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 that 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 that 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....
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Midwinter Break Reviews
Threescore Years and Then . . . ?
And did you get whatThis poem, "Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver, is just about the last thing he ever wrote. Bernard MacLaverty quotes it near the end of his beautiful novel, and it distills the essence of the entire book. But it comes at a moment of despair; any transcendence is hard won and must be taken partly on faith. The spiritual ar ...more
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Bernard MacLaverty is a sublime writer and Midwinter Break is as good as anything he has ever written.
Gerry and Stella Gilmore are a long-married couple of pensionable age, living in Glasgow but originally from the north of Ireland. Gerry is fond of a nightcap and Stella has quite a strong Catholic faith. They know one another inside out. They have decided to take a mid-winter break to Amsterdam, perhaps to celebrate their enduring marriage.
Gradually, and gently, we start to see the flaws in the ...more
I do not write plot summaries. The publicist has done a fine job with the one provided by the publisher.
Stella and Gerry are an “old married couple,” in their upper sixties, married for at least forty years. Both are set in their ways, both accommodate their partner’s habits, for better or worse. One senses and witnesses acts of love and compassion.
But both are living with deep-rooted frustrations which are acted out by each on the other (perhaps Gerry more than Stella). Gerry trained as an arch ...more
"There are important questions to be answered. How can we best live our lives? How can we live good lives"?(90)
Stella is the victim of a life changing event. She continues to contemplate the meaning of life in the light of her unfortunate experience, and is no nearer to finding any answers as the book closes.
Midwinter Break leaves this reader with a similar feeling that the huge cracks in the marriage of Stella and Gerry are unresolvable.
This is such an Irish book. The main events affecting the ...more
This is the story of Gerry and Stella, in their early sixties, off on a 4-day holiday to Amsterdam. They are at pivotal moment in their lives and their marriage. Gerry is an alchoholic and Stella is fed up and looking to lead a more purposeful and spiritual life.
This was well-written but it really dragged for me, especially toward the end. I don't know how Gerry and Stella felt, but this seemed like the longest vacation in history. Too much blah blah blah. The last quarter of the book was more s ...more
The family is raised, the work’s done. That can’t be it, can it? There’s ten or twenty years left over, as it were. We’ve cut the life of our cloth wrongly. It doesn’t fit …. I have a sense of drift. I want to do something with the time I have left. Other than watch you drink
This book is the story of a midwinter break taken in Amsterdam by a retired couple Gerry and Stella – Gerry and Stella are a Northern Irish Catholic Couple now living in Glasgow.
The title however also conveyed to me the es ...more
Bernard MacLaverty is an Irish author - new to me. His writing is impeccable and intimate. He paints a clear portrait of a retired middle age married couple.
However, although I appreciate the authors understanding of this relationship - which we observed up close and personal - I didn't actually enjoy the plot or the themes in this novel. My own personal beliefs are so very different from both Stella and Gerry - I didn't have much empathy for them.
I've read many books about married couples- you ...more
This is a profoundly moving and perceptive examination of the anatomy of a long marriage. Gerry and Stella Gilmore are retired, now living in Scotland, and facing the midwinter of their lives and their marriage. Gerry, once an architect, a mediocre one in his estimation, cannot get through a day without his drinking but his love for his wife is plain to see. Stella was a teacher, but her son and grandson live in Canada, leaving her feeling she needs more in her life and Gerry is not enough. They ...more