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.
Comments from the judges:
In Midwinter Break, a novel about a long-married couple in their twilight years, Bernard MacLaverty presents a world of both extreme intensity and profound silence. This ostensibly simply-structured story takes place between Gerry and Stella over a long weekend trip to Amsterdam. The narrative elucidates the incredible richness in humanity: love, doubt, memories, and forgetfulness – their forty years together become the four-day journey narrated in this book. MacLaverty also interrogates the being of time in a seasoned and elegant manner: its substance, resilience, and articulation. This novel is a timely piece that exemplifies fiction’s power to distill and encapsulate.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
A quietly devastating novel that explores questions of time and humanity with the utmost technical skill harnessed to the prose of undemonstrative clarity and precision.
The long overdue latest novel by Bernard MacLaverty. Heart-rending look at human love after a forty-year marriage. Written with wit and sadness, the novel, set in Amsterdam, also has flashbacks to a troubled Northern Ireland. Beautifully written romantic texts yet situations are ordinary and relative to every reader. A recommended read….definitely!
This book is about a retired couple who take a long weekend trip to the diversity of Amsterdam, turning it into an intimate portrait of a life lived and an enduring relationship, warts and all. The author has the ability to make the seemingly mundane interesting.
Forty years after his first book, MacLaverty has written his masterpiece.
MacLaverty is remarkable when it comes to revealing the minutiae of a long-married couple’s life. This is a closely observed, deeply sympathetic rendering of a relationship and the fissures that threaten to wreck it. Written with accurate, compassionate observation; effortlessly elegant writing; results in a tender, intimate, heartrending story.
Gerry and Stella Gilmore, a long-married couple travel to Amsterdam, ostensibly for a romantic long weekend. Their son is grown and moved to Canada and now they find little to distract themselves from painful events in the past. Stella, who is devoutly Catholic is secretly searching for a way to deepen her faith while Gerry takes refuge in drink. Events come to a head when each is faced with revealing what they really want.