Tuesday 11 July 2017
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
Landwyn and Vale Midwinter - father and son - are farmers in Suffolk. They're struggling. Farming is never easy, it's a bleak winter and the loss of Cecelia, wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier haunts both.
The story opens with another disaster, which thrusts them both into more pain and confrontation.
The writing is concise and beautiful :
We just stood there in the wet air looking at each other with all that hurt between us. The whole morning held its breath.
Told in alternating voices between Landwyn and Vale, full of brooding melancholy, bleak unforgiveness and a sense of hopelessness and despair, this intense little book appealed to me. A strong sense of place prevailed - both in the wintry countryside and in sun-baked Zambia, where they both returned in their minds, to confront those demons too. I did get a little lost towards the end, when the pace slowed to a crawl. The cover is quite beautiful and very fitting.
Perhaps this quote from the blurb summarises it best?
"Alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame and lost opportunities. Ultimately it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home."
You may also enjoy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Or At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier. Or Marguerite Poland's The Keeper, for another atmospheric novel.