A historical tale of sacrifice, folly and passion, from a much-loved author - 1907, County Durham. Lorna Robson works long and tiring hours in her aunt’s hat shop. Although she tries not to complain, the genteel poverty they live in depresses her. But when she discovers that a relation has left her a large but dilapidated property, her aunt is strangely furious, and they part on bad terms. Lorna knows she can never return. However, it is only when she sees Snow Hall that her situation truly dawns on her: selling the house is unthinkable, but how can she survive without money or friends?
When I chose to read this book I did not remember that I had tried to read one of this author's books before. I am glad that I did not remember, because if I had, I might not have read this book at all. I actually rather liked this book, but I only gave it two stars because of how much I disliked the lead heroine.
Lorna seemed very unaware of what she was doing, and what might come of her actions. I didn't really understand her character at first, but I had the impression that she was at least moderately intelligent, just stuck in the rut of her life with seemingly no escape. I didn't fully realize that she was possibly socially inept until I got further into the book, where Lorna began to make some bad and frankly, disappointing choices. But I didn't blame Lorna for her lack of social skills. I blamed her aunt, who seemed to have disabled her in a way, needlessly. That really made me feel bad for Lorna, and although that did help me understand her better, it still didn't quite explain her lack of common sense, or more accurately, her lack of choice to use it.
When Lorna arrives at Snow Hall she feels an almost instant connection to the beautiful old house. However, it is rundown and in need of great repair. Without the funds to do this, Lorna's solicitor strongly suggests that she sell it and move on with her life. One of her desires in particular, to open and run her own stationary shop. I began to really worry and yet enjoy the curve balls in the story being thrown by the author at what happens next, when her charming cousin she did not even know existed, shows up at Snow Hall, and invites her to meet even more members of her family. Lorna immediately trusts him and takes his offer, not knowing that it will be one of the most ultimate mistakes that lead her on an unsure path of seemingly ruthless betrayal and self-discovery.
I found myself liking the story itself. I read it quickly, and throughout I felt it had a gothic feel to it. The pace was good, and I actually liked the character development, and the characters in it, good and bad. They all made me feel something, which is always a good sign. Ultimately, I am glad I picked this book up, and I even plan to read another by this author, and re-try the one that turned me away from her initially, now that I see what kind of a story she can write.