A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor:  A gripping and emotion-packed, cross-generational saga that was just made for the long, cold nights - book review -

A Midwinter Promise
A Midwinter Promise
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A lonely and imaginative child, Julia Teague loves Tawray, her family’s beautiful and wild Cornish home, with all her heart. But, scarred by her mother’s doomed struggle to bear more children, she enters her adult years determined to leave her home and seek a new beginning in London.

A grand old Cornish house, a fractured family, and dark secrets from the past…

Lulu Taylor, queen of a string of classic winter-warming novels like The Snow Rose, The Winter Secret and Her Frozen Heart, dishes up all those favourite reading ingredients for a gripping and emotion-packed, cross-generational saga that was just made for the long, cold nights.

Filled with this perceptive writer’s acute observation of fragile family relationships, beautifully drawn characters, and love-soaked drama, A Midwinter Promise explores the corrosive and lingering legacy of loss, grief, despair, and long-buried truths.

A lonely and imaginative child, Julia Teague loves Tawray, her family’s beautiful and wild Cornish home, with all her heart. But, scarred by her mother’s doomed struggle to bear more children, she enters her adult years determined to leave her home and seek a new beginning in London.

It’s there in the 1970s that she meets the handsome David Pengelly who is in royal service as aide to the most glamorous couple in the land. Julia and David fall madly in love, but when Julia becomes pregnant, even he can’t stop the terrible echoes of the past that are still ringing in her ears. The only sound to be heard above the noise and confusion is the old house in Cornwall, calling her home.

Decades later, Julia’s adult children, Alex and Johnnie, have still not unearthed the history of their family hidden behind the walls of Tawray. For daughter Alex, now the mother of two young girls, the house is full of memories of her late mother and she is still tied to it by ‘invisible ropes of love and longing.’

But Johnnie is bitter; angry that the house that should have been rightfully theirs after Julia died has instead been stolen from them. Their stepmother Sally, who always put her own son before Alex and Johnnie, wanted it gone, and their father agreed to the recent sale.

And now their father is dying from a devastating stroke in a hospital bed, and time is running out for Alex and Johnnie to uncover the secrets of what happened to their mother all those years ago. Can they discover the truth before the house closes its doors to them forever?

Taylor’s absorbing – and often heartbreaking – novel weaves seamlessly between the lives of the two Pengelly generations as the truth of a marriage marred by terrible trauma, and shocking secrets involving infidelity, death and divorce, are slowly revealed.

At the centre of the story is the eternal draw of Tawray, nestling in its wild and wonderful Cornish landscape… a house that holds bittersweet memories for the children who grew up there, and a place that also bore witness to adult suffering and joy.

Turbo-powered by emotion, angst and drama, and with twists in its tail, this is a story that resonates long after the last page has turned.

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)