Faber have published the scandalous 1960s cult classic with a foreword from Eley Williams: The Snow Ball is a heady novel draped in seduction and temptation. The first I’ve read of Brigid Brophy, this is festive read that was originally out in 1964, but stunningly redone with this luscious new cover.
London, New Year’s Eve. Snow falls on a Georgian mansion, which is bustling with the festivities of an eighteenth-century themed masquerade ball. Middle-aged divorcee Anna stands alone, grieving her youth – until the clock chimes midnight and a mysterious masked figure kisses her. Thus begins a heady dance of seduction charged by other clandestine romances swirling around them, whipping the ball into an erotic frenzy of operatic proportions – until the night climaxes, revealing unease beneath the glitter. A cinematic and vivid works of proportion, there is much of a Stanley Kubrick feel to this, but the influence may have been the other way round, considering the date of original publication. Obviously Faber is bringing this to a whole new set of readers, including myself.
Despite the prose and synopsis holding you there is some of the novel that is a little lost on me, and perhaps this is due to the dependency of the writer to expect the reader to be aware and indulge in the Mozart references. However, her commentary on elitism and class is clear, and renders it a more interesting read. The world in which these characters are set is one above the time in which it was written with ambiguous relationships being more common than the “convention” of the era. As one reviewer points out, “Freud hovers in the background,” a witty observation as we all take stock of this seductive and superfluous world.
Charming and romantic, yet with an insecure and frantic nature that alters the pace of the novel, The Snow Ball is a riveting read and one for over the winter period, ideally with lying sheet of stunning white sat outside.
The Snow Ball by Brigid Brophy is out now, published by Faber and Faber.