because I was expecting so much more I never would have liked it.
This book still has that beautiful way of words that Kate Mosse is so good at and so is not an awful read (just not a very good one).
====What's It About?====
The Winter Ghosts is set in 1933 initially, where we meet the lead character, Freddie Watson, who whilst in a French bookshop, trying to get a medieval letter translated, is persuaded to tell the story of how he came to come across such a piece of writing. From here, the book mainly takes place in the 1920s.
Much of the story focuses on how Freddie is still mourning his elder brother, who was killed in the First World War. A troubled man, he's returned to the Nulle area of France -not far from where his brother died - when he loses control of his car in the snow. Forced to trek to a village for help, his life takes an unusual twist, when he meets Fabrisaa - a beautiful girl, whom he falls in love with.
Troubles erupt and it's up to Freddie to save the day, but can he?
====A Good Read?====
For me, no. There are lots of short sentences in the book, which could've been linked into a longer sentence. I appreciate it's done for effect, but that style of writing grates on me a bit. I also found the book to be rather dull. Most of the action happens in the last few of the 272 pages. I struggled to get into the story and at times had to force myself to continue reading.
The descriptions in throughout the novel are good and paint good images in the mind.
I did feel had the plot got into a better stride earlier on, the story could've been extended, however, I feel, although a short book, it's probably about right.
There's a fair bit of French in it, and as I didn't take French after the age of 14 at school, that lost me a bit.
====Never Judge a Book By its Cover====
So, so true in this case. The cover is gloriously designed in a rich, deep blue with sort of a snow effect around the edge and clear silver writing. This, you would think, paves the way for a rich, deep story, but alas, for me it lacked substance and in places, was predictable.
I haven't read any other of Kate Mosse's books, but I know on having given them to my sister as gifts, this one is far shorter than her other work. I have been told the short sentences is her style of writing, so I guess I can't hold that against her. But for me, this is certainly not the best novel I've ever read. At no point did I find it a page turner and although it could be read in a day, it took me a week as I kept on getting bored and putting it down. I'd suggest borrowing it from the library
The Winter Ghosts is a novel set ten-fifteen years after the end of the first world war, that is 1928 and 1933. The novel looks at grief over the loss of an older brother and the need for healing which only another person can give.
Kate Mosse wrote Labrynth and Sepulchre both are historical fiction with a bit of international espionage and are set in the Occitania which is now modern day France. Labrynth looked at the crusade and the Cathars in the 12th century, some people really loved it but it missed the mark in my opinion being too much of an adventure story and not enough proper literature. I haven't read Sepulchre, but Kate Mosse writing style is more Dan Brown than Frederick Forsythe.
Starting very briefly in 1933 with an upbeat man walking into a French bookshop with an old medieval letter, it soon develops into a monologue by the man about events 5 years previously in the same region of France. Taking the story back 5 years, a depressed and emotional man is driving through the French mountains when he's caught in a snowstorm, fearing for his life he finds an isolated village called Nulle. The man Frederick Watson, an Englishman has been carrying around the weight of the loss of his elder brother 12 years earlier in a First world war battle not far from the area he's driving through. The loss of his brother sent him into a spin and unhinged his mind for many years, even though he's been feeling better the loss of his brother still profoundly affects him.
Frederick burdened by the ghosts from the past goes to a village late night party, where he meets a beautiful women called Fabrissa who has ghosts in her past too. The pair run from the meeting and over the night talk about there loss and the ghosts they carry.
The book looks at loss, grief and redemption through conversation, it's a bit predictable at times and is short at only 272 pages. In fact, the book is a bit of a con really because it's only 272 pages, in large type and with wide borders, this is a book which could easily be read in an afternoon. the paper though is lovely and thick and you might be forgiven for thinking that your reading an old manuscript, the other plus is the gorgeous black cover with an inlaid tree in silver. However, I would be a bit annoyed if I'd paid £15 for it as it is a very short novel.
So in conclusion, this is a charming book in some ways with the character of Frederick one which the reader can easily engage with but it's predictable at times. The ghosts of the tale are an area that has been well looked over in the past by to be honest better authors than Kate Mosse, but the loss of a loved older brother is well written and at least believable many years after the event.
So I enjoyed it, it's an easy read in some ways about an emotive issue but as a piece of literature it's only fair to middling. So two stars for the writing and the concept and one extra for the books presentation.
As a huge fan of Kate Mosse's previous novels, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Winter Ghosts. I met her in 2008, and she said she was working on the follow up to Labyrinth and Sepulchre, to feature the recurring character Audric Baillard. I assumed The Winter Ghosts was this follow up.
The Winter Ghosts takes place mainly in 1928, although the story is being told in 1933. A young Englishman, Freddie Watson, who lost his brother in the Great War, is travelling through the south of France, in the Corbieres/Languedoc region. He has a car accident, and seeks refuge in the village of Nulle, where he hears an extraordinary story, and meets the mysterious Fabrissa.
The first thing I noticed about The Winter Ghosts, before I even started reading it, was its size. It is half the length of the previous novels, perhaps less, and in addition the typeface is large and the text on the page has a lot of white space around it. There are also pictures, line drawings. In short (literally), it is not as substantial a novel as her previous ones, and I read it in one day. It is a very pretty book though, in hardback with no dustjacket, the cover is dark blue with silver print on it.
Starting the novel, I was filled with anticipation. Mosse writes beautifully about this region of France and its people, so I had high hopes for The Winter Ghosts. I wasn't disappointed - her style and use of language was wonderfully evocative, yet clear and easy to follow.
However, as I continued reading, I suddenly realised I was halfway through the book and the story had not properly got going. I was still in what would be the introduction of a longer novel, but it should have been long past in this short one.
I cannot fault the story itself, although I did see the twist very early, which I never have before with Mosse's novels - which makes me wonder if it is intentionally obvious. The story is engaging, well written and has the usual elements of suspense and a little fear. I think it would have benefitted from less introduction and more of the main story though.
Before The Winter Ghosts was published, Mosse published a story called The Cave as part of the Adult Quick Reads series. I haven't read it, but I know it is just a short version of The Winter Ghosts. I think that she wrote The Cave, and then decided to turn it into a novel; or perhaps wrote The Winter Ghosts and then shortened it. One thing is clear - The Winter Ghosts is a short novel, and is not the follow up to Labyrinth and Sepulchre that I expected. Audric Baillard does not feature in it.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter Ghosts, Mosse as usual has written an engaging and beautifully written story, but I think I expected too much of it. Or rather, my expectations were wrong. Had I realised it was not a follow up novel, I would not have compared it to the previous ones and not turned every page expecting Baillard to appear.
As it is, I would definately recommend The Winter Ghosts, as I would recommend Labyrinth and Sepulchre, but if you have already read them, remember this one is not connected to them!