The Snow Rose
The Snow Rose is the gripping story of a woman on the run from her past by Lulu Taylor, author of The Winter Folly.
I suppose Rory and I will divorce at some point, when I’ve got the time to think about it and the strength to tackle the dreary admin it will involve. The house. The division of money and belongings. What will happen to Heather.
He’s not taking her away from me. It’s what he wants. It’s what they all want.
I know they think I’m not fit to look after her. My mother thinks it. That’s why I won’t see her either, or my sister. They’re in cahoots with Rory, all of them scheming how to get her away from me. That’s why I have to escape them while I can, while I still have the opportunity . . .
Kate is on the run with her daughter, her identity hidden and her destination unknown to her husband and family. She’s found a place where she and Heather can be alone and safe, a huge old house full of empty rooms. But it turns out she’s not alone. There are the strange old ladies in the cottage next door, Matty and her blind sister Sissy. How long can Kate hide Heather’s presence from them? And then the newcomers arrive, the band of eccentrics led by the charming and charismatic Archer. Kate begins to realize that she is involved in something strange and dangerous, and the past she’s so desperate to escape is about to find her . . .
The Snow Rose poses as a traditional English ghost story…until it’s not. Kate has a secret tragic past and flees with her daughter to a rundown English estate that she has signed on, using an alias and hiding the presence of her daughter, to be the caretaker of. As they begin to settle in to life at the estate, they are interrupted by two elderly sisters who live in a cottage behind the garden; one is overly nosy and makes Kate feel uncomfortable, and the other seems able to see more than she should be able to considering she is blind. Then noises begin sounding from the basement, and Kate is sure someone is locked away in the cellar that she’s been instructed very strictly not to go into.
Just when things start unravelling for Kate, the plot shifts back in time nearly one hundred years to the previous owners of Paradise House: three sisters, one of which is a raving religious fanatic enraptured by the prophecies of a man known as The Beloved. The elder sister has declared her mad, but soon the youngest, Lettice, is enthralled as well and Paradise House becomes a commune for The Beloved and his followers, mainly female. The plot soon begins to shift back and forth between Lettice and Kate, then Kate’s friend Caz, as parallels in their storylines begin to emerge and it’s revealed that this is not a ghost story at all, but a tale of madness and fanatic belief in the face of the disappointment of life.
I finished this novel wondering what on Earth I had just read. It was enjoyable…but much more so when I believed I was reading a ghost story. The introduction of Lettice and the religious fanaticism plot line confused the story’s rhythm and from that point onwards, the novel felt like the two different stories were constantly interrupting each other. On its own, Lettice’s plot was actually the more enjoyable one. Kate’s story became weird and muddled when her past trauma is revealed. It became hard for me to keep reading the book, but I wanted to know what happened to Lettice. Disappointingly, her storyline isn’t satisfactorily resolved–instead it’s sort of left hanging and the loose ends are wrapped up during a conversation with Matty, Sissy, and Kate at the end of the novel. This novel was all right but it just wasn’t for me.