Briefly, Margaret Lea works in her fathers antiquarian bookshop with a fascination for the biographies of the long-dead that lead her to write about them herself. She receives a letter from a famous author of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, a known recluse. Miss Winter is elderly, in failing health and finally wants to tell the story of her life, she invites Margaret to travel to her home outside Yorkshire.Here we begin to hear the Gothic tale of the Angelfield family. The book reminds me of the classics Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Each character is prominent and woven through the novel by the writing.
The opening sentence caught my attention, November is my birth month and so begins this picturesque
Page 6, ""My gripe is not with lovers of the truth, but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story?" so writes Ms Winter to Margaret. Page 8, "There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic." Page 17, "People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some ther is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist." Page 29, "I read old novels. The reason is simple: I prefer proper endings. Marriages and deaths, noble sacrifices and miraculous restorations, tragic separations and unhoped for reunions, great falls and dreams fulfilled. These in my view constitute an ending worth the wait.".
Because these brutally cold winter days have me staying put in the house, I have time to read. I am grateful for the habit of reading that came to me very early in life, with being read to and with treasuring my Little Golden Books. Page 289 has one of my favorite quotes in the novel, " Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes--characters even--caught in the fibers of your clothes and when you open the new book they are still with you."
Grief on page 289, " We all have our sorrows and although the exact delineaments, weight and dimensions of grief are different for everyone, the color of grief is common to us all. " I never considered the color of grief, what would it be, grey, dreary, tinged with hues? Another intersting theme in this novel is the story that everyone has and a reference to a weightless story being one that has never been told, never shared, never put to words. Weightless stories can be a missing part of a puzzle and cause people to wonder about them all their lives. Such weightless stories are untold and may be presumed better than a heavy load brought from the shared details of a told story. I wonder is it better to know or not often.
I give this book 5 *****. I understand the author has another book out and likely I will want to read it too.