Wintersmoon Never Catches Fire

Hugh Walpole’s Wintersmoon turns the romance novel on its head.

Janet Grandison and Wildherne Poole marry for companionship and convenience. Love isn’t part of the arrangement. Janet wants to give her sister Rosalind a home; Wildherne wants an heir to his title and estate that the married woman he loves can’t give him.

Nothing goes according to plan.

Rosalind and Wildherne can’t stand each other. She marries a man she doesn’t love to get out of living at Wintersmoon.

Janet gets on the wrong side of Wildherne’s mother and her entourage. Then she finds herself in love with her husband and pregnant with his child.

Wildherne has grown to love Janet as well, but neither says anything because they agreed to a loveless marriage. Their son’s death brings their marriage to a crisis that has far-reaching repercussions.

The plot is predictable. Walpole’s characters are not. They are very distinct personalities. I didn’t like Janet or Wildherne, but they won my respect by novel’s end. Walpole’s minor characters are well-drawn, the minor scenes extraordinarily realistic.

Selfishness masquerades as love throughout the novel, causing no end of problems, just as it does in real life.

Sadly, all Wintersmoon‘s fine points don’t add up to a great novel.

by Hugh Walpole
Grosset & Dunlap, 1927
446 pages
#2 1928
My grade: C-
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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