15 February 2014

Book Review: The Winter Folly by Lulu Taylor

"In this house there are many secrets… It is 1965 and young Alexandra Crewe obediently marries the man her father has selected for her. But very soon both she and her husband Laurence realize that their marriage is a disaster. When real love finds Alexandra, plucking her out of her unhappy existence, she is powerless to resist. Her home becomes Fort Stirling, a beautiful Dorset castle, but Alexandra fears that there will be a price to pay for this wonderful new life. When tragedy strikes, it seems that her punishment has come, and there is only one way she can atone for her sins . . . In the present day, Delilah Young is the second wife of John Stirling and the new chatelaine of Fort Stirling. The house seems to be a sad one and Delilah hopes to fill it with life and happiness. But when she attempts to heal the heartbreak in John’s life, it seems that the forces of the past might be too strong for her. Why does John have such a hatred for the old folly on the hill, and what happened to his mother when she vanished from his life? As Delilah searches for the truth, she realizes that perhaps some secrets are better left buried . . ."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Winter Folly as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was utterly thrilled when the lovely Lulu Taylor sent me a copy of her brand new book The Winter Folly at the beginning of last month. I'd been dying to read it for ages, having loved all of Lulu's previous novels. I was immediately taken by the cover too, it's so beautiful and really suits the story as well. While Lulu's previous books have been about rich glamourous young girls, this book takes a step away from that into being a more serious novel, with a large portion of the book set in the 1960's as well. I was excited to read it and see how much I'd enjoy it, and I'm so pleased I did because I loved it!

In 1965, Alexandra marries well and is moved into Fort Stirling, a huge Dorset castle, and is sure she is going to live out her happy-ever-after there with her new, perfect family. However, tragedy is soon to be bestowed upon Alexandra, and life changes for the family for good. Back to the present dat, Delilah Young has just moved into the spooky Fort Stirling with her new husband John Stirling, and she is determined to unlock the secrets of the past, and the secrets of the house, especially to do with John and his mother. He also appears to have an irrational hatred for the old folly in the grounds of the castle, but Delilah can't work out why. She sets off on a mission to find out exactly what happened in the past to make her husband so emotionally torn, and finds out some shocking secrets....

I'll be honest and say at the start I found the book a bit spooky!! I don't read any kind of crime fiction because I literally get too scared to read on, and it plays on my mind. The opening to this book had a little bit of a sinister feel to it, and as I was reading it quite late at night, I had to stop and wait until the morning to carry on, it was just a bit spooky for my liking, I can't deal with it! As it moved on from this prologue to the present day story though, it settled down and became something I could enjoy reading! There's 2 stories going on in this book, flashbacks to the time of Alexandra's life in 1965, and then the present day with Delilah, both set at Fort Stirling, and there are strange similarities in the stories, it was fantastic to read.

I adored Alexandra and the part of the book set in the 1960's. It was fascinating to read as I haven't read a lot of fiction set at the time, so it was an eye-opener for me. Taylor describes everything brilliantly, from the clothes to the places and really absorbs you into that time period. I felt desperately sorry for Alexandra at the beginning, she's forced into something she really has no clue about, and I was hoping she would find her happiness. As her story went on, you finally think things have gone well for her, her story takes a more tragic turn, and it was really gripping reading. In between these parts of the story, we join the troubled new marriage of John Stirling and Delilah. I didn't know whether these two could stay together, and this is what made it all the more compulsive to read.

I felt Delilah had got herself into a situation she didn't know how to get out of, and while I felt very sorry for her, I did think she needed to stand up to her husband more. Her story got a lot more interesting as she started digging in the past to find out what event has made John heartbroken, and exactly what happened to his mother. What she uncovers was truly shocking, and I didn't see it coming at all - I loved that! It really did surprise me, and is a fantastic twist in the tail of the story - I think Taylor did a fantastic job of leading us up the garden path and never at all making you think this is what really could have happened. You have to read it for yourself to find out what it is though!

This book was a fantastic read for me, and I found myself taken to either Alexandra's or Delilah's world every time I picked up the book. Fort Stirling is so beautifully described, you feel like you are exploring all the old, dusty room alongside Delilah, not just from the pages of the book. There is quite a bit of tragedy in the book, but the love stories are very touching, and uplift the book. Yes, this is very different from Lulu Taylor's other books but her writing is just as fantastic, and I loved that she has tried something different here, it's worked really. I loved having two time periods to read about, it keeps the pace of the book up and I found it really fascinating to read. I loved this book, the brilliant writing, wonderful descriptions and compulsive stories make it a book you should definitely pick up.

1 comment:

  1. I love the cover! I haven't read any of Lulu Taylor's books but I may start with this one, fab review.