Review of ‘The Snow-Woman’ by Stella Gibbons

Despite the cover design and the title, this isn’t a seasonal book. The snow is metaphorical, referring to the protagonist Maude, whose icy character thaws throughout the story.

This is an oddity in the Stella Gibbons canon, as it’s the only one told in the first person that I’ve read so far. Usually, her narrator is omniscient and we follow several characters, but here we only know what one of them is thinking. The introduction to the book suggests that some facets of Maude are the author herself.

Set in late 1960s London, the story is about some events which change Maude’s behaviour and her outlook on life. In her seventies, unmarried and still grieving the loss of her three brothers in the First World War, she lives with a faithful servant. She’s somewhat prejudiced, likes things to be just so, and can’t stand anything modern. When an old friend brings a young woman in labour to her home, this is a turning point for Maude to become reluctantly involved with other people and to find that she does care after all.

I enjoyed this book to some extent and found that although Maude is quite unlikeable because of her prejudices, one can still root for her as she finds fulfilment. It’s also interesting to read the opinions of the older generation (who experienced both world wars) on morality, the arts and social class. Maude is prudish, emotionally repressed and horrified by ‘aberrant’ behaviour. It is worth noting that the book was published in 1969, only 2 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK.

This edition was published in 2021 by Dean Street Press.

7 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Snow-Woman’ by Stella Gibbons”

    1. It was quite unusual. I like the cover! It looks seasonal (even though it isn’t) so I thought it was a good time to post.

  1. Maude sounds like an interesting protagonist and I don’t mind if she is unlikable. It’s nice to see scope for character development instead of her just having “perfect” views from the begining .

    1. Unlikeable characters do make a story more interesting, I find! Maude is also an insight into Gibbons herself I think 🙂

    1. You’re in luck… she was very prolific so there is plenty to choose from!

Leave a Reply