Regardless of snow or rain it is time to enjoy the season. What better way is there to do that than to curl up inside with a good book and read about winter?
The Shining (1977) by Stephen King
Now this is a book that will grab you and not let go till you reach its unsettling conclusion. The basic plot may be familiar to most. It follows the author Jack Torrance who hopes that a winter looking after the grand Overview Hotel when closed alone with his family is exactly what they and his writing need. However, the initially hopeful family is met with sinister forces at the hotel secluded in the mountains. For those that have seen the film, the novel will offer context and deeper psychological layers to what is a brilliant but somewhat superficial adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. For those completely unfamiliar with the story I especially recommend this book. Winter is oddly the time for gothic, spooky tales and this one is perfect. It is suspenseful, well-written and terrifying. Do not read alone after dark.
The Snow Child (2011) by Eowyn Iwey
To contrast the iconic but hardly cosy King novel, I recommend The Snow Child. It is also the most «wintery» of the books suggested here. You will have to look long to find a book with more vivid descriptions of the cold, yet beautiful season. The story is inspired by a fairytale of the same name, and depicts an elderly couple living in Alaska during the 1920s, making a rough yet happy living if not for their childlessness. One day they fashion a child out of snow only to find a living girl on their property the next day. The book balances elegantly between fantasy and reality, always making you question whether the girl was created by magic or simply appeared by chance. Iwey evokes the Alaskan landscape beautifully and uses it to emphasize the loneliness of the old couple and the mystery of the little girl they find. The narrative is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
The Winter Ghosts (2009) by Kate Mosse
The Winter Ghosts is somewhere between The Shining and The Snow Child. The mood is more closer to the latter, but it too features a chilling ghost story. As is Mosse’s style. It makes keen use of history and mystery to create its ghostly atmosphere. It follows Freddie, a young man travelling in France while mourning the loss of his brother to WW1. Similar to Labyrinth (2005), French history and medieval religious strife is prominent but in a subtler, more elegant fashion. It is the background of a tale of mourning and loss rather than the main focus. If you are not a fan of Mosse’s admittedly indulgent writing style this novel will not make you a convert, but it is a short, touching and haunting tale, easily consumed in a day or two.
Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy
Now this is not a winter novel per se. It is rather the length that suits winter well. While many emphasize War and Peace as Tolstoy’s crowning achievement, Anna Karenina is the Tolstoy novel you may actually enjoy reading. While the scandalous tale of the titular heroine and her affair is the more known, the secondary protagonist Levin’s (not Lenin, importantly) story is the one that truly connects with the reader, and who is by far the more sympathetic character. Why read this book? Not only will it earn you considerable bragging rights and pride, it is a deeply intelligent, surprisingly witty and emotionally captivating tale of one protagonist’s tragic fall from grace and one’s journey of self-discovery set against the grandiose backdrop of early 19th century Russia.
Foto: Sheba Blake Publishing