Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winter Shadows by Margaret Buffie

Winter Shadows, by Margaret Buffie, 2010.  
Connected by family, situation, and location, Cass and Beatrice find and help each other across the space of 150 years.  Both girls have lost their mothers, and are struggling with a new stepmother, and the loss of their secure place in the family home.  It is the beginning of winter in Canada, a few weeks before Christmas, and the holiday brings troubles to a boil for both girls.  Fortunately, Cass and Beatrice both receive support from other family members, from each other across time, and from budding romances.  Beatrice has her Cree grandmother and lives during a time of frontier and social integration, and Cass who lives in the present time has her mother's sister nearby.  This book is a little predictable but is very enjoyable on many levels particularly for the historical information that is interwoven through the story about the life of the people living in Canada during the 19th century.  There are many Cree Indian words sprinkled throughout the book with a glossary at the back.  Though I could guess that everything would resolve positively I still wanted to know who Beatrice finally marries, and whether life at home improves for sassy Cass.
My rating 3 and a half stars.

Books by Margaret Buffie available through the Library's online catalog.
Margaret Buffie's website.


  1. If you didn't know who Beatrice was going to marry, or if Cass's life was going to improve until you got to the end, then how can you say the book was predictable? Doesn't make sense.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    Did you read "Winter Shadows"?
    Were you surprised by how things resolved for Beatrice and Cass?
    There were some clues about how things would turn out for Beatrice, because of Cass, so it was not surprising (to me) that she finally chose to marry Duncan instead of Robert, i.e. if she had married Robert, Cass would not exist. So, though I could predict that Beatrice would not marry Robert, I wasn't sure about Duncan. Does that make sense?
    As for Cass, she had people who cared about her and were helping her navigate a difficult time. It just seemed obvious that her difficulties would resolve positively.
    Essentially a predictable story, yet worth sticking with to the end.

  3. Using a more famous writer as an example: what you said about "predictability" would be like criticizing Jane Austen's book for their predictable endings. And, of course, they ARE predictable - but so what? What would be the point of using it as a criticism? Her books are not mysteries, after all. It's the JOURNEY through her stories that holds us to the end. Winter Shadows and other books that deal with family issues, love and life are much the same.

    If you wrote a book about a child being bullied in school and did not offer a resolution of some kind for the child involved -- of course, it would be "unpredictable" (and a surprise!) but you'd have frustrated readers and what would be the point of a "journey" like this without a fairly predictable resolution?

    In Winter Shadows, Cass does not have an entirely happy ending regarding her family problems - but there is a kind of cease fire - a resolution. And for Beatrice, why wouldn't the reader cheer at the end that she finds happiness at last? I give this novel 5 stars. The journey was really worth it.

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