A lot of people don't realize until they've read Winter Shadows that the entire story is spun around a Victorian Christmas in an early settlement along the Red River; as well as a modern Christmas story in the same stone house along that river.
I used this holiday because it is often used in stories to bring families together in celebration and harmony. But when those families are in fact, very dysfunctional, it can cause all kinds of new stresses - some that break spirits and others that offer new strengths.
In the 1850's along the Red River, in the small settlement of St. Cuthbert's where Beatrice Alexander lives, Christmas is one of the few festive holidays that breaks the cold monotony of a long winter. It is a time that Beatrice usually loves; but because she is now living with a very nasty stepmother who seems to be influencing Beatrice's kindly Métis father, Christmas looks very bleak indeed.
The Christmas of 1856 becomes a catalyst for even more tension between Beatrice and her stepmother Ivy. And when Ivy's son, Duncan Kilgour, arrives on the scene, even more tension develops - of a different kind.
In the modern world, in the very same stone house that Beatrice lived in all those years ago, Cass is also living with a difficult stepmother, Jean, and her annoying daughter Daisy, as well as Cass's dad - who wants this to be the start of a new and happy life for all of them together.Cass's mother died two years before, and Cass resents her stepmother Jean taking over her mother's place. This is not a happy family looking forward to Christmas.
( I found this lovely little Victorian Christmas card to "Beatrice sends best wishes for a Merry Christmas" and felt it had to be from her!)
The story takes place in the heavy prairies snows of Manitoba long the deep river banks of the Red River.
When Cass finds the star brooch once belonging to Beatrice, her visions lead her to Beatrice's diary. Do the girls really communicate across time, or is it all in their imaginations?
Besides developing the stories and connections between Beatrice and Cass, I also had the pleasure of researching and looking at the food and entertainments that might have occurred at this festive holiday time.
I hope that you will enjoy the conflicts, ghostly happenings, romance, and life-experiences of my characters in Winter Shadows!
Winter Shadows is available in hardcover and paperback in most local bookstores (like McNally Robinson's here in Winnipeg) - and through online bookstores such as Chapters, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and more. It is also available as an eBook on most online bookstores in their eBook sections..