The Winter Children by Lulu Taylor

winter childrenA novel set in Europe….

Because I am English, finding a book set in Europe is quite easy. I was recently given this book, it was in my stocking in fact. I had asked for a book, and this was the one chosen for me. I was looking forward to reading it. I had seen that it had scored well on various sites where it had been rated so I was all set.

I never like to read the synopsis because I don’t like to know anything about a novel and let its mysteries unravel as I read, but I do look to the front cover for clues. So I know there are twins and I know there are children…..born in the winter? I was a little  perturbed by the sentence beneath the title however: ‘Behind a selfless act of kindness lie dark intentions’ well, if the act had dark intentions then it wouldn’t be a selfless act of kindness? Surely?

The book is based in England and centre around a couple, Dan and Olivia and a figure from Dan’s past, Francesca,  who has since married into incredible wealth. Francesca and her rich husband ave just bought a historical stately home called Renniston Hall which also was once used as a girls school. The story is based on an infatuation that went too far and a good looking man who wants everything and more and nobody to contradict him in how he wants things to be. Dan and Olivia are struggling to have a baby, but when the idea of using an egg donor becomes a real possibility, Dan’s puts his foot down until he suddenly has a change oh heart, and the reason he wants to keep a secret from his wife. When money becomes tight, Francesca offers Dan and Olivia to stay in the cottage attached to their stately home, rent free. The story then unravels to reveal what actually happened between the friends at university and the real person that Dan is. The house, however, has tragic secrets of it’s own……

I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. It was intriguing with the lies and the secrecy, I didn’t then know the depths of the characters so was not immediately  bothered by the feelings of how these lies and secrets could hurt and cause damage. As it continued I couldn’t help but side with Olivia and what was happening behind her back. I wanted so much for Dan to be a good man and in a way it is nice being contradicted in thoughts. I found the novel quite unconvincing however. I can appreciate that there needed to be the secret buried beneath the pool for Francesca to react to but to me it just felt too removed from the main story. What happened in the 50’s at Renniston Hall didn’t feel to have much relevance, albeit a heartfelt tale it could have been it’s own story, and particularly the end when Julia arrives back and finds William a.k.a Donnie. It was just slightly random for me. I found the story line fairly tame all along. I was never really guessing or wondering what was going to happen; I either knew or wasn’t that fussed. I missed the suspense I often feel when reading a novel.

Since finishing the story I have had time to reflect and consider other possibilities for the story and what the real messages are. I suppose the main one would be that it doesn’t matter who you are born to, a Mother is more than blood?  I think it reminds us not to lie, lies will always comes back to haunt you and from Francesca perspective, be happy and content with what you have. Happiness comes from within