The Winter Ghosts

The Winter Ghosts

by Kate Mosse


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Sepulchre and Labyrinth-a compelling story of love, ghosts and remembrance.


World War I robbed England and France of an entire generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson's case, the battlefields took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution, Freddie is travelling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Freezing and dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries, and discovered his own role in the life of this old remote town.

By turns thrilling, poignant, and haunting, this is a story of two lives touched by war and transformed by courage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399157158
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 02/03/2011
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kate Mosse is the author of the New York Times bestselling Labyrinth and Sepulchre and the Co-founder and Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in England and France.

Read an Excerpt

La Rue des Pénitents Gris

He walked like a man recently returned to the world. Every step was careful, deliberate. Every step to be relished.

He was tall and clean shaven, a little thin perhaps. Dressed by Savile Row. A light woolen suit of herringbone weave, the jacket wide on the shoulders and narrow at the waist. His fawn gloves matched his Trilby. He looked like an Englishman, secure in his right to be on such a street, on such a pleasant afternoon in spring.

But nothing is what it seems.

For every step was a little too careful, too deliberate, as if he were unwilling to take even the ground beneath his feet entirely for granted. And as he walked, his clever, quick eyes darted from side to side, as if he were determined to record every tiny detail.

Toulouse was considered one of the most beautiful cities in the south of France. Certainly Freddie admired it. The elegance of its nineteenth-century buildings, the medieval past that slept beneath the pavements and colonnades, the bell towers and cloisters of Saint-Étienne, the bold river dividing the city in two. The pink brick façades, blushing in the April sunshine, gave Toulouse its affectionate nickname la ville rose. Little had changed since Freddie had last visited, at the tail end of the 1920s. He had been another man then, a tattered man, worn threadbare by grief.

Things were different now.

In his right hand, Freddie carried directions scribbled on the back of a napkin from Bibent, where he'd lunched on filet mignon and a blowsy Bordeaux. In his left-hand breast pocket, he carried a letter patterned with antiquity and dust. It was this—and the fact that, at last, he had the opportunity to return—that brought him back to Toulouse today. The mountains where he'd come across the document had some strong significance for him, and though he had never read the letter, it was precious to him.

Freddie crossed the Place du Capitole, heading toward the cathedral of Saint-Sernin. He walked through a network of small streets, obtuse little alleyways filled with jazz bars and poetry cellars and gloomy restaurants. He sidestepped couples on the pavement, lovers and families and friends, out enjoying the warm afternoon. He passed through tiny squares and hidden ruelles, and along the Rue du Taur, until he reached the street he was looking for. Freddie hesitated a moment at the corner, as if having second thoughts. Then he continued on, walking briskly now, dragging his shadow behind him.

Halfway along the Rue des Pénitents Gris was a librairie and antiquarian bookseller. His destination. He stopped dead to read the name of the proprietor painted in black lettering above the door. Momentarily, his silhouette was imprinted on the building. Then he shifted position and the window was once more flooded with gentle, yellow sunlight, causing the metal grille to glint.

Freddie stared at the display for a moment, at the antique volumes embossed with gold leaf and the highly polished leather slip casings of black and red, at the ridged spines of works by Montaigne and Anatole France and Maupassant. Other, less familiar names, too, Antonin Gadal and Félix Garrigou, and volumes of ghost stories by Blackwood and James and Sheridan LeFanu.

"Now or never," he said.

The old-fashioned handle was stiff and the door dug in its heels as Freddie pushed it open. A brass bell rattled somewhere distant at the back of the shop. The coarse rush matting sighed beneath the soles of his shoes as he stepped in.

"Il y a quelqu'un?" he said in clipped French. "Anybody about?"

The contrast between the brightness outside and the patchwork of shadows within made Freddie blink. But there was a pleasing smell of dust and afternoons, glue and paper and polished wooden shelves. Particles of dust danced in and out of the beams of slatted sunlight. He was sure now that he had come to the right place and he felt something unwind inside him. Relief that he had finally made it here, perhaps, or of being at his journey's end.

Freddie took off his hat and gloves and placed them on the long wooden counter. Then he reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and brought out the small pasteboard wallet.

"Hello," he called a second time. "Monsieur Saurat?"

He heard footsteps, then the creak of the hinges of the small door at the back of the shop, and a man walked through. Freddie's first impression was of flesh, rolls of skin at the neck and wrists, a smooth and unlined face beneath a shock of white hair. He did not, in any way, look like the medieval scholar that Freddie was expecting.

"Monsieur Saurat?"

The man nodded. Cautious, bored, uninterested in a casual caller.

"I need help with a translation," Freddie said, pushing the wallet across the counter. "I was told you might be the man for such a job."

Keeping his eyes on Saurat, Freddie carefully slipped the letter out from its casing. It was a heavy weave, the color of dirty chalk, not paper at all, but something far older. The handwriting was uneven and scratched.

Saurat let his gaze slip to the letter. Freddie watched his eyes sharpen, first with surprise, then astonishment. Then greed.

"May I?"

"Be my guest."

Taking a pair of half-moon spectacles from his top pocket, Saurat perched them on the end of his nose. He produced a pair of thin, linen gloves from beneath the counter, pulled them on. Holding the letter gently at the corner between forefinger and thumb, he held it up to the light.

"Parchment. Probably late medieval."

"Quite right."

"Written in Occitan, the old language of this region."

"Yes." All this Freddie knew.

Saurat gave him a hard look, then dropped his eyes back to the letter. An intake of breath, then he began to read the opening lines out loud. His voice was surprisingly light.

"Bones and shadows and dust. I am the last. The others have slipped away into darkness. Around me now, at the end of my days, only an echo in the still air of the memory of those who once I loved.

Solitude, silence. Peyre sant . . ."

Saurat stopped and stared now with interest at the reserved Englishman standing before him. He did not look like a collector, but then one never could tell.

He cleared his throat. "May I ask where you came by this, monsieur . . .? "

"Watson." Freddie took his card from his pocket and laid it with a snap on the counter between them. "Frederick Watson."

"You are aware this is a document of some historical significance?"

"To me its significance is purely personal."

"That may be, but nevertheless…;" Saurat shrugged. "It is something that has been in your family for some time?"

Freddie hesitated. "Is there somewhere we could talk?"

"Of course." Saurat gestured to a low card table and four leather armchairs set in an alcove at the rear of the shop. "Please."

Freddie took the letter and sat down, watching as Saurat stooped beneath the counter again, this time producing two thick glass tumblers and a bottle of mellow, golden brandy. He was unusually graceful, delicate even, Freddie thought, for such a large man. Saurat poured them both a generous measure, then lowered himself into the chair opposite. The leather sighed beneath his weight.

"So can you translate it for me?"

"Of course. But I am still intrigued to know how you come to be in possession of such a document."

"It's a long story."

The same half shrug. "I have the time."

Freddie leaned forward and slowly fanned his long fingers across the surface of the table, making patterns on the green baize.

"Tell me, Saurat, do you believe in ghosts?"

A smile slipped across the other man's lips.

"I am listening."

Freddie breathed out, with relief or some other emotion, it was hard to tell.

"Well then," he said, settling back in his chair. "The story begins some five years ago, not so very far from here."

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The Winter Ghosts 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Over a decade ago in WWI George Watson vanished while serving on the Western Front. His younger brother Freddie has not been able to move on having found no closure. His grief so great, Freddie spent time in an asylum. Ten years have passed since the Armistice ended the combat. Freddie works for the War Grave Commission which enables him to seek clues to his sibling. He drives a motorcar in the French Pyrenees still seeking solace. During a snowstorm, he crashes his vehicle near the remote village of Nulle. At the small mountainous hamlet Freddie meets Fabrissa. That evening, Fabrissa tells him her tale of harassment and death. The next day, Freddie cannot find Fabrissa, but his inquiries for her lead him to a six century old mystery. The Winter Ghosts is a fascinating 1928 tale of two individuals who come together for one night; each seeking solace over what was lost of their respective souls due to war. The story line starts extremely slow as Kate Mosse takes her time to set time, place and Freddie's angst. Still readers will enjoy the cost of war still being paid by survivors years, even centuries, after the hostilities end. Harriet Klausner
KatZombie More than 1 year ago
‘’The dead leave their shadows, an echo of the space within which once they lived. They haunt us, never fading or growing older as we do. The loss we grieve is not just their futures, but our own’’ I brought The Winter Ghosts as one of my first ever e-books nearly two years ago, so I’ve no idea why I even choose it – I think because it sounded like a sad and intense story, set in France, which has always held a fascination for me. The Winter Ghosts is a slow story, but it is the type of story that should be. The descriptions of regional France and the thoughts and feelings of the main character, Frederick, are beautifully told, with great detail and atmosphere. It’s not a scary ghost story, it’s a melancholy ghost story, with some sad moments and a sense of history and mystery thrown in for good measure. The illustrations throughout the book are perfectly matched to the tone, and add an extra dimension. I really enjoyed this book – it’s not action packed, but reads quickly and engrossingly, with beautiful writing.
Alec Caudell More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I anticipated at all. Too short and too predictable, not worth the $$$.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though this book takes place in the past it's message is ageless. This book is about the horrors human beings suffer and ultimately the survival of the spirt. It is educational and inspirational. I would recommend it to anyone but especially to someone dealing with grief.
Deb Burke More than 1 year ago
Kate Mosse has quickly become one of my favorite authors and Winter Ghosts is a book I cannot wait to re-read.
moosenoose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Winter Ghosts is the extended version of Mosse¿s previous book The Cave and is a traditional ghost story set in the Ari¿ge region of France, shortly after the end of the first World War. Being a short and traditional story, the plot line is easy to follow with no great surprises or bumps in the night to scare the reader. It is more about love, loss and acceptance, although I felt that the main character, Freddie, was slightly naïve in not being able to determine the difference between the living and the dead so easily, which did spoil the book a little. Overall though this is an easy read and an enjoyable little book. It doesn¿t live up to Mosse¿s previous books Labyrinth and Sepulchre, which are two favourites of mine, but then I don¿t believe it is meant to. Although set in the same area of the world, this is a completely different tale and a good book to read on a wet, winters weekend in front of the fire. I would say however, that the very short section at the end of this edition of the book, featuring Freddie¿s brother George, didn¿t seem to live up to the rest of the tale and the dates quoted were incorrect. Although the author has tried to explain this, it doesn¿t seem to gel with the story. Maybe if it had been written with regards to Freddie¿s father, it would have seemed more real.
Eyejaybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is set fairly and squarely in Mosseland, and as one might expect, involves a crossover between more recent times (in this instance the early twentieth century rather than completely contemporary) and medieval history.The greater part of story is narrated by Freddie Watson, a psychologically fragile Englishman touring southern France in December 1928, still beset by grief over the loss of his elder brother in the First World War. Watson wanders into the foothills of the Pyrenees in a blizzard and crashes his yellow Austin car. After managing to extricate himself from the wreckage he wanders across the hills to the seemingly deserted village of Nulle where he manages to secure a room in a quiet inn where the residents are preparing for a traditional festival.Here Freddie meets a beautiful local girl with estrange story to tell.Mosse handles her material very adeptly and u terry convincingly, and I found myself utterly engrossed, to the extent that I finished the book at one sitting, and then felt disappointed because I wanted to read more.
litaddictedbrit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the face of it, this is a great ghost story - were it not sent in rural France, I would have said it had a rather gothic feel to it. A lone man roaming through the wilderness after a car crash in a blizzard, stumbles upon an eerily quiet village before finding a guest house and realising that everything is not as it seems...Had it been nothing more, it would be great. As it happens, it was even better! At less than 250 pages, I expected either a quick-fire story or a character study. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel actually managing, for the most part, to provide both! The story, as I said, has a very quaint feel about it - rural France has the most idyllic villages and Mosse's descriptions are perfect! Every smudge of dust, every dagger of ice and every whiff of liquer is captured with just the right amount of detail. There isn't anything complicated about the way that Mosse writes - she just seems to know how every moment should be described without grandeur or pretence. And yet every reader knows that even the best descriptions won't carry a story by themselves. The characters and themes, fortunately, live up to the setting. The story is set in both 1928 and 1933 and is told from the perspective of Freddie. Freddie is a touchingly vulnerable Englishman struggling to cope with life after World War I and the death of his older brother, an Englishman like many others of the time trying to bear the unbearable. He is, perhaps, a victim of his own 'English-ness'. One thing I think we're still stereotyped for (although I can't be sure) is our repressed emotions. Freddie is never allowed to show his grief but is supposed to just bury it and live on. Like the novel says:"He walked like a man recently returned to the world. Every step was careful, deliberate. Every step to be relished....But nothing is as it seems.For every step was a little too careful, a little too deliberate, as if he were unwilling to take even the ground beneath his feet for granted"So even as a ghost story, this book isn't all that it seems. Because underneath the mystery, the snow and the voices on the wind is a man who so desperately needs someone to prove to him that he's worthy of love, worthy of anything, that he doggedly pursues shadows 700 years old...and therein lies the story!And there isn't really much more to say - just that you should read it before the Spring comes and the snow passes on and takes away the perfect atmosphere for reading this book.
soliloquies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lovely writing as ever, but this was a nowhere book. There didn't really seem to be any reason for writing it. That may sound harsh, but I was expecting so much more having loved her previous books.
eas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent three and a half hour read! A light book but enthralling, despite being able to guess the end from almost the beginning (but then I am very familiar with tales of the Cathars).Set in the Ari¿ge region of France, nearly a decade after the end of the first World War, the main character Freddie - still desperately struggling to come to terms with the death on the battlefields of France of his beloved older brother George - ends up in an isolated village in Haute Vallee of the Pyrenees.In Nulle it is the Feast of St. Stephen. Freddie is invited to the celebrations and, though still reeling from a near-death car accident and the unsettlingly strange sights and sounds he experienced on his desperate scramble through the dark mountain forests down to the village, he decides to accept. Here, at the antique celebration of the festival he meets the lovely Fabrissa to whom he finds he can bear his soul and unburden his heart of the terrible feelings of loss he has suffered alone now for so many, many years.The Winter Ghosts purports to be a ghost story and I suppose on the surface it is. However, it is more than that .... the telling of the historic end of the Cathars in southern France. The book is about extreme melancholia: the pain and anguish and constant torment of grief not understood. It is through the horror of Fabrissa¿s story that Freddie is transformed. By his experience in Nulle he at last finds the ability to embrace life rather than dwell among those who have died.
katlb82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
`¿The dead leave their shadows, an echo of the space within which once they lived. They haunt us, never fading or growing older as we do. The loss we grieve is not just their futures, but our own¿¿ I brought The Winter Ghosts as one of my first ever e-books nearly two years ago, so I¿ve no idea why I even choose it ¿ I think because it sounded like a sad and intense story, set in France, which has always held a fascination for me. The Winter Ghosts is a slow story, but it is the type of story that should be. The descriptions of regional France and the thoughts and feelings of the main character, Frederick, are beautifully told, with great detail and atmosphere. It¿s not a scary ghost story, it¿s a melancholy ghost story, with some sad moments and a sense of history and mystery thrown in for good measure. The illustrations throughout the book are perfectly matched to the tone, and add an extra dimension. I really enjoyed this book ¿ it¿s not action packed, but reads quickly and engrossingly, with beautiful writing.
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the tale of a man named Freddie who, while driving alone at night in 1928 France, gets into a car accident after he hears strange voices in the wind. In a small town nearby, a kindly woman agrees to let him stay at her inn and recover. Freddie is still mourning the loss of his brother Henry, who died years ago in World War I. Everyone else seems to have moved on and gotten over the war's tragedies, but Freddie simply cannot. When making his way to an event in town one foggy night, Freddie takes a few wrong turns and finds himself at a strange party, where he meets an intriguing, beautiful girl named Fabrissa. The two instantly develop a strong bond, but Freddie soon begins to fear that Fabrissa and her past are not at all what they seem.This book was breezily written, and I got through it quickly. I enjoyed it, though there was certainly nothing great about it. Kate Mosse has a very pretty way of writing, and I loved her style. Her prose is excellent, and suits itself to the fairytale type of writing perfectly. I only wish that the rest of her book followed so gracefully. The book seemed quite childish to me, and not in a good way - in an unrealistic, raised-eyebrows sort of way. Things happened that I found very improbable and unexplained. Freddie, the main character, was not one that I understood. He is still grieving for his brother Henry as if he had only passed away yesterday. Alright, but why? What is behind this? And how close of a bond did he have with his brother before the war began? The author never gives us any history whatsoever into the brother's relationship, which made Freddie come across to me as more of a psychotic boy with separation issues than a character I could sympathize with. Mosse's many descriptions of pain, of loss, and of the grief of missing someone were written beautifully, but without the power behind it, they were only pretty words that lacked depth.Fabrissa is the only other character of major importance. She is introduced to us as stunningly beautiful, extremely perceptive, and mysterious. She seemed very intriguing, but she too lacked any depth or reality. Of course I knew her secret (or at least most of it) right from the beginning, but it still failed to make me warm to her. Freddie and Fabrissa's meeting annoyed me. He basically falls in love with her at first sight, something that nearly always earns an eye roll from me. Only a few books have ever pulled that off, in my opinion, and this certainly isn't one of them. Within literally five minutes of first setting eyes upon each other, Freddie and Fabrissa are intimately discussing extremely personal details, and exchanging philosophies on loss, death, and other such things. It seemed HIGHLY forced to me.About half an hour later, they are sitting alone in the snow and have now shared each other's life stories. They basically now know everything about each other and are (of course) hopelessly in love. Well, it's about time! Half an hour, gosh, no need to take things so slowly...Freddie tells Fabrissa that he has "never met anyone else like you." After this, however, he wakes up and is told by everyone that he never even went out last night. No one seems to know what party he is talking about, and no one has ever heard of anyone named Fabrissa. Is he crazy? I thought that this part of the book was interesting, waiting to see what Freddie would do and how he would come to a conclusion about this question.But the conclusion wasn't exactly satisfactory. Once again, everything felt entirely forced. Freddie goes back to his crashed car with a few other men to help. Once he gets there, he becomes convinced that Fabrissa is somewhere nearby. He convinces the other men to leave. And this is in freezing snow - and they would really just leave him? When they were saying that very day that he was not right in the head (more delicately, of course)? I don't think so.Freddie even assures them that if he gets too cold, he'll just wait in the car to
justabookreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿ve wanted to read a Kate Mosse novel for a while now. Why I haven¿t picked one up earlier is a mystery to me. Fortunately, I had this book with me on a business trip and found myself so entangled with the story that my flight being delayed over and over again didn¿t have the slightest impact. Freddie Watson is a troubled person. Still badly grieving the loss of his brother during WWII, he conjures up memories of his brother and talks to him for comfort when the pain gets too bad. A stay in a mental institution hasn¿t done much except to convince him he¿s damaged. In an attempt to find peace and quiet, and possibly a break from the ghosts that surround his life, Freddie takes a trip through the French Pyrenees and while driving through a blinding snow storm, he crashes his car. Not badly hurt, he finds his way to a small mountain town where an inn keeper is willing to take him in. She offers him a room, dry clothes, and the opportunity for a bit of socializing as the town will be hosting a celebration that night. In an uncharacteristic attempt at fun, Freddie decides to go to the event but gets lost on the way. He finally makes it and is seated next to a beautiful woman he falls instantly in love with. After speaking to her all night and releasing a few of his tightly held stories about his brother and how he¿s obsessed with his death, a fight takes place at the dinner and he runs away to the hills with her. When Freddie is found the next morning, all he wants is to find the woman he met at the dinner but a fever soon makes his searching impossible and he¿s forced back to the inn. In a daze, he struggles to understand what happened to him and whether or not the woman he met was even real as no one seems to believe him. There¿s a strange coldness to this story and it¿s not that it takes place during winter in the Pyrenees. Freddie is hurting so much he turns himself off from life and when he finally finds something to make him happy, he finds out the woman he has fallen for is most likely a ghost or possibly even a figment of his imagination. Is he slipping back into the depths of his mental problems or has he found something no one else knew existed? I won¿t say more because I don¿t want to ruin it if you plan to read this one. I will say I enjoyed it immensely and not just because my flight was delayed. It was a thoroughly engrossing book.
RocknRain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having previously read and absolutely loved Kate Mosse's Labyrinth and Sepulchure I think maybe my expectations were too high for this book. I found the story very predictable and didn't feel it had much point, except that of addressing the issue of the main characters grief. Its definitely a quick read, and it certainly needn't have been any longer. However, on a positive note it was well written and i cant take away from the Kate Mosse's talent for words.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
*I received this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers*Similarly themed as Kate Mosse's other novels, The Winter Ghosts is full of Cathars, haunted characters, connections between different time periods, and a touch of the fanciful. The central character, Freddie, still grieves for the lose of his brother during World War I and when he travels through France his adventures lead him to an encounter with a mysterious woman named Fabrissa, a mountainous cave, and a town in the shadow of death. I liked this novel well enough, but I think I would have struggled to understand it had I not recently read another of the author's novels. I would recommend The Winter Ghosts to those who have enjoyed other works by Kate Mosse, but not necessarily to anyone else.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first quarter of this novel...zzzzzzz. What a bad start. We meet Freddie. He has spent time in the looney bin and it's not surprising. When he was a young boy, his older brother went off to fight in the Great War and died. For some reason, ten years later, TEN YEARS.. Freddie can't get over it. He still sees George. He thinks about George constantly. Every other page has a George thought, witticism, or memory. Are you sick of hearing about George yet? I got sick of reading George this, George that. He's been dead ten years already!Okay, the book finally gets interesting when Freddie wrecks his car. No, unfortunately, he didn't die. He goes to a village and meets a lady who has a very intriguing and sad tale to share. I liked that, but even then, what does Freddie do? Brings up George again.A miss for me.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: He walked like a man recently returned to the world.It is 1928, and Freddie is still mourning the death of his older brother in World War I. Traveling as a way to both learn and escape, he finds himself high in the French Pyrenees. He loses control of his car in a snowstorm and is forced to walk through the woods until he finds a small village where he can take refuge until his car is repaired.Invited to a village celebration, Freddie meets the beautiful and ethereal Fabrissa who is also mourning the loss of loved ones. During the course of the night, Freddie and Fabrissa share their stories, and when dawn breaks, Freddie not only uncovers an ancient mystery, he also discovers his own role in the life of this remote village.Having previously read Mosse's other two novels, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, I expected an engrossing tale densely layered with the atmosphere and history of the French Pyrenees. I was not disappointed. Almost from the moment Freddie stepped foot in the quiet, tiny village, the hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle. He was a young man so in need of being rescued-- and of being the rescuer-- that I couldn't help but keep my fingers crossed as he navigated the streets of an ancient place where nothing was really as it seemed to be.The only quibble I have with this book is that, at one third the size of her previous two novels, I felt a bit cheated. The marvelous atmosphere had time to build only so far before the tale was finished, and my unease allowed to melt away like wisps of fog. If the book hadn't felt so rushed, I would now be waving it around in the air exclaiming, "You've gotta read this!"
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ten years after his brother, George, is killed in WWI, Freddie is still obsessing over him and his death. Entertaining thoughts of suicide, he travels alone to the Pyrenees, crashes his car, and ends up in a sad, isolated village. He meets a woman whom he instantly loves, and listens to her very disturbing story.Yes, this ghost story has ghosts, a definite plus in my book. I don't understand Freddie's obsession with his brother, an obsession that causes him to be institutionalized. Yes, his parents were cold and distant. Yes, they loved George more than they loved Freddie. Yes, life is not fair. But come on, Freddie, get over it already. The obsession got old fast. And it was just a little creepy, creepier than the ghosts.I might have rated this book more highly if my expectations had been lower, but I have liked Kate Mosse's writing in the past. I really enjoyed her Labyrinth and liked Sepulchre. Those were both fairly hefty books, with enough twists and turns to keep me entertained. This very short book felt more like an expanded short story than a novel. There wasn't the depth or complexity that I expected. I did enjoy the last 25 or so pages, thought those more interesting than the earlier part of the book. Still, if you want to read a Mosse book, I'd suggest you not start with this one.I was given a copy of this book by the publisher through LibraryThing.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Frederick is a young Englishman, still grieving over the loss of his older brother in World War One ten years previously. One night, while he is travelling alone and aimlessly in France, he gets caught in a blizzard in the Pyrenees and crashes his car. Injured and disoriented, he stumbles through the forest to the small village of Nulle. He is taken in at the local inn, and at a festival that evening, meets the hauntingly beautiful Fabrissa. She encourages him to talk about his brother, and by the time morning comes, they have each shared their tales of tragedy and sorrow. But when Frederick wakes the next day, no one in town has ever heard of Fabrissa, and he finds himself caught up in a mystery that spans centuries.Review: This would have been an excellent short story, or a wonderful novella. As a full-blown novel, however, it's pretty thin on the plot. It doesn't help that the plot is predictable as hell to anyone who has ever read a ghost story (or Ray Bradbury's "The Night Meeting") before; I more-or-less knew what was going on in Nulle practically before Freddie even enters the town. However, even though it's a theme that has been done many, many times before, Mosse renders the details of her version exquisitely well. She conjures the atmosphere of the quiet French mountain town with ease, and slips in a number of story and character elements that are poignant and haunting by turns. This was a much faster read than the page count might suggest; at least in the ARC version, the margins and the font were both huge. In order for it to be satisfying as a novel, it needed some additional complexity of plot, character, or storyline. However, I do admire the elegance of a simple story told well, and I think that this book might be better served by paring it down to a shorter length, and not trying to pass it off as something more than it is. 3.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Fans of Mosse's earlier books will enjoy this one as well, as will those who are interested in a good ghost story with a bit of a historical and romantic twist.
Letter4No1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Freddie is haunted by the memory of his brother George, who lost his life during World War I. After years of sadness and a brief stint in a sanitarium Freddie journey's around France. When a snow storm leaves him with a broken car and lost in the mountains he winds up in the village of Nulle, Freddie finds a girl with a similar past who leads him to a monumental historical discovery.The Winter Ghosts is a quick read, which is good because it will distract you from the lack of story it has. Mosse took an interesting subject, the Cathars, and made it dull, and ultimately unimportant in her story. Freddie himself, goes from being a character one can pity and really root for to an annoying babbling crazy person. A big part of the problem is that the story Mosse is trying to tell isn't big enough for the 250 pages she has written. A lot of mindless descriptions and musing happen, and the story moves at a snails pace.The actually story of the Cathar's is interesting, but as it is told as an unbelievable dream and in short bursts near the end, it felt more like a plot device than a historic even important to the actual story. Overall The Winter Ghosts wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible, and if nothing else it was a quick read. If you think you can stomach Freddie's whining, you might actually enjoy it.
fuzzy_pickle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time believing that Freddie had been inconsolable with grief for 10 years after the loss of his brother. As for the story, it was predictable. I could see the end coming -- I'm not sure how Freddie didn't.
ddelmoni on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a historical fiction devotee, I was very excited to win Kate Mosse¿s latest novel from LT. I read Labyrinth, the first in Mosse's Languedoc Trilogy, a few years ago. Though not great literature nor flawless, I really enjoyed Labyrinth. Mosse did an exceptional job with the history of medieval France and the Cathars. I bought the second in the trilogy, Sepulcher, which remained unread for no particular reason other than having 30+ TBRs. I was hoping The Winter Ghosts was the third in the trilogy, alas it isn¿t.The Winter Ghosts, however, was compelling and Mosse accomplished what I consider quite a coup for an author. To Mosse¿s credit, her tight narrative in The Winter Ghosts is so well done I didn't think it was a Mosse work. The story is atmospheric, thought provoking and a wee bit scary with a historically-based mystery all wrapped into one quick read. It¿s basically a novella (263 pages with a lot of white space) based on her short story The Cave. Though set again in the Languedoc region of the French Pyrenees, this time in 1928, any comparison to her earlier novels end there. Winter Ghosts is not your typical meaty Mosse historical fiction, and that¿s okay it¿s not meant to be. Unfortunately, if you are a fan -- ghost, cave and mystery -- pretty much tell you what to expect. No surprises here. As for me, NOW it¿s time to read Sepulcher. I need some conventional Kate Mosse!
QueenAlyss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an incredible journey for Freddie Watson! I was excited and intrigued by the description of the book when I first saw it. However, my first impression as I read was not so great. It was mediocre and slow until Freddie reached Nuelle, both the climax and the denouement of the story in my opinion. Here, ghosts of the towns past called out to him, he who had harbored the spirit of his own lost brother, George. He walked in the shadows by living in the past as often the dead do. And, by interacting with the ghosts and in particular Fabrissa, Freddie was able to release his own heart and grief as he released theirs.The story is tragic and beautiful as well as beautifully written. I did not expect to be taken in this direction by the book and to be taken in so fully. I recommend it to those who love subtle ghost stories and have an intrigue for the what could and has happened.
alana_leigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With The Winter Ghosts, Kate Mosse has crafted an eerie tale of wrongs from the past coming to light in an unearthly way... a concept at which she rather excels. Fans of Mosse and her books will be delighted to learn about her latest novel -- but they might feel a touch disappointed when they find that The Winter Ghosts is a much less substantial epic than Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Sure, it certainly counts as a novel in general terms, but in Mosse terms it feels almost like a novella. It has a quick pace, a small cast, and a straightforward story where two lives damaged by wars come together to bring the past into the light of day so each can find a release... and while all of those things could be seen as positive items in one light, they just aren't the things that I want when I look to Kate Mosse and her rich and elaborate historic novels. Our narrator is Freddie Watson, a young Englishman whose revered older brother died in World War I, leaving Freddie's life empty and his parents' lives even emptier, as they contend with the loss of their heir and their near-constant disappointment in the spare. After scraping by for years, Freddie endured a full on breakdown in his early twenties and now, he's still not quite set to rights, but at least he's not still institutionalized. His parents have died and rather than feel any remorse at their passing, he only feels relief. Now he simply makes by on his grief and simple means -- and The Winter Ghosts opens upon Freddie motoring through France, without an exact course so much as a general idea of touring the region and its castles. A sudden blizzard nearly sends his car careening off a precipice, but he manages to traipse through the wilderness and find a small town that seems quite untouched by the weather that nearly cost him his life. After checking in to a small bed and breakfast, he's invited to the celebrations for a local festival -- to which he eventually decides to go. He doesn't quite read the map correctly, so he trusts his instincts to help him find the way -- and sure enough, he stumbles upon a welcoming-looking building with a festival cheerily buzzing inside. What he finds there in the rough hewn clothing of the locals and the company of a beautiful girl... well, it's more than Freddie could ever imagine finding.The Winter Ghosts is a decent enough tale, bringing an interesting bit of history to attention, but the fact remains that the reader is always waiting for Freddie to catch up and figure out what's going on. Sure, he doesn't have the book title to clue him in, but it's a very long wait for such a small novel. Freddie is a somewhat sympathetic character, but I quickly grew a bit irritated with his failure to understand what was happening. (I also grew a bit irritated about how belabored a point his grief becomes even early on... such stress on the point was totally unnecessary and only served to irritate me a bit as I wished that we'd move on from the set up and reveal more while other things happened, as opposed to front-loading all our Freddie knowledge. Yes, we get it, George was awesome and Freddie has totally ceded the spotlight of his life to his dead brother. Uh-huh. Can we keep going?) Perhaps we needed a slightly unhinged young fellow because he would assume he was losing his mind as opposed to figuring out that life in a Kate Mosse novel frequently yields centuries-old corpses. The story rather loses the creepy factor by keeping the reader waiting for the grand revelation -- we got to the party so long ago that now we don't much care any more and when there's nothing else that's going to surprise us in the end. When the main descriptive features of the novel include the word ghosts, tragedy, war, romance... well, I suppose it isn't hard to screw that up, but it's hard to make it dull. The history bits were the most engrossing! (Perhaps not a shocker for history fans, but for those who prefe
bacreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have just begun "Labyrinth" so I am not familiar with her other work. I liked the story. It illustrated that a person can overcome his grief and inertia when confronted with a situation where he feels needed. Although well written, the plot was a bit predictable but I would not have wanted it to end any other way. It introduced me to a bit of history that I knew nothing about.