Review: In Falling Snow

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: In Falling SnowIn Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl
Published by Penguin on August 27, 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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two-stars

A bestselling Australian writer’s American debut and a heart-wrenching novel of World War I

Iris Crane’s tranquil life is shattered when a letter summons memories from her bittersweet past: her first love, her best friend, and the tragedy that changed everything. Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love.

A swing and a miss. Once again, I find myself in the position of reading a book that I think is quite good, but which did not work for me. As a reader, it seems like I go through strings of reads (all the good ones in a row, all the three stars, all the horrid ones), and it seems I’m in a phase of books that just are not right for me in particular. I’m sure that other readers will find plenty to charm them in In Falling Snow, but, for the most part, I was bored.

Aspects of the story were really well done, particularly the ending. Mary-Rose MacColl’s weaving a number of plot threads throughout the novel, which was part of my problem actually, but the way she brings them together in the end is beautiful and touching. Until that last chapter, I was rather confused about what the point was and then the light shown through the clouds. That was impressive and I want to give the author her dues.

Unfortunately, until the point where the light shone through, I really didn’t understand why I was having to slough through all the side stories. The problem here is one of expectation, which is my own fault. I like to go into books knowing as little as possible, which is often a boon, but sometimes backfires. All I really knew was that In Falling Snow was about an Australian Nurse who came to France to help out in WWI while looking for her brother. What I hoped for was a WWI novel, but In Falling Snow isn’t really that.

The novel alternates between timelines, primarily Iris’ journey in WWI France and Iris’ old age in the 1970’s. MacColl also uses three different POVs. Iris, of course, is one of the first person narrators, as is her daughter Grace. Additionally, there are a handful of brief third person sections, describing two forbidden lovers. As I said, this all does come together, but that didn’t change the fact that I spent most of the book bored during all of the parts set in the 1970s, which was probably over half of the book.

Though I didn’t necessarily enjoy it much myself, I do want to mention the book’s focus on the practice of medicine and the effects of gender on that. Almost all of the characters in In Falling Snow are doctors, and it’s obviously important in the story. Grace, working in obstetrics in the 1970s deals with a lot of unfair treatment from her male coworkers because of her gender, and it’s really interesting and sad to think about how those attitudes that existed toward female doctors in the 1910s were still there in the 1970s and probably aren’t wholly squelched out today. Much as I can objectively appreciate what MacColl was doing, I’m really not interested in babies or medicine particularly, so it got a bit too focused for my interests.

Should you read In Falling Snow? You should if you enjoy watching tangled story lines knit neatly together or if you are interested in the changing roles of women in medicine.

Favorite Quote:

“How can we be ready? Of course we’ll be ready. We’re women. We do things.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

nodding off

4 responses to “Review: In Falling Snow”

  1. Sorry this one was a bust for you. I’m in the medical field so it may still have some intrigue left for me. Thanks for the detailed review. My biggest scare is the genre, historical fiction isn’t usually my forte.

  2. A bestselling Australian author’s American debut? :-/ Hmm.

    Should you read In Falling Snow? You should if you enjoy watching tangled story lines knit neatly together or if you are interested in the changing roles of women in medicine.

    And not really.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Dickens Christmas Séance: event recapMy Profile

  3. I feel like I would like In Falling Snow but honestly I need to train myself back into reading adult books that aren’t things like Gone Girl. Maybe someday.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Sleigh Bells In The Snow | Sarah Morgan | Book ReviewMy Profile

  4. Bonnie says:

    Yeah, this sounds like a big snore. Was tempted to snag this when it came up on a book tour but *phew* dodged that bullet. The changing roles of women in medicine? THRILLING. Not.
    Bonnie recently posted…Book Review – Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel BachMy Profile

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