It's always a good idea to read a Viola Shipman novel. The books are always about family, feelings, and nature. And this time it was a very moving and particularly touching story. I read my way through pages where I shed some tears, others where I smiled at the situation Amberrose found herself in, and others where I savored the beauty of the moment. Never let anyone tell you again that a man cannot write emotional novels. Because Wade Rouse aka Viola Shipman can. The Secret Of Snow proves it!

Ein Geheimnis Im Schnee*
by Viola Shipman
Translation Anita Nirschl
Original Title The Secret Of Snow
Publisher Fischer TB on September 27, 2023
Genre Novel
Pages 403
Format Paperback
Source Fischer TB

Reluctantly, Southern California meteorologist Sonny Dunes returns to the long, cold, snowy winter of northern Michigan... with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Sonny is no longer an outsider like she used to be, but she's not a local either, and her past catches up with her everywhere: from the school friends she alienated, to the former journalist colleague who is now her boss, to the tragic reason for her departure from home. If Sonny ever wants to be here at home again, she needs to make peace with her former self and listen to her heart. (personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary)
Sonny moves back to Michigan. Her new job takes her back to her beginnings, and she has to do a lot of humiliating things. But she pulls through and starts standing up for herself again. To rediscover life. Does she also have time for Mason? Or the courage to admit her feelings?

Viola Shipman writes in a very poignant and moving way about Amberrose and her little sister Joncee. I could literally hear the little girl giggling happily at some points, even if the author didn't write about it in one scene. Together with all the memories and experiences that Amberrose experiences every day at work, whether in the office or in the great outdoors, a completely successful, touching story is told here. The pain of all those who are still left of a family and live with it as best as possible was sensitively portrayed and yet clearly noticeable.

Sonny is used to being stared at by strangers. But I found the fact that strangers were looking through the hedge at her just to watch her sunbathing by the pool a bit irritating. In general, Amberrose, as Sonny's real name is, is an unusual woman. She doesn't mince her words, offends, is great at her job and otherwise prefers to hide away. Sonny is terrified of losing control. So, she doesn't give herself or others a chance right from the start. The more I got to know her, the more compassion I felt for her. And the constant shaking of her legs – God, it annoyed me after a while! A lovingly meant tic from her mother that had the complete opposite effect on me. Sorry.

One of the most beautiful winter novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The story still resonates with me. Viola Shipman writes very sensitively, and her words have a very special magic to them. I was moved to tears and very moved and thank you from the bottom of my heart for this incredibly personal story.

Happy reading

*Fischer TB kindly provided me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Viola Shipman schreibt auf sehr ergreifende und bewegende Weise über Amberrose und deren kleine Schwester Joncee. Ich konnte an so mancher Stelle das kleine Mädchen buchstäblich fröhlich kichern hören, selbst wenn die Autorin in einer Szene darüber nicht geschrieben hat. Zusammen mit den ganzen Erinnerungen und Erlebnissen die Amberrose tagtäglich auf der Arbeit, ob im Büro oder in der freien Natur erlebt, wird hier eine rundherum gelungene rührende Geschichte erzählt. Der Schmerz all derjenigen, die von einer Familie noch übrig sind und so gut wie möglich damit leben, war feinfühlig dargestellt und dennoch deutlich spürbar.

Sonny ist es gewohnt, von Fremden angestarrt zu werden. Das Fremde ihr aber durch die Hecke gucken, nur um sie beim Sonnenbaden am Pool zu beobachten, das fand ich dann doch etwas irritierend. Überhaupt ist Amberrose, wie Sonny eigentlich heißt, eine ungewöhnliche Frau. Sie nimmt kein Blatt vor den Mund, eckt an, ist spitze in ihrem Job und möchte sich ansonsten aber am liebsten verkriechen. Sonny hat Angst vorm Leben davor, die Kontrolle zu verlieren. Also gibt sie sich und anderen schon von Anfang an keine Chance. Je mehr ich sie kennenlernen durfte, umso mehr Mitleid hatte ich mit ihr. Und dieses ewige Schütteln ihrer Beine – Himmel hat mich das nach einiger Zeit genervt! Ein liebevoll gemeinter Tick ihrer Mutter, der bei mir das glatte Gegenteil bewirkt hat. Sorry.

Einer der schönsten winterlichen Romane, die ich je das Vergnügen hatte, lesen zu dürfen. Die Geschichte klingt noch immer in mir nach. Viola Shipman schreibt sehr gefühlvoll und ihren Worten liegt ein ganz besonderer Zauber inne. Ich war zu Tränen gerührt und sehr bewegt und bedanke mich von Herzen für diese unglaublich persönliche Geschichte.

*This book was published in the English language by Graydon House on October 26, 2021

Wade Rouse
Wade Rouse ©John Quiri

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.


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