published in 1995,
Winner of the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction
A Spell of Winter is set during the early years of the twentieth century, during the period before, during and immediately after the First World War.
Catherine and her brother Rob do not understand why they have been abandoned by both their parents, or know where their mother has gone. They are brought up by servants in the house of their grandfather, an Irishman who made his fortune somehow and is known in the neighbourhood as ‘the man from nowhere’. The children cling to each other because they have no-one else, but when they grow up their sibling love becomes incestuous. As the world outside moves towards war, Catherine and Rob are trapped in their own conflict. But little by little, the spell of winter that has held Catherine begins to break, and she starts to free herself from the weight of the past.