It’s two years now since I read, reviewed and loved Sewing The Shadows Together by Alison Baillie (review here). You might remember that I won a signed copy of the book in the #TBConFB charity auction for Cancer Research UK, together with the opportunity to be a named character in her next book. And that book is now here – A Fractured Winter was published in April by Williams and Whiting, available for kindle and in paperback – and it’s a real pleasure to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour.
I had the immense honour of reading an early draft of this book – just to check I was happy with my named character. I enjoyed it then – Alison is an excellent writer. But I later read the final version – changes made, the whole thing tightened up, honed and polished, and wrapped in its perfect cover. And I have to say – as I did about Alison’s first book – that I really loved it.
A missing girl. Threatening notes. Sinister strangers.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.
Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?
What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?
A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody.
As a fan of distinctive and well-drawn settings, I couldn’t have asked for more – the chilling beauty of the Swiss alpine village, the small details of daily life, the rituals and celebrations, are all superbly done, and make a perfect backdrop for a gripping and original story.
The characters in the present day story are superbly drawn – from difficult teen to ageing rock star, from frightened child to arrogant entrepreneur – but the real tour-de-force is Olivia herself, always at the story’s centre, the reader’s involvement in her story enhanced by the well-woven-in story of her early life and the experiences that shaped her.
The story itself is excellent – a combination of family drama and a complex and convincing suspense-filled thriller that I found totally compelling. No difficult second novel here – unreservedly recommended to all.
About the author
Alison was brought up in the Yorkshire Dales by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh secondary schools and EFL in Finland and Switzerland, where she now lives. She spends her time reading, writing, travelling, playing with her grandchildren and attending crime writing festivals.