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Brenda Townsend Hall

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Necklace of Warm Snow
by Brenda Townsend Hall   

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Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1413704298 Type: 


Copyright:  November 2nd 2003

Barnes &
Publish America
Background to the novel

Set in France and England, the novel shows how wartime events exert their influence on two generations of a family. First published as an e-book, it won an EPPIE award in March 2003 for best inspirational novel. It is due to be published in print on November 2nd 2003 by Publish America.

Necklace of Warm Snow tells in parallel the stories of Alistair, a British agent in wartime France and his daughter, Hilary, a fifties child. Alistair meets and falls in love with a young Jewish woman, Lena, who is in hiding from the Paris round-ups of 1942. Alistair has left a girl-friend, Margaret, behind in London but realises that his love for Lena is much more profound. When he is pulled out of France after one of the people from a group he was working with is arrested, he has to leave Lena behind. Lena, pregnant with Alistair’s child, is arrested just before she is due to cross into Switzerland. She is never seen again.

After the War Margaret takes the forlorn Alistair under her wing and they marry and have two children, Hilary and Nicholas. It is a loveless marriage and Alistair retreats into a world of his own. He finds one more chance of happiness with his young mistress, Sarah. Then, finding that he is being made redundant from his job, he decides the moment of truth has arrived for them all. He wants to leave Margaret and live with Sarah, although Sarah, a very independent and up-and-coming artist feels unsure about the best course of action. Alistair decides to take his caravan and drive down to SW France to confront the ghosts of his past in order to be able to move on in his life. During this trip he is murdered.

Hilary’s adult life is blighted by her childhood in which her parents’ marriage was a battlefield. She lurches from one unsatisfactory relationship to another and feels increasingly resentful that her father was never really engaged with his children, blaming him for her failure to relate to men. Some years after the unsolved murder she helps her mother clear out his bureau and discovers some notes that he was preparing for a wartime memoir as well as a photo of Sarah. She embarks on a quest to find out more about her father. What she discovers leads to her solving the crime but, more importantly, to coming to understand herself and the direction her life must take.
Alistair was standing, revolver in hand, ready to crack it down on the person who was turning the handle to his door, on someone who had come soundlessly along the corridor despite the flagstones that amplified the slightest noise. He kicked the door shut behind his visitor, but then lowered his gun and grabbed her by the arm instead. Force was hardly necessary.

‘What's your name and what are you doing in my room?’ he motioned her to a chair by the escritoire.

‘My name is Lena.’

‘Why were you sneaking into my room?’

‘I heard you from the landing last night so I thought you'd be going out this morning. I wanted to find out a bit more about you. I'm forbidden to meet the other ‘guests’, but I've been here for months, I feel like a prisoner. When I knew someone else had come, I thought it might be someone who could help me, or at least give me some information.’

‘How did you get here?’ The sternness in Alistair's questions was softening each time he spoke. Lena looked close to tears and she was so slender and frail-looking, she hardly posed a threat.

‘I escaped from a round-up of Jews in Paris. A friend borrowed some travel documents for me and we managed to get to Montauban. First I stayed there with his family. Then they started hounding the Jews down here too. It was too dangerous for me and for them, so they hid me in a convent. I stayed there for a long time, but the nuns were mainly trying to shelter kids. They finally found me this place.’

Professional Reviews

Review from Denise's Pieces
Author: Laurel Johnson

Necklace of Warm Snow begins in France in 1942, during the Armistice. Alistair is the main character of this novel, a woman who works with the resistance. And at this time, the reader is brought into his secret world of espionage. The author takes the reader back and forth from the past to the present, introducing different characters of his story. Hilary, Alistair's daughter and her two ex-husbands; Andrew and Jonathan and a new love. Nick, Alistair's son and Margaret, his wife. Lena, the young Jewish girl who stole his heart, and Sarah, his present day mistress and mother of his son Alexander. Before the war Alistair was to marry Margaret, but they decided to wait until they saw what the future held. It was during Alistair's time in France that he met Lena, a young Jewish girl who was separated by her family and was being hidden by Dr. Leboulin. Dr. Leboulin, his wife and brother Michael helped the Jewish people and also the resistance. Alistair truly loved Lena, but had to leave her to complete a mission. But Lena was found and taken to a Concentration camp, where she died. Alistair ended up marrying Margaret but was never satisfied in his life. He withdrew into a world of his own, with his books and music. After losing his job and retiring, he decides to take a trip to France to put things in perspective and rest in his spirit. Here he is murdered and his daughter Hilary finds herself confronted with his past. She takes over the quest to put many questions to rest and to solve his murder. Alistair had never allowed himself to be close to his family and Hilary resented this fact, longed to know whom this man was that she called Father. Through her searching, Hilary learns what type of man Alistair really was. I believe the answer will delight you. This reader felt Necklace of Warm Snow, was a very good read and I recommend it to others. It is a story that has probably been replayed many times in others lives; even if it is never known by those around them. So many stories, never told!

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