It’s that time of year when the Daily Express and other ‘newspapers’ are full of dire warnings about blizzards, polar vortexes and all kinds of other extremely wintery weather! And it’s also the time of year when we all secretley wish we could be snowed in and have to while away the time with a good book!
But more often than not all we get is a grey sky and a bit of drizzle but don’t lose hope – even if there’s not a crisp wall of snow outside you can always find one inside – inside the pages of a book that is! Here are some wintery recommendations for you (and one warning!)
Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin
Coincidently Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada – 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle – searching for answers about a family member. Nelson is looking for his estranged older brother, Fay for her disappeared grandfather. Another coincidence – these two men have an unexpected connection to one of the greatest enduring mysteries of polar exploration.
Through the frozen Arctic waste and the snowblinding passage of time this unlikely couple end up working together to try and figure out what could have happened to both men and in the process create a haunting story about obsessions, procrastination, the threat of war and the fear and pull of insignificance.
Thin Air by Michelle Paver
1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain with his brother, Kits. No one has scaled it before, and this team of five are following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time – the 1907 Lyell Expedition. Only two of Lyell’s expedition made it off the mountain then, but only four of the five left behind were buried.
Charles Tennant, the last survivor of the 1907 expedition, warns Pearce not to climb, hinting of dark things ahead. But Pearce and the rest are determined. But when they find macabre mementoes of the earlier climb on the trail and the ocygen levels drop as they get higher, he starts to see things. Is it just oxygen sickness or is it something much more sinister?
I’m never likely to try and climb Kangchenjunga and quite frankly if I had been planning to this would have successfully scared me off! Not only are the cold realities of climbing made painfully clear but in the wildness wild things live – and sometimes those wild things are the result of human depravity – this book will give you chills in more ways than one. Though is has some stunningly beatuiful sentances in so you’ll get your fair share of breath-taking views from it too!
The Midwife by Katja Kettu
She falls obsessively in love with SS war photographer Johannes Angelhurst, and volunteers to serve as a nurse at the prison camp where he has been assigned.
The harsh weather perfectly mirrors the intensity and disassociation of life during war. This is not a book for the squeamish. It is beautiful and brutal in equal measures, it’s an award winner and I’m not surprised.
Runemarks by Joanne M Harris
But fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith was born with a runemark on her hand and though she is shunned by her fellow villagers because of it One-Eye teaches her the powers it gives her.
She is thrown amongst living gods still battling one another and in this snow-locked land and learns some surprising truths about herself.
I listened to The Gospel of Loki not long ago after reaing BookEater Kelly’s great review of it but I have to say I think this might be even better! Maddy is a great protagonist and from page one I could imagine watching this during Christmas holidays with snow outside and a fire burning in the grate. Joanne M Harris’ writing is richly visual … treat yourself!
When The Professor Got Stuck In The Snow by Dan Rhodes
This book from a couple of years ago thinks it is really funny. I didn’t. The premise of it is Professor Richard Dawkins trying to get to the village of Upper Bottom to give a talk to their WI but getting stuck in the nearby town of Market Horten because of a blizzard. He has no choice but to take lodgings with the local Anglican vicar.
For me the problem with the book is how utterly comptemptous the author seems to be of all his characters. Admittedly I didn’t get far into it, I just couldn’t take being in the company of a sneering bully for longer than about half an hour – and by that I am referring to the author though he had painted Richard Dawkins as being exactly that. The fact that he had made it abundantly clear that this was the real Richard Dawkins just in a fictional story didn’t help. I’ve no doubt the man is as far from perfect as I am but this wasn’t gentle ribbing – it was character assasination.
NB I received a free copies of all these books through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews
Previous reviews of Wintery books!
Winter’s Tale by Mark Halpern.
A couple of years ago I wrote a feature on this much loved favourite of mine (and of BookEater Tam’s) where I picked out just a few of the gorgeous sentances describing winter in New York around the turn of the 20th Century. The story is magical and it’s a huge book so should keep you going through the long Christmas break this year – click here to see the feature and see if this could become your new winter tradition too!
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
Read more here!
The Gap of Time; The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson
Read more here!