It’s 1928 and Freddie Watson is coming to terms with a number of things, chief of which is the loss of his elder brother, George, during the Great War. This loss has had a lasting and profound effect on him, finally resulting in a breakdown.
His doctor in England recommends a spell on the continent in the hope that the air and change of scenery will do the young man some good. So he drives around France. In the run-up to Christmas, driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, Freddie gets caught in what almost feels like an unnatural snowstorm, and his car spins off the road.
After wandering around unknown countryside, Freddie finds himself in the village of Nulle, a sad little place which is about to celebrate La Fête de Saint-Etienne. Being invited to attend the festivities, Freddie thinks he might as well, and he spends the evening with a beautiful woman, Fabrissa. But things are not as they seem…and what was started by a car accident due to bad weather leads Freddie on an haunting journey of persecution, loss, remembrance, sadness and strength dating back to the beginning of the fourteenth century.
Being such a fan of Labyrinth and Sepulchre, I wondered how The Winter Ghosts would fair in comparison. I found the beginning to be a little slow, but with hindsight, it was necessary to the telling of the poignantly sad story. And once the pace picked up, I found it very hard to put the book down; I needed to know how it ended.
The author’s descriptions, as ever, are detailed and vivid, and it is not hard to imagine that you are in South-West France with the characters. Her enthusiasm for the place and period are clearly evident in her writing, making this book an easy, enjoyable read.
The Winter Ghosts is a beautiful if sad tale, one that I would recommend to all fans of historical fiction.