MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

In Falling Snow

by Mary-Rose MacColl

In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl X
In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
In Falling Snow

At first it was the summers I remembered, long warm days under the palest blue skies, the cornflowers and irises and forget-me-nots lining the road through the Lys forest, the buzz of insects going about their work, Violet telling me lies. He loves you, he loves you not, she'd recite, skipping along the road until all the petals were gone. She'd finish with "he loves you" no matter what the flower told her. I'd seen her cheat like that. Violet showed me an iris and told me what it was. Beautiful like you, she said. She couldn't believe I'd never seen one. They're common as weeds, she said. No offence. None taken.

But now in my mind's eye, it's winter, that first winter we arrived, Miss Ivens and me alighting from the train in Viarmes, the darkness descending, no one to meet us. And there's Miss Ivens herself, charging ahead to walk, not a thought for our luggage, abandoned on the station platform when we'd failed to rouse the porter. "Where's Monsieur Bousier?" Miss Ivens said, as if I might know. I shrugged but she'd already moved off down the hill at a cracking pace—even with my long stride I could barely match her—turning back to me every now and then, those large straight teeth somehow adding to my trepidation, all the better to eat you with going through my head. What was I doing? I'd boarded a train with a perfect stranger. I'd listened to her story for an hour from Paris and now I was following her to a place called Royaumont. "Better to walk at any rate," Miss Ivens said. "Nothing like seeing it on foot," turning back to smile, "the world, I mean," and then she was off again.

"You should know that you and I and the rest are at the beginning of something momentous," she'd said on the train, a curl of her dark hair slipped from its moorings and dangling between her eyes. "It's going to be grand," she insisted, reading something in my face that suggested I disagreed. I'd been assigned to the British Casualty Clearing Station in Soissons, close to Amiens where we thought Tom had gone. A Sergeant Fleming would be there to meet my train unless Matron had sent word, and no one sent word of anything in these strange days, not as far as I could tell. I'd signed up in London with the Red Cross and already, I'd had orders changed, waiting those three days in Paris, I assumed because of a change in the fighting. And then I'd happened upon Miss Ivens and everything changed again.

I was just what she needed, Miss Ivens said. She smiled so quickly I almost missed it. Her French wasn't the best, she said, book-learned, she could write but no one understood her spoken word, and no one else at Royaumont had time. "You'll be my shadow," she said, "my voice. Just what I need. I can't believe our good fortune. There's a little work to be done at the abbey, of course," dismissing it like a fly with a flick of her wrist. "The building's not quite ready. It's rather old," making shapes with her hands, collapsing them into her lap. "I need someone who understands the language and can liaise with the tradesmen, someone with common sense. I believe that's you." If I was silent, she never noticed, just kept on talking, more to herself really, setting out on her fingers the work she wanted to do that night, the supplies they'd need to order before Christmas, the long list of people to meet the next day. I listened.

And then Viarmes itself, at the base of the hill, a main street, a few shops, already shut up tight although it was barely 4 p.m., a little stone square defined by the church and town hall, the smell of incense—benediction or death—and we soon saw which. There was a funeral procession ahead of us. A boy had died, we learned from some stragglers. His leg went under a plough and no one knew to stanch bleeding. Miss Ivens was furious at that. Knowledge was something the whole world had a right to and how could they not be told? We turned off the main road, watched the funeral at its slow march behind a black motor vehicle—Monsieur Bousier, our taxi driver, was also the undertaker—heading across a cold field towards the little cemetery in the nearby town of Asnières-sur-Oise. We took a narrow road out of town, more a path really, which was flanked on either side by pine trees. "Blanche de Castille rode her horses through here," Miss Ivens said. Perhaps I looked perplexed. "Her son built the abbey, Royaumont. Louis IX, the saint." She sniffed the air. "They were all white—the horses I mean. But Blanche was marvellous. Such an example to women. I'd love to have known her, just for an hour."

Excerpted from In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl. Copyright © 2013 by Mary-Rose MacColl. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Kindness of Strangers
    The Kindness of Strangers
    by Michael E. McCullough
    "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Everyone, at some point in their life, has ...
  • Book Jacket: Hamnet
    Hamnet
    by Maggie O'Farrell
    William Shakespeare's name is never used in Hamnet — a conspicuous absence around which Maggie...
  • Book Jacket: After the Last Border
    After the Last Border
    by Jessica Goudeau
    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people around the world is ...
  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Migrations
    by Charlotte McConaghy

    An instant bestseller set on the brink of catastrophe, for readers of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

The the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.