Excellent novel about the life of Grace Farringdon a young woman in the early 1900 s who wants to leave her stifled life Eventually she gets to Candlin College where she meets Leonora Locke Cicely Parr and Winifred Hooper and starts the Antartic Exploration Society Looking back on how she is the only surviving member Grace tells her story and evokes the restrictions on women with great atmosphere "Loved It Grace Farringdon Has Always Been Obsessed With Polar "it Grace Farringdon has always been obsessed with polar and diligently follows the exploits of Scott and Shackleton When she enrolls at Candlin College she sets up a Ladies Polar Exploration society joined by her friend Leonora Locke an aspiring playwright and suffragist Winifred Hooper a budding botanist and Cicely Parr an irascible mountaineer whose parents died in a climbing accident but who continues to climb with her intrepid aunt and uncleDisaster strikes during an expedition to THE ALPS AND WORLD WAR I ALSO INTERVENES TO Alps and World War I also intervenes to the friends A return journey to the Matterhorn brings yet another catastrophe but this time it may have been manmade As the last remaining member of the society and an isolated spinster Grace is the one recalling the incidents of those years roughly 1904 1923 But is her account reliable She has always had a vivid imagination and after graduation a few people thought she was showing signs of incipient madness now she suffers from hallucinations brought on by medication seeing dead friends and family members So how accurate are her reminiscences about what happened on those two ill fated alpine expeditionsThis is a terrific suspense novel with well realized settings Candlin is a fictionalized version of the college where my husband used to work Royal Holloway part of the University of London once nown as Bedford College for women Candlin s red brick turreted main building the statue of ueen Victoria out on the north uad pond and picture gallery with the famous painting of bloodied polar bears are all based on RHUL s wonderful Victorian Founder s Building I enjoyed this one albeit with a shudder of relief that I live here and now From the start of the book the reader is made aware that the reclusive narrator is notorious for some reason and the narrative flickers back and forth between her present and her childhood and adventurous early adulthood My favourite part of the book was the account of Grace s escape to an early women s college and her friendships with three other students with an interest in the Antarctic Their small rebellions and struggles against the
of Edwardian society develop into an claustrophobic story of dreams denied as both Grace and her compliant older sister buckle under the weight of social and family expectations The mountain seuences are excellent and Grace s voice is well done and unsettling to exactly the right degree It s a cold read one that I appreciated and found interesting than one that ignited my passion but I recommend it I was intrigued by the idea of a novel about Edwardian lady mountaineers and I was even intrigued when I placed the name of the author Because I recalled that Susanna Jones specialises in dark storytelling unreliable narrators and psychological drama I hoped that When Nights Were Cold would be something rather special and it very nearly was When Grace Farringdon was growing up she and her father followed the polar explorations of Ernest Shackleton and his contemporaries studying every detail they could find It was only supposed to be a diversion for a little girl Grace and her sister were expected to grow up into obedient women who would look after their parents and find good respectable husbands They both wanted and their parents tried to clip their wings They succeeded with Catherine but not with Grace She escaped after using covert means to secure a place at an all women college It was wonderful to watch and my heart rose for Grace and fell for Catherine There s a fine line between realism and pastiche and another between drama and melodrama Susanna Jones walks both rather well It was wonderful to arrive at university with Grace What a wonderful world it was a world full of women seeking nowledge that no man may enter a world where women were freed from social conventions and addressed only. As ueen Victoria's reign reaches its end Grace Farringdon dreams of polar explorations and of escape from her.
Restrictions Of Edwardian Society Develop Into An
Susanna Jones ¿ 4 charactersBy their surnames a world of cocoa evenings social clubs new friendships
and so many wonderful possibilities Grace was inspired and full of confidenceso many wonderful possibilities Grace was inspired and full of confidence formed forms the Antarctic Exploration Society to follow and maybe even to emulate their adventures Three other women joined Grace s new venture Leonora Locke the confident and sociable daughter of liberal parents who wants to experience everything college can offer before she steps out into the world Winifred Hooper who is apprehensive about possible adventures but curious and unwilling to be left out of any adventures that might present themselves before she settles into the traditional roles of wife and mother and Cecily Parr who is clever forthright nowledgable and eager to take the lead A diverse uartet indeed and that confirmed the idea I had that all of this was a little bit contrived But the relationships between the four had a very interesting dynamic and the story had so many possibilities There would be adventures there would be tragedies and there would be repercussions It was compulsive reading In the end Grace would be the only survivor living alone in the family home that she had hated The stories of her friends of her family of just how she got there are complex and uite extraordinary And as those stories unfolded I began to uestion Grace s sanity and to uestion just how reliable her account of her life really was She was a wonderfully storyteller catching the dark atmosphere of her home the cold intensity of her adventures the tangled relationships that surrounded her so very very well The story became and intense dark and claustrophobic before winding up with a wonderful twist I loved it but still I have to uibble a little Early in the story I loved the way Susanna Jones pitched her story between realism and pastiche and between drama and melodrama "But later I began to wish that she would take her story one way or "later I began to wish that she would take her story one way or other and embrace that direction wholeheartedly And I wish some of her ideas had been developed a little and some of the story opened out a little She had four women undergraduates with opposing views on women s suffrage and I wanted to hear them argue but I didn t I wanted to spend time with the Antarctic Exploration Society to follow every detail of their activities It isn t that this wasn t a really good book it was it s just that I have a feeling that it could have been just a little deeper and richer From Shade Point Hours have passed and I am shivering I could sit down here until I freeze let frost be my skin and let icicles hang from my chin let glaciers creep through London and crush my house It is how I have lived these fifteen yearsSince her superb debut novel The Earthuake Bird Susanna Jones has been crafting a place as one of this country s most impressive writers She excels in dark psychological mystery Not procedural mystery with detectives and so on but the ind of sharp dissection of our devices and desires that reminds me of Du Maurier or HighsmithThis new novel is her finest and that s from someone who liked the previous three very much Something about its chilly madness has stuck with me and I find I have never read anything by this author before and was not encouraged by the cover saying a gripping psychological thriller However I didn t feel this book was a psychological thriller and it certainly wasn t gripping for meOn the positive side the book covered some potentially very interesting topics and had any of these areas as described by previous reviewers been developed I probably would have enjoyed the book However they were not and the tantalising glimpses before the author changed tack yet again were just frustratingWhat was real and what was in the protagonist s imagination Did I really care No I guess this switching between the two was what was meant to make it a psychological thriller but it just frustrated me and made me put the book down and go off to do something productive If it hadn t been the first book for a new reading group I certainly wouldn t have bothered to finish itIt will be interesting to hear what other members of the group have to say especially as the author is going to attend the meeting As the Second World War approaches Grace Farringdon a lonely and reclusive woman is shelterin. Stifling home with her protective parents and eccentric agoraphobic sister But when Grace secretly applies to. .