It’s North Ontario in 1972, and seven-year-old Clara’s teenage sister Rose has just run away from home. At the same time, a strange man – Liam – drives up to the house next door, which he has just inherited from Mrs Orchard, a kindly old woman who was friendly to Clara and relied on the girl to feed her cat Moses.
Before the Snow follows Clara and her fractured family - a sister who is missing and parents who won’t ever tell her the truth; Liam’s escape from a mid-life crisis in this crumbling house which he was given unexpectedly by a woman he hasn’t seen since he was five; and Mrs Orchards’ final days in hospital, as her memories spiral back to the real mystery at the heart of this novel – what happened between her and Liam so many years ago.
As these characters, who lives are joined by fate in ways they don't yet understand, reckon with personal crises and tragic pasts, we see that change and, for some, a new life is possible. By turns gripping and heart-warming, Before the Snow carefully uncovers the layers of grief, remorse and love that connect families, both the ones we're born into and the ones we choose, and steadily builds towards an assured, affecting and uplifting ending. It’s a beautiful portrait of a small town, a little girl and an exploration of childhood.