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Midwinter Break
Cover of Midwinter Break
Midwinter Break
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A Guardian / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Herald Scotland / Mail on Sunday Book of the Year
Winner of the Bord Gáis Novel of the Year

'Midwinter Break is a work of extraordinary emotional precision and sympathy, about coming to terms – to an honest reckoning – with love and the loss of love, with memory and pain...this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers' Colm Tóibín

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly to Amsterdam for a midwinter break. A holiday to refresh the senses, to see the sights and to generally take stock of what remains of their lives. But amongst the wintry streets and icy canals we see their relationship fracturing beneath the surface. And when memories re-emerge of a troubled time in their native Ireland things begin to fall apart. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

A Guardian / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Herald Scotland / Mail on Sunday Book of the Year
Winner of the Bord Gáis Novel of the Year

'Midwinter Break is a work of extraordinary emotional precision and sympathy, about coming to terms – to an honest reckoning – with love and the loss of love, with memory and pain...this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers' Colm Tóibín

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly to Amsterdam for a midwinter break. A holiday to refresh the senses, to see the sights and to generally take stock of what remains of their lives. But amongst the wintry streets and icy canals we see their relationship fracturing beneath the surface. And when memories re-emerge of a troubled time in their native Ireland things begin to fall apart. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

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About the Author-
  • Bernard MacLaverty lives in Glasgow. He has written five collections of stories and four other novels, including Grace Notes which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award. He has written versions of his fiction for other media – radio and television plays, screenplays and libretti.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 26, 2017
    The fifth novel from Booker finalist MacLaverty is a quietly powerful elegy that chides two finely-wrought characters for not being capable of defining what they value most in life. Gerry and Stella, in a possibly final stage of their married life—a life that included a near-tragic brush with the Troubles back in their native Northern Ireland—take a winter trip from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam, a journey that starts as a holiday but ends a crucible. In the cold and gloom, amid puzzling ennui that has gripped Stella, Gerry, an architect and alcoholic, is a keen, if cynical, observer of a world he finds bemusing but less larded with burdensome meaning than does Stella. With a kind of existential humor he teases his wife about her religious fervor. Stella, meanwhile, is dead serious about her Catholicism, and she has secretly planned the holiday as a first step toward leaving Gerry. She has heard of a group of lay nuns who reside in Amsterdam, and she steals away one morning to pay a visit, thinking she might ask to join them. Stella is the alpha partner in this eroded relationship, but it is Gerry’s thoughts, about everything, upon which we rely for wisdom. Because the reader knows what Stella intends before Gerry does, his every observation is shot through with melancholy; his simple declaration of devotion on this graceful novel’s final page is exquisite.

  • Herald Scotland, Books of the Year "A gem of a novel."
  • Herald Scotland, Books of the Year "Alive with utterly convincing actuality, this affecting, funny and acute book is a triumph of quiet masterliness."
  • Guardian, Books of the Year "Its portrayal of the tightening vice of alcohol addiction is unparalleled. But its profound exploration of its love, companionship, faith, work and our search for meaning in life made it a tender masterpiece, and one of the year's essential reads."
  • Sunday Times, Books of the Year "MacLaverty doesn't publish novels very often but when he does they are outstanding."
  • Herald Scotland, Books of the Year "It's an immersive and astonishing book."
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    Random House
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Midwinter Break
Midwinter Break
Bernard Maclaverty
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