The Widow's House - GoodmanI spent last week skiing with my sons. I always enjoy skiing, but one of the activities I enjoy most after an exhausting day of physical activity is curling up in a warm space with a steaming cup of tea and reading a good novel.

When we ski, my kids and I ski from the moment the gondola opens in the morning up until the last run. This never exhausts them (oh, blessed youth!), but I often experience an afternoon slump, so I’ve learned to pack a  book in my backpack and slip away for a half hour of tea and reading, while my aching quadriceps rest before they carry me along on the next, endless round of slopes ’til closing time.

During my skiing holiday, I read two enjoyable novels.

The Widow’s House – Carol Goodman

I stopped reading Goodman for a while after my disappointment in a novel she wrote set in Italy that was off on so many counts. However, many of her novels are set in upstate New York, an area I also know well, and I love the sense of atmosphere she builds in these books that take place in the Adirondacks or the Hudson River Valley. This novel is one such example of this atmospheric setting, taking place in a small Hudson Valley town.

Editor Clare Martin moves from Brooklyn to this tiny upstate town with her author husband, Jess. Jess and Clare are suffering financial setbacks while Jess struggles to write his second novel. Priced out of the home they would wish to have, they instead agree to take on the job of caretakers to the grand estate of a former college professor of theirs. But the house has a gruesome past, and the locals believe it is haunted by an evil presence.

The Gothic elements of this novel are wonderful, and we are drawn in as Clare experiences a burst or creativity as she researches – and writes about – the past residents of the house and their tragic tale. The end contained a few too many Hollywood-style chase scenes for my taste, but the atmosphere and eerie storytelling made this an enjoyable (and spooky) read.

I Let You Go _MacintoshI Let You Go – Claire Macintosh

This is Macintosh’s debut novel, and the second novel of hers I’ve read. This was great slope reading, a fast interesting read told through the viewpoint of three very different narrators.

The story begins with the brutal hit-and-run accident that kills a five-year-old boy. The chapters unfold through the eyes of the investigating detective and two narrators directly affected by the tragedy. The characters are well developed, with three distinct voices, and I was fully invested in all three stories.

A well-paced page-turner with strong character development, and an excellent holiday read.

Enjoy these novels – on the slope of off. But I do wish I could remain in my invigorating exercise/lazy reading rhythms a bit longer …