Desert Isle Keeper
The Sound of Snow
The Sound of Snow is as lovely a story as its name. It is a timeless tale of the miracle of true love which conquers all, heals all, and makes all new again. Add interesting characters, unexpected plot twists, and a touch of the supernatural, and the result is a memorable, feel-good read.
Joanna Carew has lived with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, Lydia, since the death of her parents. Joanna is three years older than Lydia and looks enough like her to be her sister, but is totally unlike her in temperament. Joanna is a serious artist, down-to-earth, without social ambition, and far too honest to succeed with the ton. In contrast, Lydia is childish, shallow, and completely self-centered. As the story opens, an elaborate party is being thrown by Lydia’s parents in honor of Lydia’s eighteenth birthday and Joanna’s twenty-first. That night Joanna’s reputation is forever ruined when an amorous suitor sneaks into her room and is discovered by Lydia before Joanna can throw him out. Joanna opts to leave the country rather than be forced into a loveless marriage with the man who compromised her, so she moves to a small villa in Italy where she later marries an Italian count, and is subsequently widowed.
In the meantime, Lydia has married a marquess, Guy de Salis, whom she paints as a monster in letters to Joanna. They have a son, Miles, and Lydia begs Joanna to look after the boy if anything ever happens to her. When Joanna is notified of Lydia’s death a full year after the fact, she immediately travels to Guy’s home, Wakefield Abbey, to visit five year-old Miles. There she finds Guy away from home, as he has been most of the year following his wife’s death, and the boy in the care of an abusive nanny, emotionally damaged almost beyond hope of recovery.
Guy is unnerved to return home to a woman who so closely resembles his dead wife he mistakes her for a ghost at their first meeting, and a son who is withdrawn and unresponsive. He immediately dismisses the horrible nanny, and in desperation, asks Joanna to stay on as governess. Joanna has heard nothing but bad of Guy de Salis, and Guy has heard little better of Joanna, so theirs is initially a strained relationship held together only by concern for the child and a bit of divine intervention.
Joanna is a wonderful heroine. She is intelligent, loving, sensitive, spirited, and possesses a touching faith in God. Guy is just as appealing a hero despite being in his own way almost as damaged as his son. He has dark secrets which undeniably affect him, but still acts with intelligence, compassion, confidence, and humor. Katherine Kingsley sketches in the secondary characters with great skill. They are distinct personalities, but never compete for the center of the stage.
The tension in this tale is subtle, yet present. Philosophical insights are offered by various characters from time to time that are beautiful and thought-provoking, such as the passage from which the book’s title is taken. At times I feared the author would resort to one of the worn-out formulaic plot turns (like the Big Misunderstanding) to keep the story going, but each time she sidesteps the trap. There is a wonderful balance between internal and external conflict that keeps the story consistent and going strong right to the end.
I found little to criticize in this book. Guy’s dark secret seemed a bit anticlimactic, and did not seem to be enough to throw a strong character like Guy as thoroughly as it did. Lydia’s actions also did not seem to be completely explained by just labeling her as immature and jealous. But these are minor complaints in a book that otherwise shines.