Snow in Winter

Snow in Winter

Snow in Winter


Nell is a wartime baby. Her father is away at the front, and her mother takes her to live with her sister and family on their farm in the Yorkshire Dales. Her mother dies so the little girl is brought up with her aunt and uncle and her cousins Chrissie and Derek on the Newboulds’ farm. Nell grows up in a safe, secure home, but longs for the day when the war will be over and her father and she will have a home of their own, as he keeps promising. But he is a weak man, can’t take the responsibility of looking after her, takes to drink and dies when she is eleven. She grows up determined to be independent and never depend on anyone again.


When her father’s aunt, a headmistress in London, turns up and offers to see to her education, it is agreed that she should spend term time away at school and return to the Dales for holidays.


Being with her aunt reinforces her determination that one day she too will have a career and be independent. Yet still she longs for a home and family and decides that she will get well established in her career before considering marriage and children. This is the theory on which she builds her life.


All goes according to plan until she falls in love with a writer, Gregory Nansen.


Meanwhile her gentle cousin, the domesticated Chrissie, who has devoted her life to looking after her husband and children, is suddenly bereft when they leave home and bitterly regrets that she has never had the nursing career that had once been her ambition.


Disillusioned with the assumptions on which they had built their lives, both women seek solutions which very nearly end in tragedy. But, different characters though they are, different though their lives have been, the bond of their shared childhood, enables them to reach out to help each other in a way that nobody else, however understanding, could have done.



Margaret Bacon has such intelligent writing sensitivity that the concept of reading fiction fades away into the feel of real drama. In “Snow in Winter” she blends the Yorkshire Dale childhood of Nell Thorpe into her academic, liberated adulthood with proper well-paced rhythm so that the memories of kitchen smells, farmyard chores and hilly walks become as meaningful to the reader as they are to Nell.


Orphaned young, she is brought up by the honest, hard-working Newboulds and their Dale is her world until Aunt Thorpe, a dedicated headmistress, arrives to induct her into the mysteries of career, travel and ambition.


Holidaying in the snow, she meets Gregory Nansen, possibly a great writer. As they explore their pasts and the chances of a joint future, Margaret Bacon shows, with humour and insight, how we are all controlled by our histories. There is depth and there is pathos; Snow in Winter is a very fine novel.

Yorkshire Post


She leads her own life, carves out her own career, chooses her own men, and refuses to consider marriage…and what happens to her? Read on – but be warned, it’s a cautionary tale.



Nell is a war babe, left in the care of her aunt and uncle, farming folk, and grows up with their children, Chrissie and Derek. But it soon becomes apparent that Nell is set apart both by being an orphan and by her intelligence. She is sent to boarding school, and from that point the narrative divides, delineating the parallel lives of the two cousins, Chrissie, the farmer’s daughter, now earth mother, and quirky Nell, libbing and learning. Women in love, indeed. The novel made a strong emotional impact on me. I haven’t read any of Margaret Bacon’s other works of fiction but Snow in Winter will entice me to them.

Woman’s Journal


A young orphan girl is brought up by no-nonsense aunt and uncle in the harsh beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. She is determined never to rely on a man, gets away, gets a career, is successful and then – yes of course she meets The Man. Meanwhile her cousin is caught up in domesticity, children and a sudden empty nest. A sharply written tale of growing up and self-reliance. The sort of novel that inspires you to take control of your life.

Daily Mail


Snow in Winter is about the many faces of love: between parents and children, between families, between women and men, between people and their roots. Few writers can convey the terrors and delights of childhood with such heart-rending sincerity. Interwoven in Nell’s story is the vastly different life of her cousin Chrissie. The description of her middle-aged depression and near-breakdown is the best I’ve ever read and the final chapter is a masterly piece of writing.

Sunday Independent


The lives of two English female cousins come alive in this poignant tale from Margaret Bacon. Little Nell Thorpe, left with her stern but loving Yorkshire relations due to World War Two and her father’s alcoholism, grows especially close to her cousin, the nurturing Chrissie Newbould. Nell prepares for the life of an independent career woman who’s not shy of enjoying a few affairs. Chrissie, meanwhile weds engineer Jack, subjugating her ambition for a nursing career to family and frequent moves. In time both cousins come to a watershed: Nell’s is a passionate love for an author that makes her reconsider her attitude towards marriage and family. Chrissie’s is a hope of realising her career dream. But devastating events drive each to face her deepest fears, and both will realise how difficult it is to truly know another person. Terse, effective characterizations mingle with the sounds, smells and feelings of Nell’s childhood. Vibrant secondary characters enrich a novel that’s up to the high story-telling standard Bacon has previously set.

Publishers’ Weekly USA