Book Review: Midwinter by Fiona Melrose

Today I review Midwinter by Fiona Melrose, a heart-breaking story about a farming family, set between Suffolk and Zambia. A story of grief, guilt and the weight of family love. 

Title: Midwinter
Author: Fiona Melrose
Published: November 2nd 2016 by Corsair

Blurb: Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business.

But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now.

Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals - and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection.

Alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame and lost opportunities. Ultimately it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.

Review: Midwinter is like nothing I've read in a long while. It felt a bit like there was no beginning and no end to the story, more like the author chose a period of time in the life of the main characters and told their stories during that time. This is something I found really interesting at the beginning of the book: getting to know Vale, his father, and his best friend, trying to understand their actions and their feelings. But as the story progressed and you knew about their past, I kind of lost interest in them.

Midwinter has an undercurrent of sadness during the whole story that didn't help me warm up to the characters. I cared about them and wanted a better life for them but it was difficult to really connect with them. Probably because they didn't even know how to connect with each other themselves. The atmosphere between father and son was always weird, charged with guilt and resentment and I just wanted for them to sit with each other and talk.

One thing I found quite fascinating in this story though was its evocative power. The description of places, nature and its fauna, were generous and detailed. I could easily picture the plantations in Zambia and the farm in Suffolk. But as I said, I didn't really connected with the story itself. It's well crafted and interesting enough, and I really thing it conveys grief and guilt really well but I found it a bit boring at the end, so I have a bit of a mixed opinion on this one. 

Rating: 3 stars

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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