I was delighted when Alison Baillie asked me to take part in the blog tour for her latest novel, “A Fractured Winter”. The cover of this book is stunning and I have to say it was the very picture in my mind when I was reading the book. A Fractured Winter is Alison’s second novel, her first one being “Sewing The Shadows Together” (You can read my review of this here)
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the blurb says:
A missing girl.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.
Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?
And what is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?
A twisty family mystery with a dark edge, where nothing is as it seems.
A Fractured Winter starts off in Switzerland in 2015 with Olivia receiving a letter that makes her think that someone is watching her. Someone knows about her past and why she left Scotland behind. This is quickly followed by the disappearance of her daughter’s best friend. Soon Olivia’s life is spiralling out of control, things are no longer as simple as they seemed and just who can she trust?
Alison Baillie has penned some mesmerizing imagery bring Switzerland to life in a vivid picture of small town life, isolated from the rest of the world. She created a claustrophobic and haunting picture of Olivia’s life. An almost “olde worlde” feeling enveloped the novel almost as though we were trapped in a land that time had forgotten. She painted a magical picture of Swiss life from the family traditions at Christmas; the delicious food and of course the echoes of the mountains. I really could picture it all in my head as I read.
The story is told in alternate chapters, the here and now in Switzerland with Olivia; the young and very vulnerable Marie being brought up in Scarborough to Edinburgh and the life of Lucy, a student at University who finds her life in turmoil. A Fractured Winter unravels the connections and brings them all together for the reader.
We have some fabulous characters all of whom will evoke strong feelings within you. Olivia was a difficult woman to engage with, she was easily manipulated by others. At times I found myself wanting to give her a good talking to and tell her to wake up to the 21st Century as her whole life revolved round making herself available for her husband and children in her aim to be the “perfect wife and mother”. Her husband, Christian, was so wrapped up in himself, he was intolerable and I am sure that had he been anymore uptight he would have exploded! As we learn more about Olivia it is easy to understand why she is so naive although her subservience made me quite frustrated at her at times! I don’t want to say too much about other characters incase I spoil it for you but just let say that Olivia finds herself embroiled in the lives of some very strange people!
Chilling in atmosphere and narrative this preys on every parent’s nightmare, a child going missing and that suffocating need to protect those closest to you. It explores the family dynamics from step families, secrets and lies and how they can destroy families to abusive and manipulative relationships. The alternate timelines intricately weaving their way through the narrative and drawing you deeper into the mystery. A Swiss lake full of red-herrings kept me guessing over the disappearance of Sandra and Olivia’s secret intrigued me throughout. It is a real tale of when past and present collide.
Check out what the other bloggers have been saying:
A Fractured Winter is available to purchase from:
About Alison Baillie
ALISON BAILLIE was brought up in Ilkley, Yorkshire by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh secondary schools and EFL in Finland and Switzerland. Now she spends her time reading, writing, travelling, playing with her granddaughter and attending crime writing festivals.