The Snowstorm, by Beryl Netherclift, for Timeslip Tuesday

Some books seem tailor-made for me. For instance, The Snowstorm, by Beryl Netherclift (1967, aka The Snow Ghosts) includes:

Three siblings (two girls and a boy), whose parents go abroad, leaving them with an eccentric aunt they've never met...

Who happens to live in an old house deep in the English countryside...

A house where a mysterious snow globe opens the way between past and present, and allows them to befriend a boy from the 19th century...

Who helps them (rather indirectly) find the lost treasures that will save the old house from falling into ruin...

And then, as a piece de resistance, the children are trapped alone in the house for several days by a fierce snowstorm, and must deal with domestic details of food and firewood on their own.

Added bonus features: a secret passage, a remarkable dog, tasty-sounding food, selling domestic produce to raise money, and rummaging in trunks in an old attic.

Sadly, the execution was not quite as delightful as the plot. Although it came close to being a perfect book, the dialogue was at times stilted ("Let us go in the garden out of the way" p 115) and the author much too concerned about overusing "said," with the result that the children are constantly conceding, reflecting, affirming, apologizing, denying, beaming etc etc and as a result much of the dialogue felt a tad forced, and not at all relaxed. It was bad enough so that it bothered me while I was reading, which is pretty bad; mostly I'm reading so fast I don't notice much if people are scowling or grinning when they say something. The servile gardener likewise jars a bit on one's modern sensibilities (surely by the 1960s such things were already dated?)

More to the point, I didn't understand at all why, when the modern kids traveled back to the past and met Michael, their distant cousin, they didn't pepper him with questions--it took until page 120, when they'd met Michael quite a few times, before they even asked what year he was from. Time Travel Fail, if you ask me. And he showed no curiosity whatsoever about modern times, except a little with regard the decrepitude of his ancestral house. I think Netherclift let me down here--a bit more excitement about the time traveling on the part of the participants would have ramped up the excitement considerably.

Still, you can't have everything in this imperfect world, and The Snowstorm is one I'd happily add to my permanent collection. "But I do not think that I will hurry to seek out her other two books," sighed Charlotte, ruefully. "Her style was simply not to my taste."

I wasn't able to find any useful information about Netherclift on line, besides the fact that she has two other books that no one seems to have reviewed anywhere....has anyone else read anything of hers, or know who she is?


  1. I have, alas, never heard of this author, Charlotte - but I like the cover very much.

    Do you know 'Sun Slower, Sun Faster' by Meriol Trevor? Much the same vintage.

  2. No, I've not read that one, Katherine--thanks! I've added it to my list.

  3. Thank you for this post. It is nice.

  4. you're very welcome! thanks for stopping by.

  5. By coincidence, I came across your review after just having finished reading another work by Beryl Netherclift, "Mystery at Castle Steep." I had first read "The Snow Ghosts," or "The Snowstorm," 40 years ago when I was in grade school and reread it last year. Since I liked it, when I saw "Mystery" at a library book sale years ago I bought it.

    The plot unfortunately is a lot less imaginative than "The Snowstorm" and fairly tame, although I do like her descriptions of the island and caves the children explore (once again two girls and a boy). The dialogue is a bit better but still a lot of broadcasting of emotions.

    I couldn't find much information on Beryl Netherclift either. The book jacket says she was brought up in Wivelsfield, England, was a writer for at least 28 years (since 1942), and had three previous books and many articles. She also enthusiastically visited old houses all over the English countryside.

    Although not the best book you might enjoy "Mystery at Castle Steep" if you find one at a library.

  6. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for stopping by! There's a copy of Mystery at Castle Steep still in my state's library system, so someday I'll give it a try!

  7. Thank you for bringing this one up, Charlotte - I ILL'd it and am enjoying it a lot (though I do have to agree with some of your complaints).

  8. I'm glad your enjoying it--thanks for letting me know!

  9. Beryl Netherclift was my 1st cousin (maternal). Sadly, we never met. Beryl wrote the books referred to and she did write various articles for local magazines. My mother told me and my siblings that, Beryl had won an award for Snowstorm...the Best Children's Book award, 1967. Did she? Beryl never married and had no children. She died from breast cancer at age 73. She was by all accounts a genuinely kind and warm women, yes old fashioned, who had a deep love for her country and people.

    1. I've gone on to read others of her books, and enjoyed them very--warm and old fashioned are adjectives that describe them well also!

      I poked around on line to see if I could find anything about her winning an award, but came up empty. There is a sad lack of informatio about her and her books on line!


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