A Woman Made of Snow

by Elisabeth Gifford

Literary Fiction Family Drama Historical fiction Book Club Recommendations

LoveReading Expert Review of A Woman Made of Snow

An enthralling mystery of an unknown bride, tragic love, absorbing period atmosphere, and stirring style - this captivating novel is a page-turning delight.

Rich with romance, mystery and family drama, Elisabeth Gifford’s A Woman Made of Snow is a delicious treat for readers who like their historic fiction seasoned with haunting atmosphere.

It’s 1949 and Caro and Alasdair Gillan are newly married Cambridge graduates living near his Scottish family home. Though elegant, crumbling Kelly Castle has seen better days, and hides many secrets, as Caro discovers when she accepts her mother-in-law’s suggestion that she research the Gillan family history. Her academic career curtailed when she falls pregnant soon after marriage, Caro is glad to have something to occupy her mind, and the mystery of a missing bride is certainly intriguing. The woman in question was married to Alasdair’s great-grandfather, Oliver, whom we meet when the narrative slips back to the late 1800s. As a boy, Oliver resolved to explore the frozen north, and later read medicine at Edinburgh University. Then, as broken-hearted young man, Oliver signs up to board a ship bound for the Arctic.

In the present, as a shocking find is made in the castle grounds, there are tensions between Caro and Alasdair’s family - she’s not the kind of woman they’d envisaged him marrying, yet she is the kind of woman who can uncover Oliver’s past, not least when she finds the diary of his voyage aboard the Narwhal whaling ship and pieces together a tragic and beautiful tale of love that exposes abhorrent Western notions of “savages”. 

With a fine evocation of time, place, and Inuit society, A Woman Made of a Snow is a moving, captivating read.

Joanne Owen

A Woman Made of Snow Synopsis

Scotland, 1949: Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his dilapidated family estate in the middle of nowhere. Stuck caring for their tiny baby, and trying to find her way with an opinionated mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift, alone and unwelcome.

But when she is tasked with sorting out the family archives, Caroline discovers a century-old mystery that sparks her back to life. There is one Gillan bride who is completely unknown - no photos exist, no records have been kept - the only thing that is certain is that she had a legitimate child. Alasdair's grandmother.

As Caroline uncovers a strange story that stretches as far as the Arctic circle, her desire to find the truth turns obsessive. And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, her hunt becomes more than just a case of curiosity. What happened all those years ago? Who was the bride? And who is the body...?

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781838953218
Publication date: 7th October 2021
Author: Elisabeth Gifford
Publisher: Corvus an imprint of Atlantic Books
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Primary Genre Literary Fiction
Other Genres:
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Closing date: 07/10/2021

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Elisabeth Gifford Press Reviews

A gorgeous, melancholy love story - The Times, praise for The Lost Lights of St Kilda

Desperately romantic, lyrically written and with a fascinating plot. - Katie Fforde, praise for The Lost Lights of St Kilda

I loved this book. Beautifully written and descriptive... The twisted threads weave an engaging plot which takes us on a trail of human courage and measures the cost of betrayal. Set in the last poignant years of life on remote St Kilda and in war-torn Europe, it paints both worlds with a vividness that is wholly convincing. - Sarah Maine, praise for The Lost Lights of St Kilda

The characters are exquisitely drawn, and the slowly emerging love story rings entirely true. This is one of the best novels I've read in a long while, a real jewel. - Gill Paul, praise for The Lost Lights of St Kilda

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781838953218
Publication date: 07/10/2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781786499097
Publication date: 07/10/2021
Format: Paperback

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About Elisabeth Gifford

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She has written articles for The Times and the Independent and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

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