Mary-Rose MacColl's latest book, In Falling Snow
, is a heart-rending story of love and loss. Iris Crane Hogan is an ailing eighty-two-year-old living in Australia in the 1970s when she receives an unexpected invitation from France. The message activates her failing memory, forcing her to revisit her experiences during WWI when she worked at Royaumont an abbey (see 'Beyond the Book') converted to a hospital for wounded soldiers as an administrator and nurse. While there, Iris formed deep attachments, suffered intense grief, and developed profound secrets that influenced every aspect of her post-war life. Much of the novel tells Iris's story in bits and pieces, covering her childhood in rural Australia, her years in France, her life as a mother and wife, and her current situation as an elderly widow. The other thread that runs through the plot is told from...
Beyond the Book
The Royaumont Abbey, where much of In Falling Snow
is set, is located approximately 18 miles (30 kilometers) north of Paris in Val-d'Oise.
Dedicated in 1228 CE, the structure was commissioned by King Louis IX as a Cistercian abbey. The Cistercian order was established by a group of Benedictine monks in the Cîteaux Abbey around the year 1098. Their intent was to return to a strict observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict, and their order was known for its austerity and seclusion as well as a return to manual labor, particularly fieldwork. Cistercian architecture reflects these values, being simple and utilitarian and lacking adornment (elaborate architecture was considered a distraction). The abbeys are in remote valleys for isolation, and built, where possible,...