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Father And Son, Landyn And Vale Midwinter, Are Men Of The Land Suffolk Farmers Times Are Hard And They Struggle To Sustain Their Property, Their Livelihood And Their Heritage In The Face Of Competition From Big BusinessBut An Even Bigger, Brutal Fight Is Brewing A Fight Between Each Other, About The Horrible Death Of Cecelia, Beloved Wife And Mother, In Zambia Ten Years Earlier A Past They Have Both Refused To Confront Until NowOver The Course Of A Particularly Mauling Suffolk Winter, Landyn And Vale Grapple With Their Memories And Their Pain, Raking Over What Remains Of Their Fragile Family Unit, Constantly At Odds And Under Threat Of Falling Apart Forever While Vale Makes Increasingly Desperate Decisions, Landyn Retreats, Finding Solace In The Land, His Animals And A Fox Who Haunts The Farm And Seems To Bring With Her Both Comfort And ProtectionAlive 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


10 thoughts on “Midwinter

  1. says:

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.Landyn Midwinter and his son, Vale, are Suffolk farmers who live together and work the land their family has owned for generations The death of Cecelia, cherished wife and mother, has haunted their relationship for ten years Amid a particularly difficult winter, buried feelings of resentment, anger, and pain emerge and threaten to tear father and son apart forever Midwinter is a slow crawl and is only occasionally dotted with exemplary passages I reckon we both felt like those American cowboys, all booze and cold black nights and smoky fire. We just stood there in the wet air looking at each other with all that hurt between us The whole morning held its breath. Vale is perhaps the most complex character, though that word is employed lightly Cecelia s death appears to have had the greatest impact on him, as he was only a boy when she died He is plagued by injurious thoughts subsequent to his unprocessed feelings of loss and longing Tom used to ask what I knew about Ma and what I had seen He knew I was there It was all of it bad, like you need to teach yourself to un see it Mostly that s what I did I told Tom I saw nothing. I thought if I died then maybe once he had lost his whole family, Pa would know how I felt when Ma died I should have hated myself for thinking it I didn t. Landyn can be summarized with one passage, the same quote oft used when promoting the book, but it s one of only a few profound statements delivered by his character For ten years I d shirked the memories I always felt them scratching at the dark corners of my mind, still feral but sitting on a tree stump in the gathering dark, all of it the space, the fear, the sorrow all seemed to find me again It was as if the past ten years I d only been standing still and I was back in a mess with a boy who only sees ghosts. Despite the weighty subject matter at the heart of this book a husband lamenting the death of his wife, a devastated son grieving the loss of his mother both Landyn and Vale lack emotional depth Their plight is experienced on a surface level their story fails to tug at heartstrings Their shifts in emotional stability are sudden and happen without preamble, such that they feel unjustified and out of character With so many underdeveloped subplots, it s difficult to discern where the author wants readers to focus On Vale and his best friend Tom, who are at odds while Tom recovers from a catastrophic physical injury on Vale and his father tiptoeing around the subject of Cecilia s death, trying to learn how to talk to one another on Landyn and his obsession with injured animals on Landyn and his fixation with a fox living in the wood, a fox he suspects embodies the spirit of his deceased wife on Vale and the dangerous course of action he considers in order to diminish his grief While all of these subplots achieve a sense of closure, the narrative drifts at a casual pace to each conclusive moment, all of which arrive without impact The book has a startling number of typos for example, using the word quite instead of quiet or too instead of to , and some sentences are structured with puzzling phrasing It was no use, I knew she had already decided I was an old duzzy whoop and young boys up to no good and had what they had coming to them. Finally, while it s difficult to pinpoint why, exactly, both male characters read like they were written by a woman which they were Their grief is human, universal, and easy to relate to, but the thought processes and narrative voices of these toughened Suffolk farmers feel feminine than masculine Told in alternating perspectives, Midwinter is a repetitive, superficial story of a family in crisis that reaches a limp conclusion.


  2. says:

    When I picked up this beautiful novel, I had no expectations that I was going to like it as much as I did I didn t know the author and I didn t know much about the story, and I was a bit unsure as to whether this would be an intense poetic winter story or not based on the cover alone I m still not sure whether it deserves a complete five stars from me but it s definitely up there There was something so raw and honest about this son and father that we hear about that really appealed to me Vale, the son, is messed up because of reasons we hear about throughout the novel His father, Landyn, is struggling as well but was such an endearing character to me But the town that they live in is what appealed to me the most, for some reason It felt wintry, it felt local and it felt right There is definitely to this book than just a beautiful cover It s a unique narrative about anger, loss and guilt and I don t think I ve ever read anything quite like it It impressed me a lot, and I highly recommend that you check out this story which seems simple on the outside but which is so deep and well thought through on the inside.


  3. says:

    Midwinter is one of those stunning books with few characters, sparse words and yet brims with atmosphere, thoughts and packs an emotional punch The tale of a father and son and the void between them caused by the death of Cecelia, wife and mother It looks at nature and the nature of loss, grief and things left unspoken.


  4. says:

    This is probably of a 3.5 star read for me, rounded up, because I stalled in a major way at one point, and didn t think the dips into Zambia were necessary in fact it felt a bit like using the other as the easy villain when there are worse villains at hand alcoholism, poverty, disappointment Other than my minor complaints, I enjoyed the focused story of a father and son dealing with grief and anger and struggling through two major incidents in their lives, one recent than the other It helped to have the chapters alternate between father and son.I would look forward to another book by this author.


  5. says:

    4.5 stars I absolutely loved this Quiet and dark, lovely and brutal, gorgeously written This explores masculinity, adolescence, anger, and grief, and the two voices of a father and son are distinct, raw, and memorable I ve never been so glad to be so thoroughly depressed.


  6. says:

    3.5 It was a definite case of judging a book by its cover I saw a photo of Fiona Melrose s debut novel on Twitter and without reading much about it at all sent off a quick request e mail to the publisher All I knew was that it was about a father and son, that it was set in Suffolk, that a fox featured somewhere, and that Zambia was involved somehow But that was enough to convince me that this was a book I wanted to read.I had assumed the title would refer to the novel s setting although it does take place during the colder months of the year, Midwinter is also the main characters last name Landyn Midwinter and his twenty year old son, Vale, are farmers in the Suffolk countryside They re both joined and divided by the memory of Vale s mum Cecilia s violent death ten years ago in Zambia, where the family had gone to seek their fortune after money troubles on the English farm Vale blames Landyn for Cessie s murder, and the past still fuels explosions between them in the present day.The novel opens with Vale and his best friend, Tom, who were raised like brothers, stealing a boat and going for a drunken nighttime sail This scene reminded me of the cataclysmic maritime sections of Wyl Menmuir s The Many and ends in near disaster Vale is fine, but as Tom spends the next weeks in hospital it becomes clear that he will not escape undamaged Vale and Landyn don t see eye to eye about what Vale owes his friend they also disagree about Landyn s sentimental attitude towards animals farm dogs and chickens, as well as a vixen he is thrilled to see on his land, thinking of her as an emissary from his lost wife.Vale and Landyn narrate the book in alternating first person chapters It s their country voices and the father son theme that drive the story It could never be the end for me and Vale, Landyn says I didn t have a choice in it Been like that how many times since Cessie passed, all beaten and tired and nothing left And yet Vale cut me right where he knew there was fresh meat, the type that doesn t knit Landyn s voice worked better for me, but I liked how the same themes crop up for both men as they go through the motions of everyday farming life guilt over bad decisions, a hot temper, and awkwardness around women.Past and present coexist stylishly through flashbacks to the Midwinters brief time in Africa, and there are several climactic scenes of animal deaths, one quite gruesome something to keep in mind if you are sensitive to such things.At a certain point, though, the novel started feeling repetitive to me Some incidents are recounted from both points of view, but the repetition doesn t add anything I thought the book could stand to lose 40 60 pages page 224 would have served as a perfectly good ending, for instance In fact, the whole thing feels like an early draft it s surprisingly poorly edited in terms of punctuation, typos and compound words.In all, I think this edition of Melrose s debut novel doesn t do her justice Luckily, I was impressed enough by her elegant treatment of fraught relationships and ongoing guilt that I will still be looking out for her future work My thanks to Helen Upton of Little, Brown for the free review copy.Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck.


  7. says:

    A decade ago in Zambia, Cecelia died at home at the hands of a mob It was a death that still affects Landyn and Vale Midwinter, father and son Now back in Suffolk, they are both still raw and haunted by her death and frequently descend into rows and fights It is after one of these major falling outs that Vale ends up getting plastered with a friend of his called Tom They decide to steal a boat and because they are so drunk, just about survive an accident.As they recover from their injuries, the father and son start to look back at the events that brought them to this night It is a painful process for both as they are full of anguish a decade after the event Alternating between their perspectives we learn about the landscape of Zambia and how tough a life it was out there to Suffolk where they are now As each man contemplates the sharp elements of his grief, we learn how they grasp for crumbs of comfort for the lady that they lost all that time ago.It took a little while for me to get into this book The flipping between the father and son and the harsh African and gritty English landscapes is slightly unnerving and the story seeps into you I couldn t quite see where it was going, then something clicked in the story and Melrose s power as a storyteller made this quite a poignant book showing how people deal, or correctly don t cope with, the long term effects of grief I liked the prose too, it has the same wistful melancholy to At Hawthorn time by Melissa Harrison Will definitely be reading Johannesburg by her.


  8. says:

    An astonishing debut Ten years after the mom s tragic death, the unresolved grief of a 20 year old Suffolk lad and his folksy, big hearted farmer of a dad is at the breaking point will these men crack apart, or open A few problems with narrative pacing barely detracted at all from the deep, rich characterization or the novel s emotional power Pa Landyn Midwinter may just be my favorite male character, ever Keep the tissue box handy.


  9. says:

    Unequivocally beautiful but so so harsh and difficult It wasn t the book for me at this moment, and it s darkness made me feel very dark, but Fiona Melrose is a gifted stylist She invokes Suffolk and the rough emotion of a dying kind of rural culture very well It s brutal but painfully heart felt Do read it, when you re feeling strong of mind.


  10. says:

    This is a stunning looking book and one of those stories that slowly creeps into your soul as you watch over these 2 men who are struggling to come to terms with grief and the loss they both feel The father and son aspect worked really well as the story tells of how they both deal not very well in their lives with so many emotions bubbling up after the loss of their loved one They ve tried to avoid their feelings over the years and it reaches a point where their relationship is suffering as they both take their anger out on the wrong people.Not only are they struggling with their personal lives, but they re struggling in their work lives too on the farm and this book really captures the hard times they both face and how they need to confront the sadness and work together to keep a hold of their lives and sanity.I found this took a little while to get into but once I d learnt of the characters I was soon under the spell and it was often a brutal but heartwrenching read made fascinating by the emotions of men, not used to sharing their feelings, being explored Stunning and beautifully written read.