Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE
In Bernard MacLaverty’s new novel a couple in their 70s go for a “long-weekend, winter break in Amsterdam”, said Peter Kemp in The Sunday Times. Like MacLaverty himself, both Gerry and Stella “moved from Belfast to Scotland in the 1970s to escape Ulster’s sectarian violence”. Although outwardly happy – their “shared jokes” testify to that – their relationship is in jeopardy, most obviously owing to Gerry’s “furtive heavy drinking”, but also because of a slowly disclosed trauma from the 1970s. As ever with MacLaverty, “everything is alive with absorbing actuality”. This is a work of “quiet masterliness”.
Novels about city trips inevitably involve some “slow pedalling”, said Miranda France in the Literary Review. Yet MacLaverty has the ability to “make anything interesting” – even the “search for a boarding pass in the duty-free shop”. Over his 40-year career, MacLaverty has “written often about the distance between couples”, as well as the fall-out from the Troubles, said Justine Jordan in The Guardian. “Midwinter Break reads as both a summation of his themes and a remarkable late flowering.”