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. Full of scenes that are rendered with exquisite accuracy and care, allowing the most detailed physical descriptions to be placed against the possibility of a rich spiritual life, this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers.' Colm Tóibín
Sixteen years on from his last novel, Bernard MacLaverty reminds us why he is regarded as one of the greatest living Irish writers. 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.
Bernard MacLaverty is a master storyteller, and Midwinter Break is the essential MacLaverty novel: accurate, compassionate observation, effortlessly elegant writing and a tender, intimate, heart-rending story - but it is also a profound examination of human love and how we live together, a chamber piece of real resonance and power. Forty years on from his first book, Bernard MacLaverty has written his masterpiece.
Short-listed for Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year 2017 (UK).
"MacLaverty is a sweetly astute writer, a master of fine detail, compassing the quotidian, the intimate and the sacred. Midwinter Break shows us how ordinary and immense love can be." -- Anne Enright "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. Full of scenes that are rendered with exquisite accuracy and care, allowing the most detailed physical descriptions to be placed against the possibility of a rich spiritual life, this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers." -- Colm Toibin "MacLaverty's prose is deceptively simple and rewardingly straight-forward and efficient. But what he writes about in this much anticipated novel - the resilience and stress-lines of human love experienced over much time - is anything but simple and straight-forward. It's the stuff of life." -- Richard Ford "As always in MacLaverty's pages, everything is alive with absorbing actuality. Characterisation has total credibility. Dialogue is pitch-perfect. Both Stella and Gerry are likeable and admirable... Ripples of wit and shrewd perception play over the novel's scenes. Intelligent relish of life's pleasures is appealingly conveyed... Damage done by toxic ideology is the persisting theme in all MacLaverty's fiction. And he has never dealt with it more powerfully, subtly and affectingly than here." -- Peter Kemp * Sunday Times * "It is extraordinary how his blunt, declarative sentences translate the fiddly minutiae of life... into utterly gripping prose... This unflinching attention to the textural detail of minute-by-minute existence slowly builds into a profound exploration of the biggest themes in both public and private life... A remarkable late flowering... This is a quietly brilliant novel, which makes for essential reading at any stage of life." -- Justine Jordan * Guardian *