From the author of the Costa Best Novel-shortlisted 'The Elephant Keeper', a poignant imagining of Thomas Hardy's relationship with his last muse.
In the winter of 1924 the most celebrated English writer of the day, 84-year-old Thomas Hardy, was living at his Dorset home of Max Gate with his second wife, Florence.
Aged 45 but in poor health, Florence came to suspect that Hardy was in the grip of a romantic infatuation.
The woman in question was a beautiful local actress, 27-year-old Gertrude Bugler, who was playing Tess in the first dramatic adaptation of Hardy's most famous novel, 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'.
Inspired by these events, 'Winter' is a brilliantly realised portrait of an old man and his imaginative life; the life that has brought him fame and wealth, but that condemns him to living lives he can't hope to lead, and reliving those he thought he once led.
It is also, though, about the women who now surround him: the middle-aged, childless woman who thought she would find happiness as his handmaiden; and the young actress, with her youthful ambitions and desires, who came between them.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 15/01/2015
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780007516087
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Review by starbox
"How many years were left before Death laid its cold hand upon his shoulder?", 25 June 2015This review is from: Winter (Paperback)A wonderful novel, focussing on a winter three years before the death of author Thomas Hardy. Unhappily married to a depressed, rather neurotic woman much younger than him, Hardy becomes charmed with local girl Gertrude Bugler. She is part of the local amateur dramatic group, where Hardy meets her in their performance of 'Tess'. As he plans to help her get the lead role when the play is put on in London, his wife, Florence, is becoming obsessively jealous...Nicholson tells the story in chapters narrated alternately by Florence, Gertrude and by an all-knowing narrator, who can describe Hardy's thoughts and imaginings. There are vivid, Hardy-esque descriptions of the countryside and the old-fashioned house - which he loves but which Florence does not. And the thoughts of the 84 year old as he ponders his imminent demise, his final chance of happiness, are very moving and convincing.I absolutely loved this book and recommend it.