Book Review: Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty @maclavertyB @JonathanCape #bookreview #MondayBlogs

Simply Superb Storytelling

If I was about to be exiled to a desert island and I could take only three books with me MacLaverty’s 1998 novel, Grace Notes, would be one of them. It was my introduction to this author’s work and I’ve been a fan ever since.

But being a fan of MacLaverty’s novels requires patience. It’s been sixteen years since MacLaverty’s last novel as he’s been busy with other forms of writing in the meantime.

However, it’s been worth the wait. Midwinter Break is superb. The quality of the writing is classic MacLaverty, not a word is wasted, but each scene is way more than the sum of its parts.

The story about a long-married, retired couple on a winter holiday in Amsterdam is, on the face of it, a simple one. But it’s a deceptive simplicity. This is an emotional, truthful and intimate story of marital love. MacLaverty is a master storyteller and Midwinter Break is a compact, meaningful and thought-provoking tale that is beautifully told.

Back Cover Blurb:

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar – but over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties which exist between them. 

Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle, worried about their marriage and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories which have begun to resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. 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.

Midwinter Break is published by Jonathan Cape and is available as a hardback, paperback, and as an ebook.