SUMMARY (from Goodreads): The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson's case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. He stumbles through woods, emerging in a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.
The Winter Ghosts is an overwhelming book. Kate Mosse masterfully recreates historical periods. Her beautiful language puts the reader right into the place and time it describes. Mosse’s writing makes you feel as if you were there, walking side by side with Freddie, seeing what he sees, hearing what he hears, and feeling what he feels.
Freddie is too young to have participated in The Great War, but it takes its toll on him anyway. In the late 1920s when everyone wants to forget and move on, he cannot do so. He is unable to get over his brother’s death. Nobody understands his grief, his holding on to the past. Freddie is restless, desperately clinging to his brother’s shadow, incapable of facing life as other people do. His situation is the most painful of all, because he is, in his own words, terrified to remember and to forget at the same time.
Then Freddie arrives to the French Pyrenees and immediately senses this world is closer to his heart than any other place. Mosse gives vivid descriptions of natural scenery and the sad, mysterious atmosphere hanging over the land. In this environment where the past mixes with the present, Freddie meets Fabrissa. As she is the only one who can understand his sorrow, he is the only one who can understand her. Freddie, who walks a thin line between his own past and present, is the only one susceptible enough to uncover the tragic secret of her past and help Fabrissa and her people find their peace.
I could not put this book down. I really enjoyed the combination of two historical periods, the lifelike depictions of the surroundings, and the ever-suspenseful hints at something beyond human perception.
RECOMMENDATION: The Winter Ghosts is a breath-taking book about sorrow and love. Everybody who likes to read about history and its secrets would definitely enjoy it.