Also an indictment of the 'stiff upper lip' or manliness which refuses to talk about pain and grief. Some beautiful passages and sentences, polished like gemstones. Dec 18, Alba rated it liked it. Midwinter is like nothing I've read in a long while. It felt a bit like there was no beginning and no end to the story, more like the author chose a period of time in the life of the main characters and told their stories during that time. This is something I found really interesting at the beginning of the book: getting to know Vale, his father, and his best friend, trying to understand their actions and their feelings.
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But as the story progressed and you knew about their past, I kind of lost interest in them. Midwinter has an undercurrent of sadness during the whole story that didn't help me warm up to the characters. I cared about them and wanted a better life for them but it was difficult to really connect with them. Probably because they didn't even know how to connect with each other themselves.
The atmosphere between father and son was always weird, charged with guilt and resentment and I just wanted for them to sit with each other and talk. One thing I found quite fascinating in this story though was its evocative power. The description of places, nature and its fauna, were generous and detailed. I could easily picture the plantations in Zambia and the farm in Suffolk. But as I said, I didn't really connected with the story itself.
It's well crafted and interesting enough, and I really thing it conveys grief and guilt really well but I found it a bit boring at the end, so I have a bit of a mixed opinion on this one. Jan 17, Susan rated it really liked it. This is a timeless book. The only clue to the timing was the references to soldiers in Afghanistan, other than that, this could have been any time in the last 50 years.
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It's lovely prose, mature and poetic, full of beauty and violence. The book starts strongly, with a boating accident that shapes the whole story, and then steps back as the characters survey the wreckage. So many books with male characters stay away from full on emotional scenes that this felt very different, almost daring in the This is a timeless book. So many books with male characters stay away from full on emotional scenes that this felt very different, almost daring in the breadth of subject matter and how it was handled.
The only thing that spoiled it was a number of typos scattered through the book. Some of them the kind of thing you miss when you do a spellcheck - quite instead of quiet and so on, but there were enough of them to notice and it's a real shame. With a such a beautiful cover, and the look and feel of the book being such quality - to match the writing, I do feel the publishers did Melrose a disservice with their lack of attention to detail.
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Oct 21, Louise rated it it was amazing. I was held in a kind of spell while reading Midwinter. Fiona Melrose's prose has a hypnotic quality: sometimes violent, often sensitive, always lyrical. The descriptions of the landscapes and people of Suffolk and Zambia are beautifully evocative.
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I loved the depiction of the troubled relationship between the father and his son which is the heart of this novel, I feel , and the mysterious presence of the fox, a beautiful vixen the father, Landyn, becomes fascinated by. All the stark brutality o I was held in a kind of spell while reading Midwinter. All the stark brutality of nature is laid bare in Midwinter, along with the human despair felt on the death of beloved animals. But there is not an ounce of sentimentality in this extraordinary novel.
I wouldn't be surprised if Midwinter found its way onto prize lists. It certainly deserves to. Mar 15, Alex Taylor rated it really liked it. Really enjoyed this. Well written and engaging. Apr 07, Gerhard rated it it was amazing. I'm very seldom at a loss for words when it comes to books; but after closing this debut novel by Fiona Melrose, I find myself tongue-tied -- yet strangely elated and at the same time just a little bit tearful.
I'm fairly certain that mere words will not be sufficient to convey the roller coaster ride of conflicting emotions I experienced while reading this tale of a Suffolk father and son embroiled in a situation of complex and relentless strife that intensifies as a bitter and seemingly endles I'm very seldom at a loss for words when it comes to books; but after closing this debut novel by Fiona Melrose, I find myself tongue-tied -- yet strangely elated and at the same time just a little bit tearful.
I'm fairly certain that mere words will not be sufficient to convey the roller coaster ride of conflicting emotions I experienced while reading this tale of a Suffolk father and son embroiled in a situation of complex and relentless strife that intensifies as a bitter and seemingly endless winter takes its toll on man and beast.
The father in question is Landyn Midwinter, the latest man farming the land that has been in possession of the Midwinter family for generations. When financial difficulties start to hamstring him, and the stress of holding on to the land at all cost begins to exert tremendous strain on the continued happiness of his marriage to Cecelia, a solution of sorts presents itself when he is practically at the end of his tether.
He reads about a Zambian government scheme in terms of which the know-how of experienced farmers is recruited to assist the development of the African country's lagging farming sector. The perks involved are too good not to warrant serious consideration, and eventually the move to a strange and little-known country becomes a reality for Landyn, Cecelia and their young son Vale. The main action of the novel is centered around Landyn and Vale ten years after their return to the Suffolk farm in the aftermath of the Zambian tragedy that deprived them of a wife and a mother. Vale is now a twenty-year-old young man, emotionally-stunted and still suffering deeply from the traumatic loss of his mother in horrific circumstances.
Both father and son live under a dark shadow of memories, regrets and longing that causes their relationship to teeter on the edge of an irrevocable breakdown. When Vale finally accuses Landyn openly of being instrumental in bringing about Cecelia's death, the battle lines are drawn.
I think Fiona Melrose's novel succeeds on two counts.
First of all, she manages an evocation of landscape -- the Suffolk countryside in the dead of winter, and a dusty Zambian farm under a searing African sun -- that had me vainly trying to recall if I had ever before read such gorgeously effective depictions of nature in all its extremes. Surely, I must have; but in any given moment -- under the spell of her lyrical prose -- I was convinced that I hadn't.
Certainly, the rigors of an unforgiving and settled-in winter are sketched with such convincing power that I felt my heart encrusted in ice while snow sifted down and "you couldn't sleep for the horrible bleating and crying of the ewes as their little ones died, one by one". Secondly, the meticulously shaded characterizations breathe glowing life into Landyn and Vale. In the case of Landyn, the author reveals with deft strokes an ageing man acutely aware of the mistakes he has made and despite it all exhibiting a compassionate tenderness for his estranged son. In the case of the rebellious Vale, she manages to make his debilitating anger and confusion totally believable to the extent that the reader feels a profound empathy for him.
I have to single out the bond between Landyn and his beloved dog, and also his curious quasi-supernatural attachment to a handsome vixen that haunts his land and his mind. There are obvious symbolic parallels to be drawn as far as both these animals are concerned, and I will not go into that. But in Landyn's care and concern for both Pup and the fox yet another layer is added to the narrative to make it an even richer and more satisfying read.
Lastly, the cover of this edition is a thing of rare beauty. It is not often that I would be moved to comment on art work adorning a book cover, but in this particular instance it captures the contents of the novel perfectly. Jul 10, Anne Goodwin rated it really liked it Shelves: debut-novelists.
She expertly captures the voices of the uneducated and inarticulate in language that excites from the first page. Thanks to Corsair for my review copy of this impressive debut. Mar 09, Deborah rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-read What a beautiful book. This tore me apart in places. Stunning yet simple prose. I loved both MCs; Landyn and Vale. Landyn has such beautiful compassion for animals and all nature it was breathtaking. Both men 10 years later, dealing with the violent murder of wife and mother, full of the raw emotion that grief has caused. Maybe my favourite read of so far.
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose Th narration follows the lives of Landyn and Vance Midwinter as the they face life together after the loss of Cecilia their wife and mother. Life does not go well and after Cecilia dies they move back to Suffolk and try to begin life again but guilt and blame are still laying close to the surface as the demands brought on the harsh winters in Suffolk Midwinter by Fiona Melrose Th narration follows the lives of Landyn and Vance Midwinter as the they face life together after the loss of Cecilia their wife and mother. Life does not go well and after Cecilia dies they move back to Suffolk and try to begin life again but guilt and blame are still laying close to the surface as the demands brought on the harsh winters in Suffolk are not helping.
The fragile family unit were constantly at odds and on the verge of total collapse when a foolish decision by Vance causes the law to become involved. The narrative goes back in forth in time as well as switching the scenes from Zambia and Suffolk. The writing is lyrical at times and yet gruff in nature. The timeline is elusive although it does refer to the Afghan war so sometime after Hypnotic in verse, global in sensitivity along with the solace that is found in nature with a little red fox. As the cover states, hauntingly beautiful Melancholy, but beautiful. Very atmosperic too.
I enjoyed it. I would most definitely be on the look out for this author. Mar 25, ns rated it really liked it Shelves: women-s-prize-for-fiction.
Possibly attributed to my reading slump, the book was slow to start at first, but the vivid characters eventually captured my attention. Told in alternating viewpoints of a father and his son, in The aftermath of losing their wife and mother respectively, it's a raw and evocative portrayal of the grief process, in all it's harrowing shapes and forms.
The last third especially, was stunning. Dec 20, Karina Szczurek rated it it was amazing. Stunning debut. A writer to watch. Simply log in and click on the My Info and Entries link to see the numerical scores. Score sheets and awards will be mailed out early this week. A huge thank you also to all of our ramp up partners and sponsors. Hope to see you all back in ! Fire up those kettles! Registration for our competition opens on December 29th and will remain open until February 2nd.
Work wise, life is quiet. The technicians have a little less to do now that it is too cold to work outdoors, but still keep the base going, providing snow for drinking water, getting rid of waste and making sure that the sauna is occasionally heated.
The chef has a fixed routine now, after a joint decision in the group was made to have fewer dishes for each meal. This has not only eased his work but also incidentally reduced our water consumption a great deal. The glaciologists dig snow-graves, take snow samples and maintain their various instruments, and our two extroverted glaciologists also provide much of the festive features on the base. The doctor gives me ultrasound courses, while the meteorologist sends a balloon every day and ensures that the various meteorological and atmospheric experiments run which can be a huge challenge due to the cold.
Our IT man keeps track of us — he registers every time we leave the base, whether we reach our destination and whether we come back again — while enabling our contact with the outside world and ensuring that data is sent and received. The astronomer pulls his hair out over instruments that have not worked since day 1, despite persistent attempts, and tries to improve conditions for next year.
And I follow regular schedules for examinations and tests and am fortunately still so privileged to have benevolent test subjects. Even in June, when the schedule is tightly packed with tests, midwinter is really interesting for researchers. So all in all, there is very little to complain about and much to enjoy here at Concordia. Even though karaoke nights are never a hit with me. I love all the posts about Concordia, but enjoyed this one especially. I always enjoy reading about lives that differ from my own life in Alabama USA , where it is currently hot and humid.
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Notify me of new posts by email. Part 2 Antarctica — A Bonebreaker? Part 1 Step to the Stars. Step to the Stars narrative. A Miss Concordia pageant helps.