The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

This would have been a good book to have read over the Christmas period, but when I picked it up at the beginning of March we were having a spell of particularly heavy snow, which was quite appropriate! This is the fourth book I’ve read by Judith Kinghorn, so I had an idea of what to expect from it: an early twentieth century setting, a big house, a family with servants, their way of life changing as a result of the First World War. The Snow Globe does have all of these things, although the war aspect is not as strong as in The Last Summer or The Echo of Twilight.

The novel opens in December 1926. At Eden Hall in Surrey, the Forbes family are preparing to celebrate Christmas and eighteen-year-old Daisy has brought out her snow globe, a treasured gift from her father, Howard. She and her father have always had a close relationship and this makes it particularly upsetting when she overhears the servants saying that he has been having an affair. To make matters worse, her mother has just invited Howard’s mistress to spend Christmas with them. This creates a dilemma for Daisy. Does her mother know what has been going on – and if not, should she be told?

The discovery that her father may not be the man she has always believed him to be shakes Daisy’s confidence and makes it difficult for her to trust the other men in her life. There are three of them and they have each declared their love for Daisy over that same Christmas period: Stephen Jessop, the housekeeper’s adopted son and Daisy’s childhood friend; Valentine Vincent, the son of her father’s mistress; and Ben Gifford, who works for the family business. To give herself some time to think, Daisy goes to stay in London with her glamorous older sister Iris but eventually she will need to make a decision…will it be the right one?

I enjoyed The Snow Globe, but I found it very light compared to Judith Kinghorn’s other books. Although the book is set in the 1920s, there’s not a lot of history in it. Apart from the opening chapter, which discusses the disappearance of Agatha Christie, there are very few mentions of any other historical events or people of the time. However, it does still capture the feel of the 1920s very well, touching on the lives of those both upstairs and downstairs, class differences within society, attitudes towards marriage, and the changing roles of women.

I liked Daisy – although some of her actions seem a bit silly, it’s worth remembering that she is young and innocent and has just had her world torn apart. Her precious snow globe, which shows a miniature world encased in glass, could be seen as symbolising this: when the globe is shaken the illusion is destroyed and then, when things fall back into place, they are in a slightly different position than they were before. I also liked spending time with the servants, listening to their gossip and seeing life at Eden Hall through their eyes. The character who interested me most, though, was probably Mabel, Daisy’s mother. I found her reaction to the traumas in her life dignified and mature; she didn’t fall apart as some people would, but searched for the strength within herself to carry on.

There was enough happening in The Snow Globe to hold my interest from beginning to end, but it didn’t have the level of depth that I prefer in a novel. I would recommend it to fans of Downton Abbey or other ‘big house’ stories, but I think The Echo of Twilight would be a better choice to start with.

Thanks to Canelo for providing a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.

10 thoughts on “The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

  1. Sandra says:

    Thanks for this, Helen. It sounds like a good choice for Christmas reading, when something light is preferred. I still have to catch up on her other books which are sitting patiently on the list. I’ll get there!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, probably a good one to read during the build up to Christmas. Her other books have more substance than this one, I think – my favourite was probably The Last Summer.

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Interesting to read this review, Helen, especially as it’s not long since we spent a couple of nights in Harrogate at the very hotel — The Old Swan — where Agatha Christie was holed up when she disappeared from public view. There’s speculation that she faked her suicide in reaction to her husband having an affair, and in fact she divorced him a couple of years later. Perhaps this incident was a trigger for the plotting of this novel?

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’m sure there were supposed to be parallels between the Agatha Christie disappearance, which is mentioned in the first chapter of the novel, and the rest of the plot that follows. How interesting that you stayed in the same hotel!

  3. Jo says:

    Much lighter perhaps than her other novels I liked the symbolism of the snow globe in this though and thought it is good book for the upstairs/downstairs element which fascinates many people. I need to catch up with Echo of Twilight.

    • Helen says:

      I did enjoy it and I liked the snow globe symbolism too, but I think it’s probably my least favourite of her books. The Echo of Twilight is a good one – I hope you like it. 🙂

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