Read Winter by ChristopherNicholson Online


The new novel from the author of the Costa Best Novel-shortlisted 'The Elephant Keeper'. 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 womanThe new novel from the author of the Costa Best Novel-shortlisted 'The Elephant Keeper'. 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....

Title : Winter
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007516070
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 247 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Winter Reviews

  • Marita
    2018-12-11 01:13

    "A door of the house opened, and out stepped an old man, who stood motionless on the gravel drive. From a distance, he seemed less a living human being than a spectre who had temporarily chosen to haunt the spot where he had once lived. The textures of the fog drained the substance from him so thoroughly that it might not have been surprising had he faded entirely from view. With him, and equally ghostly, was a dog, a white terrier."The old man, and thus is he referred to throughout this novel, is the eighty four year old Thomas Hardy. Set in his ways, he follows a strict routine and spends much of his day writing. Sharing his life are Florence his wife and Wessex (or Wessie) the dog.But beneath this apparent simplicity there is a triangle of tensions:Hardy favours Gertrude (Gertie) Bugler for his stage adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Gertie reminds him of the beautiful milkmaid he had seen many years before and who had in fact inspired his vision of Tess. "Presently the luminous shapes of the dairymaids, five in number, each one carrying a stool and a bucket, came into view as they made their way from the barton towards the river. To his gaze, they seemed to him as much spiritual as physical beings; humble country lasses, but also angels, he thought to himself. Among them was one whose beauty stood out from the rest, and who fastened on his mind with the power of a dream: a girl with long dark hair and pale features."It just so happens that Gertie is the milkmaid Augusta's daughter. #Florence is Hardy's second wife and about half his age."She must have been half his age, while he was old enough to be her father. But what people don’t realise is that he had a quite youthful manner, whereas the reverse was true of her. She seemed much older than she was. Even so, the gap in age did make you wonder."Florence has a heap of problems. She feels used and unloved. She wishes they had a child and she lavishes her affections on the dog. She is a hypochondriac. She is peevish and resentful. She is jealous, very jealous. She says to herself: "O Florence, these are bitter thoughts and you are not a bitter person; you must not give yourself up to bitterness." But bitter is exactly what she is. And, oh, how she hates the trees around the house.#Gertie is young, married and has a baby. She is delighted to be chosen for the role of Tess and to be regarded a friend of the famous author. She is romantically inclined and compares her life with those of Hardy's heroines and imagines herself as Eustacia or Bathsheba.##Hardy, well he loves those trees. And he is determined that Gertie should be his Tess, Tess who represents an elusive but ideal woman. "It was better for Augusta to remain as he had seen her that dawn in the mist, a quintessence of unattainable, unapproachable beauty, never to be forgotten." To Florence Gertie is all too real and she perceives her as a threat. There is affection between Hardy and Florence, but there is also misunderstanding. "However, if he had once thought of Florence as his Beatrice, he no longer did so. Either she had changed, or he had changed, or both of them had changed." Marriage is a much discussed topic in the novel.The thoughts and feelings of Hardy, Florence and Gertie are narrated in alternating chapters, but it is Florence's character which is most strongly portrayed. Perhaps deliberately so, as Hardy is somewhat phlegmatic, his mind on his poetry, and he cannot understand what all the fuss is about, and Gertie is simply absorbed with her acting, her family and her friendship with Hardy.

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-11-27 21:08

    3.5 This is not an action packed novel, no car chases, murders or huge emotional scenes. This is a quiet, soulful look at the last years of the writer and poet Thomas Hardy and his second wife.Forty years previously while walking through the country he saw a beautiful dark haired milkmaid who he never met but she often haunted his thoughts. He would base the character of Tess on this young girl.Now 84, he is stuck in his routines, no longer writing novels but writing poetry, he lives with his wife and dog Essex. He encounters another young girl who fascinated him, Gertrude Bugler, who in an ironic turn of fate turns out to be the daughter of his milkmaid of old. He agrees form the first time to have Tess performed by an amateur theater with Gertrude in the role of Tess.We hear from Thomas, his very unhappy wife, almost half his age and Gertrude in alternate chapters. The prose it outstanding, loved the descriptions of the countryside and the antics of the little dog Essex. An elderly man's infatuation, a wife's jealousy and a young woman with stage ambitions set the stage. This will appeal best to those with an interest in Thomas Hardy and his writings. It is very slowly paced and is an introspective look at a man, an infatuation and a marriage in crisis.

  • Bill
    2018-11-20 01:18

    This is an historical novel about Thomas Hardy, the famous author. In this book, Hardy is 84 years old and living in his house in the country, where he has lived for 40 years. He is living with his second wife, Florence, who is 40 years younger than him.Hardy becomes besotted with Gertrude Bulger, a 25 year old girl, who plays Tess in a local adaptation of his novel into a play. He even writes her love poems, which of course, does not make Florence very happy.At times the writing is very beautiful, especially when describing the English countryside or the many species of birds that inhabit it. However, there is really little or no discernible plot and the writing at times is very repetitious. Florence's desire to have the trees surrounding the house either cut back or cut down altogether must be mentioned at least a dozen times. And at one point the word beautiful is used 7 times in one short paragraph. Presumably the author did this deliberately for some reason, but I just found it very annoying.In short. this is a passable novel, but would probably be of more interest to real fans of Thomas Hardy. I have to admit that I have never read any of Hardy's novels, a situation I must rectify at some point, as I would hope that they would be better than this book.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-12-07 02:20 Inspired by the novel 'Winter' by Christopher Nicholson and dramatised by Sara Davies.The most famous writer of his day is living in chilly seclusion in Dorset with his second wife and former secretary, Florence. Between these two frozen hearts comes the talented amateur actress Gertrude Bugler, playing Tess in the first production of Hardy's play, provoking local and national fascination.Florence determines to put a stop to what she sees as Hardy's ludicrous infatuation with the young woman. Gertie is caught in the middle, longing to play Tess on the London stage.Florence Hardy often found herself dealing with the many journalists and admirers who wanted access to her celebrated husband. Caught off-guard, Thomas has agreed to be the subject of a fly-on-the- wall documentary, but he hands the interviewer on to his wife, who reveals more than she intends about her husband's fascination with Gertrude.Vibrant performances and a sensitive, unusual treatment bring new light to a story that continues to fascinate.Florence DugdaleGertrude BuglerFlorence Hardy Pippa HaywoodGertude Bugler Katy SobeyThomas Hardy Nicholas FarrellElsie Alex TregearWessex Bella

  • Rebecca Foster
    2018-11-27 23:23

    A perfect novel about a few months of Thomas Hardy’s later life. On the surface it’s the story of a rather odd love triangle: the octogenarian Hardy was infatuated with Gertrude Bugler, a local Dorset actress (and daughter of a dark-haired milkmaid who had bewitched him decades earlier) who had agreed to play Tess on the London stage; his neurotic second wife, Florence, got wind of his feelings and jealously decided to sabotage Gertie. Underneath, I found this to be a deeply moving book about fear – of death, but also of not having lived the way you wanted and meant to.The perspective moves between Florence and Gertie in the first person and an omniscient third-person narrator. Chapters 1, 6 and 8, in particular, are a pitch-perfect pastiche of Hardy’s style, referring to the author simply as “the old man.” I especially liked the line “The long years ahead, the years in which he would play no part save as a memory, stretched before him like a procession of lamps leading into a dark nebulousness.”A bleak country winter is the perfect setting for a story of personal decay and a marriage grown cold. Unlike the much weaker Max Gate, this brought back vivid memories of my visit to Hardy’s house in 2004 (by chance, I was there at the same time as novelist Vikram Seth and got to accompany him for a quick look into Hardy’s study, not part of the usual tour) and coincided with my own vision of who Hardy was.

  • Issicratea
    2018-12-08 22:13

    This quiet, well-crafted novel focuses tightly on an episode in the winter of Thomas Hardy’s life, three years before his death in 1928 at the age of eighty-seven. Although he had given up writing fiction by this point, Hardy was involved in the staging of dramatized versions of some of his novels by a local acting troupe in Dorchester, the Hardy Players. The novel explores Hardy’s relationship with the troupe’s leading lady, the beautiful and charismatic (though uneuphoniously named) Gertrude Bugler: a relationship sufficiently warm to arouse the jealousy of his unhappy second wife, Florence Dugdale Hardy.Here are Hardy and Florence in the year of their marriage, 1914:And here is Gertrude:That’s just about it where the plot is concerned; and the threesome just named are pretty much the only characters, despite bit-part appearances by cultural luminaries like Sydney Cockerell, J. M.Barrie and Lawrence of Arabia (weirdly), and more substantial roles for Hardy’s fox-terrier, Wessex, and his brooding Dorset house, Max Gate. Winter is written multi-perspectivally, so we get the view from all three sides of the peculiar love-triangle made up by Hardy, Florence, and Gertrude. Nicholson makes the rather odd choice of narrating the Hardy passages in the third person, speaking of Hardy as “the old man,” while Florence is given a present-tense narration (in the sense that her voice is contemporaneous with the events narrated), and Gertrude is given a retrospective narration, looking back on her young self from an undefined late-ish middle age. Of these three narrative strands, that voiced by Florence was certainly the standout for me, and far the most interesting aspect of the novel. As portrayed by Nicholson (who respects the historical evidence pretty closely), Florence is anxious, jealous, cranky, hypochondriac, hypersensitive, and generally a bit of a nightmare to live with; yet, to Nicholson’s credit, we can understand all too well how she has become the way she is. Nicholson portrays her as an intelligent woman, in quiet desperation at her blighted life, but without the strength of will to do anything about it. He also invests her voice with a spiky, sarcastic energy that cuts against its dreariness. She is especially incisive on Hardy’s postmortem idealization of his first wife, Emma, who became a powerful poetic muse and myth for him once she had had the decency to remove herself physically from his life. I felt that writing as Florence rather freed Nicholson up; he seems considerably less sure in the other strands of the novel. The third-person Hardy narration is written in a curious, semi-archaic diction presumably intended to evoke Hardy’s own voice. It may be that the emotionally distancing effect of this style is supposed to mimic the pyschological remoteness of which Florence complained in her husband, but it can be rather deadening on the page, especially when Nicholson hits a flat patch (“One feature of his personality was that he had always found himself to be most enamoured of churches when they were empty.” )I had read Hardy’s early novel Desperate Remedies with pleasure shortly before embarking on this, so I had Hardy’s own novelistic voice in my head as I was reading. This rather spoiled for me Nicholson’s attempts at Hardyesque passages of lyric natural description, even though some of them are nice in themselves (frost “stealing through the starry night … crisping the fallen leaves in wood and copse;” old gravestones in a country churchyard, with their “now blank faces covered in pincushions of moss, dew-soaked spiders’ webs and the irregular, frilly growths of rusty pink lichens.”) I don’t think this was quite the novel for me, but there was still quite a lot that I enjoyed about it. I would certainly read Nicholson again.

  • Ali
    2018-11-18 21:17

    Drawing heavily on what is known about Thomas Hardy’s later years and the first production of the play ‘Tess’ –Christopher Nicholson has written a novel that explores many of themes which might have interested Hardy himself. I am a little nervous perhaps, of novels written about real people – and I don’t mean historical figures from so far away a time as to make them almost fictional like anyway (is that just me?) but those people who lived in times not so very long ago – who we still feel we can almost reach out to, and about whom we think we know so much already. I was slightly cured of that fear when I read and absolutely loved Helen Dunmore’s Zennor in Darkness – which features D H Lawrence and his wife. This novel however is about Thomas Hardy and his second wife Florence – set in the last few years of his life, when he and Florence had been married ten years. I was a little concerned I suppose at the Thomas Hardy I would encounter in this book, fiction though it is, it isn’t as though I believe he and I would have been great mates should we ever have met – I think that unlikely – but I wanted still to like him. Incredibly I do – I say incredibly, because Christopher Nicholson hasn’t made either Hardy or Florence especially sympathetic, Hardy emerges as an obstinate, slightly delusional old man, set in his ways and Florence is rather hysterical and a little shrewish at times. Yet still I love Thomas Hardy – it seems I cannot be cured.In the 1920’s Thomas Hardy adapted his favourite novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles for the Hardy Players – a Dorset amateur dramatic group which still exists today, at least they seem to have been reformed a few years ago. Gertrude Bugler was cast to play Tess; she was a Dorset girl, who had been locally acclaimed as an actress of real ability. Gertie was the daughter of Augustus Way who years earlier as an eighteen year old milkmaid had been Hardy’s inspiration for Tess. This of course is a tantalising glimpse into the possible thinking of the great man. Augustus/Gertie/Tess are inextricably linked and tangled up with each other. So in a way this novel is a wonderful companion read to The Well Beloved – the next read in my ongoing Hardy reading challenge – a novel I have read twice before though not for a long time. Hardy desperately wanted Gertie to take the play to London, and perform it at the famous Haymarket theatre. This was a dream come true for Gertie, although it would mean leaving her husband and young baby for a month. However this was destined never to happen, Florence Hardy had become so jealous of Gertie that she put a stop to Gertrude Bugler’s playing Tess in London. It seems that all this is true, and has provided Christopher Nicholson with a wonderful story on which to build his novel.Winter – named for the time of year the story is set and more importantly the stage of Hardy’s life it concerns, is a beautifully constructed, subtly complex little novel. Exploring themes of marriage, desire, ageing and mortality, it is a wonderfully psychological examination of one of England’s best and most loved writers (oh I know there are Hardy haters out there I like to ignore the fact). At Max Gate – Hardy’s country home he and Florence lead a largely reclusive life with their adored little dog Wessex. Thomas Hardy is eighty four, his wife only forty six – but in poor health she seems older. As the novel opens the couple await a visit to their home by Gertrude Bugler. Gertie threatens the equilibrium of their quiet life; she is beautiful, ambitious and in Hardy’s mind embodies the spirit of Tess – his favourite heroine. As plans for transferring the play to London start to take shape, Hardy is often preoccupied with thoughts of his own mortality – going as far as picturing his own funeral in minute detail, though even here his thoughts return to the Tess/Gertie/Augustus ideal.“Yet the one who caught his attention as the crowd thinned was a woman somewhat like Gertie but entirely she, a woman whom he had never seen before, but whom he seemed to know with an intimacy which ran to the bone; the ideal woman, the well-beloved, the Shelleyan avatar of whom he had so long dreamed and who had haunted every novel he had ever written. Beneath a wide black hat she gazed into the grave before slowly raising her head as if to bid him a final farewell. Her precise features remained elusive, for her face was veiled, yet he had no doubt that she had full knowledge of his presence, and he would have liked to step forward, or to make at least, some corresponding gesture, but found himself unable. Then she and all other members of the human race faded from view, and he was left alone by the yew tree, in the winter wind.”Florence meanwhile already obsessed with the idea that the thick trees which surround Max gate are affecting her health, frustrated at her husband’s refusal to have them cut back, now becomes convinced that he is planning on betraying her with Gertie Bugler. Florence’s moods become increasingly erratic, making whispered telephone calls, and finally paying a secret visit to Gertie Bugler at her home to beg her to turn down the London role. This is a superb novel, beautifully written, profound and deeply affecting. This is Christopher Nicholson’s third novel, although the first of his I have read, and I probably wouldn’t have read him at all if her hadn’t gone out and written a novel about my favourite novelist, I am so glad I have encountered him.

  • Canadian Reader
    2018-11-26 23:31

    In WINTER, Christopher Nicholson explores a brief period in author Thomas Hardy's 85th year, when he was infatuated with the young Dorset woman, Gertrude Bugler, who had played Tess in the local Hardy players' dramatic version of the famous writer's favourite novel. As Nicholson's book opens, Hardy is offering Gertrude the role of Tess in the London Haymarket Theatre production of the play. Nicholson also gives us scenes of Hardy reflecting--on his life, his approaching death, his first marriage, and the natural world. WINTER, however, is less an exploration of Hardy himself than it is a study of his claustrophobic and unhappy second marriage. There are as many chapters devoted to Florence--Hardy's second wife, who at age 45 is 40 years Hardy's junior--as there are to Hardy. Florence is apparently unwell, having recently had surgery on her neck to remove what she (fancifully) believes is cancer caused by spores from the oppressive trees that crowd Max Gate (their house in Dorchester). Hardy refers to Florence's "neuritis" but we would probably call it "neurosis." Not being familiar with the actual details of Hardy's second marriage nor with his second wife's health complaints, it sounded to me as though Florence was plagued by hypothyroidism, which, untreated, makes one feel depressed, cold, and tired. This is not to say that Florence's sense of being unloved, unappreciated, intensely insecure and jealous of her husband's preoccupation with a young woman sixty years his junior were not very real and even justified. Even so, reading page after page of a rejected wife's complaints and dissatisfaction become tiresome after a while.WINTER is otherwise a beautifully written, melancholy work of biographical fiction. It will most appeal to readers who have some familiarity with Hardy's novels and poetry. Not having read Hardy in many years, the book made me want to revisit his novels. However, Nicholson's novel also made me realize that though Florence is not a character that the reader particularly warms to (her chapters are a litany of complaints and cries of being unloved, unfulfilled, and having missed out) it cannot have been easy living with the great writer.Rating 3.5 out of five. I have rounded down to 3 stars,

  • Roger Brunyate
    2018-11-11 22:19

    Hardy at MidnightOr if the secret ministry of frostShall hang them up in silent icicles,Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.Towards the end of this elegiac novel by Christopher Nicholson, the aged Thomas Hardy reads one of his favorite poems, Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight," whose closing lines I quote above. It is an appropriate image. The author, now 84, has his novels and most of his poetry behind him, although he will publish one more collection, the aptly named "Winter Words." He spends the winter of his life mainly thinking back on the past, on the changes that have come to his beloved Wessex, and the people whom he might have loved passing by on the other side of life's road. He lives in a kind of freeze himself, sitting alone in the study in his big gloomy house, unable to give his much younger second wife Florence the love she needs. Coleridge's "silent icicles" are apt indeed. Yet for all this, Nicholson's book is full of beauty, those icicles "quietly shining to the quiet moon." And much of the beauty comes from the author's masterly handling of prose, very much imbued with the regretful spirit of Hardy's late verse.It is, nonetheless, a simple style. A review from The Guardian praises it for its inconspicuousness, its "refusal to astonish." By picking out a section to quote, I know I am doing Nicholson a disservice, highlighting a passage that the author wanted simply to take its place in the texture. But I do so since it says a lot about the aging Hardy also—Hardy not yet at midnight but at dusk: "The maids had not yet lit the lamps. He might have rung the bell and summoned them to do so, or he might have lit them himself, but for the moment he preferred to remain in the twilight. This was his favorite time of day, when the interaction between the physical and spiritual seemed strongest, when the barriers that were supposed to part the living and the dead dissolved into nothing…."The story is all true. Hardy has written a stage adaptation of his Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and is much taken with the amateur actress who plays the title character in its local premiere, Gertie Bugler. A beautiful young woman in her early twenties, it turns out that she is the daughter of the milkmaid who, seen only from a distance, was Hardy's inspiration for the original novel. Now the author wants Gertie to have the role when the play opens professionally in London. But the neurotic Florence envies her health and happiness, and is not prepared to see this butcher's wife receive the attention and acclaim she had longed for in vain from her own husband.Florence and Thomas Hardy may love one another, but they cannot communicate anything of importance. Yet Nicholson communicates for them, alternating overlapping chapters from each of their points of view (in the first person for her and third person for him), with two interspersed chapters by Gertie, written in the 1960s, that somehow manage to put it all in perspective. It is a tragedy of a sort, of jealousy, thwarted aspirations, and misplaced love. Yet, in Nicholson's telling, Hardy at midnight is not Hardy in the dark. That quiet moon still shines.

  • Mary-Ellen Lynn
    2018-11-26 05:27

    Thomas Hardy had a very particular view of marriage; he was married twice and in neither case very happily. It is a common joke among Hardy enthusiasts that Hardy’s idea of a good wife was a dead wife. He had a troubled relationship with his first wife, Emma Gifford, but her death inspired him to write a volume of beautiful love poetry, much to the annoyance of his second wife. Thirty-nine years his junior, Florence was a volatile and jealous woman when it came to Hardy’s interest in other women, dead and alive. Winter offers the reader a window into a moment of crisis in their relationship, set amid the drama of an amateur stage production of Hardy’s novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The part of Tess is to be played by a young farmer’s wife from Beaminster, Gertrude Bugler. Bugler’s mother Augusta happens to have been Hardy’s original source of inspiration for the character of Tess. Florence is intensely jealous of the beautiful young actress and her husband’s interest in her. Martin Seymour-Smith’s biography of the author went quite a way in painting Florence as a devious hysterical woman but Christopher Nicholson gives her a new voice. He tells the events of the story through three points of view: Hardy, who is stubbornly detached from his wife’s vociferous unhappiness; Gertrude, who is elated to be playing Tess on the stage but is torn between her career and her devotion to her family; and Florence, who acts out of spite, feeling herself to be an invisible wife living in the shadow of her husband’s passion for his first wife and a young milk maid, brought back to death (so to speak) in the form of Gertrude. Nicholson voices Florence’s despair at her 84 year old husband’s inclination to live in the past. Hardy will not listen to reason: “Obstinacy is ingrained into his very nature. It blinds him to common sense. It makes him deaf to all persuasion.” He has also crushed Florence's dream of being a writer herself, all the while unaware of the hurt he is causing his wife. There is winter at this heart of this story, but the tone is so beautifully elegiac and the prose so effortlessly understated and unpretentious that you cannot help but be moved by it. This novel is worthy of Hardy but you don’t need to be a fan of his novels to appreciate this story about love and loss.

  • Laura
    2018-12-07 21:30

    From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:Inspired by the novel 'Winter' by Christopher Nicholson and dramatised by Sara Davies.The most famous writer of his day is living in chilly seclusion in Dorset with his second wife and former secretary, Florence. Between these two frozen hearts comes the talented amateur actress Gertrude Bugler, playing Tess in the first production of Hardy's play, provoking local and national fascination.Florence determines to put a stop to what she sees as Hardy's ludicrous infatuation with the young woman. Gertie is caught in the middle, longing to play Tess on the London stage.Florence Hardy often found herself dealing with the many journalists and admirers who wanted access to her celebrated husband. Caught off-guard, Thomas has agreed to be the subject of a fly-on-the- wall documentary, but he hands the interviewer on to his wife, who reveals more than she intends about her husband's fascination with Gertrude.Vibrant performances and a sensitive, unusual treatment bring new light to a story that continues to fascinate.Dramatist...Sara DaviesMusic...Jon NichollsProduction Manager...Sarah GoodmanDirector...Mary Ward-Lowery.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-24 21:08

    I received an ARC of this title from the publisher.I always thought it was sad that the Roman Stoic philosopher Cicero, in his moral treatise De Senectute (On Old Age), argues that not only do old men not engage in the pleasures of a lover any longer, but they are actually relieved to be free from such sensations. Seneca, in one of his Stoic epistles, agrees with Cicero's sentiment by telling Lucilius that it is a relief to have tired out one's appetites and be done with such things.Christopher Nicholson, in his fictional autobiography about the last few years of Thomas Hardy's life, greatly disagrees with Cicero and Seneca's views on old age. Nicholson gives us an example, through the life of this famous author, of an old man enjoying love and fantasizing about pleasure even though such enjoyments are not necessarily attainable. The focus of the book is the winter of Hardy's eighty-fourth year when he decides to become involved in an amateur production of Tess. He has resisted turning what is his most famous novel into a staged production, but when he meets Gertrude Bulger, a local townswoman, he believes she is the only one that can do his heroine justice.Hardy lives a very quiet life in the small town of Wessex where he was born. He doesn't go out and socialize very much, so it is truly remarkable when he agrees to become involved with the local theater company to stage this production of Tess. He develops a heart-warming relationship with the lead actress, whom he affectionately refers to as "Gertie." He enjoys having her over for tea and talking to her about books, philosophy and life in general. He realizes that, even though he is in the winter of his life, he still has strong feelings of love and desire for this twenty-eight year-old woman. She inspires him to write love poems again and he produces over twenty such poems in the course of a few months.The imagery and backdrop of winter is appropriate for Hardy's reflections on what he feels could be the last few months, weeks or days of his life. The cold and ice and bleak landscape reflect what he feels is going on in the natural progression of his life. He, however, is not sad or bitter about this . And when he has the opportunity to interact with Gertie he embraces the opportunity and does not deny himself feelings of love, pleasure and desire just become of his advanced age. One of the sweetest moments of the book is when he finds one a piece of her hair and tucks it into one of the books in his library as a keepsake.The other forceful character in the book is Hardy's wife who is about forty years his junior. Although Florence is much younger than her husband she acts like she is the octogenarian in the relationship. She is obsessed with her health, paranoid, whiny and jealous. When she sees that Thomas has developed feelings for Gertie she is relentless in her nagging at him and does everything she can to make sure that they do not see each other again. I understand that Hardy could be a quiet, brooding, stubborn man and was not the easiest person to live with. But Florence's constant obsession about her health and the perceived wrongdoings against her made it difficult to have any sympathy for her.The reader should be warned that the ending is not necessary a happy one. There is, however, a larger message in the book to be found which is that Cicero and Seneca did not quite have the correct perceptions on old age. Human beings have the capacity to experience love, desire and pleasure right up until our final days. Cicero and Seneca most definitely would have judged Hardy to be a bad Stoic.

  • LindyLouMac
    2018-11-22 05:33

    Since studying Thomas Hardy's literature at school I have been a firm fan of all his novels. Tess of the D'Urbevilles has always been a favourite, so I was intrigued when presented with this title for a recent book club selection. In the 1920’s Thomas Hardy did actually adapt his apparently favourite novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles for a Dorset amateur dramatic group, so this novel is based on real events.Winter is not something I would have normally wanted to read as I do not like it when it seems like an author is taking the fame of another, real and or fictional for their own novel. It almost feels like cheating to me. Despite these doubts I did enjoy Winter, although I was not particularly keen on Nicholson's portrayal of either Thomas Hardy or his second wife Florence. He is portrayed as a somewhat reclusive and obstinate old man that is not at all pleasant to his much younger wife, though one feels she deserves it with her tendency to hysteria and nagging at times.In conclusion this complex story about the winter of Hardy's life and the emotional problems arising in his marriage due to old age, his desires, fear of mortality and his wife's jealousies does provide a provoking read.Regardless of the way the author has characterised Hardy, I still love his writing and would therefore recommend this novel to any fans of his work.https://lindyloumacbookreviews.blogsp...

  • Andrew
    2018-12-04 00:09

    Winter is a novel which tells the story of the complicated relationship between the author, Thomas Hardy, his second wife, Florence and a budding young actress called Gertrude Bugler. The story takes place in the 1920s and explores a possible version of events which have a root in the real world. It explores the shine which the elderly Thomas takes to Gertrude, who plays the lead character in an amateur theatre group's production of 'Tess'. The situation becomes difficult, because of the stress, imagined or real, which this infatuation has on Florence and her relationship with her husband. As a fan of the writings of Thomas Hardy and a visitor to his homes in Dorset, I was drawn in to this book by the descriptions of Max Gate, his home and the locality in which it sits. Once the scene is set, the early chapters are written in the voice of Florence. She explores the history of her marriage to Thomas, following the death of his first wife, Emma. This gives an insight into what day to day life at Max Gate was like. Florence gives the reader an understanding of the sense of frustration which she has living in the shadow of the famous author, as his biographer. "I think it is as if my husband was a great tree and I am stunted from living in his shadow". I enjoyed the switches between the voice of Florence to the situation as Thomas saw it. This helped to develop the story and kept me wanting to know what happened next.The story is taken up by Gertrude, and the outlook from the viewpoint of her and her husband, who supports her theatrical ambitions. Here I must stop to avoid spoiling the ending. For me, Christopher Nicholson has created a believable, readable novel which encapsulates a sense of time in the way he explores the attitudes of men towards women. I found the writing opened up a real feeling of time and space, a window into Hardy's Wessex, as he draws towards the end of his life.

  • Mary Ess
    2018-11-17 02:08

    Well written thought provoking look at relationships, the passage of time and old age.

  • Charlie
    2018-11-23 21:27

    An awfully bleak story with incredibly annoying main characters for whom I developed no sympathy through the 247 pages. The only thing that could save this book in my eyes is how well written it is. The author has great technical writing skills but the story lacks emotions if not action. It needs some sparks to make it truly memorable.

  • Vivek Tejuja
    2018-11-21 21:31

    I was in college and I remember devouring everything by Thomas Hardy. He was and is one of my favourite writers. I know that most think that he doesn’t fit in today’s scheme of things but I beg to differ. I think the topics that he raised in his novels are as relevant today as they were then. Feminism though is at its core, if you read his works closely enough. But I digress, or maybe not, given this review is about a book titled “Winter” where one of the protagonists is Mr. Hardy himself. “Winter” is in turns a charming, a terrifying (some of it) and most graceful read. It is set in the last years of Mr. Hardy. He is in his eighties and lives in Dorset with his second wife Florence. Enter Gertrude, the lovely eighteen-year old actress who has been cast to play Tess in a local performance. Hardy cannot help but fall for her. She is young, nubile and everything that he cannot see in Florence. Thus begins one of the best marital dramas I’ve read in recent times. Marital dramas are not written about all that much and when one does attempt to try his or her hand at it, it has to be perfect and almost precise, which is what “Winter” manages to achieve. There are three shifting views and narratives to this novel – of course, of the three protagonists. Hardy’s view though is always third person. Gertrude and Florence have first person narratives. It is as though Hardy’s voice is just reduced to those in his books – background and full of insight. There is love between Florence and Thomas – but it cannot be expressed. Most love is inexpressible or reaches that stage as the novel progresses. Gertrude is married to her cousin who is a butcher and Hardy cannot help but feel sorry for her and at the same time envious of her husband. Florence wants to make her husband happy but is unable to do so. At the end of the book, I could not really take sides but I did feel sorrier for Florence. My empathy was tilted in her direction. The tone, atmosphere and feelings of characters are most precisely etched by Nicholson and those add to the layers of the novel or merge and become one with it. “Winter” is a story that is of the past – of love, secrets, lies, stories we tell ourselves in order to live and Christopher Nicholson does a super job of communicating its raw and almost unseen parts.

  • Laura
    2018-11-25 00:23

    I am sure David Lodge has read this novel: after all, it follows the same pattern as his fictionalizations of Henry James and HG Wells. I am fond of literary novels about writers and Winter was likely to be special for me, given that I am a Hardy buff. Quite a lot of the content is bound to be familiar due to his novels and biographies (Tomalin's, and The Well-Beloved are particularly relevant works), but I found Nicholson's efforts well-attuned to my own mental image of the writer and his environment.There is something irresistible about a man who in his eighties is still capable of developing a fancy for a young woman, and dwells and acts on it as he does. He becomes infatuated with a local actress who takes the part of Tess in an amateurish theatrical production, Gertrude, and this still has consequences on his marital life, as if he were a much younger man and he stood any chances, as he would have put it... Half the fun of being in love for Hardy must have been "thinking" about being love, and here he brings up again his theories about this, particularly how love migrates from one partner to the other, as in The Well Beloved, where the same man falls in love with different generations of women from the same family. On this occasion, Hardy goes for the mum, a milkmaid he observes while on a country walk, and then for the daughter, both of whom he then relates to Tess, his fictional creation...Nicholson's is a strong recreation of Hardy's environment and I particularly enjoyed this: the gloomy damp house, his study, his dog, the looming trees that his second wife, Florence, feels threatened by... I always sided with the first wife, so I felt irritated by Florence, her grievances and her hypocrisy, but of course living with Hardy must have been difficult: he comes across as a man who liked being in control of his affairs, such as money and even other mundane domestic matters. In contrast, Gertrude feels sweet, even if completely unaware of the impact she has had on the old man.Was the Hardy in Winter like the Hardy you pictured in your mind while reading the novels?

  • Brooke
    2018-12-07 01:15

    Started really well with some beautiful prose and then I just couldn't find any sympathy for any of the characters. Barely managed to finish.

  • Tracey Rupp rawlins
    2018-11-12 01:31

    Excellent loved this story from 3 perspectives, highly recommended!

  • Andrew
    2018-11-18 04:30

    An interesting snapshot of the life of Thomas Hardy in his last years. It is set against the staging of a version of Tess in Dorset and ultimately in London. Hardy is not a particularly sympathetic character who becomes besotted with the local woman who plays Tess in the amateur production, Gertrude Bugler. Hardy is struggling with his obsession with a woman who has no physical interest in him, he is unable to come to terms with the impact of his aging. He is also lacking any emotional intelligence in relation to his relationship to his second wife Florence a younger woman who has sacrificed her youth for him and has the shadow of Hardy's idealised relationship with his first wife hanging over her.. We see her consumed by jealousy of the actress as she finds Hardy's poems about the woman , and frustration that he shows her no affection even forgetting her birthday, Hardy simply being entirely self obsessed. I enjoyed the book even though the characters are unappealing which is odd as in my own youth I loved Hardy's novels 'Far from the madding crowd' remaining in my top ten books. The structure and prose are very good, with the writer portraying Hardy, Florence and Gertrude as this bizarre triangle brilliantly with subtle touches of character brought out such as Hardy finding a hair from Gertrude and placing it in a book of poems. Overall then it gives an fascinating picture of an interesting character which makes me want to find out more about a flawed man whose prose I have loved.

  • Susan Grodsky
    2018-11-22 00:06

    I took a long time to read this book because I had to stop at a certain point, read another book so I would be prepared for my book club meeting, then come back to this one.The book is not for everyone. It's beautifully written but there's not much in the way of action. There is, instead, a shifting narrator that gives each of the three characters a chance to gain your sympathy by presenting their varying points of view. Some chapters are narrated by the 84 year old Thomas Hardy, others by his wife, Florence, and still others by Gertrude Bugler, the 27 year old amateur actress who plays Tess in a Dorchester production of Hardy's best known work.Hardy is enamored of Gertrude, who supplies some much needed inspiration for his diminishing poetic powers. Gertrude is honored to receive attention from the famed author and poet. And Mrs. Hardy is furiously jealous of this youthful interloper. That's all the story there is. No murders, no divorces, hardly a raised voice. The joy is in the mood created and in the beautifully composed language.

  • Becky Loader
    2018-12-04 21:13

    Thomas Hardy is in the winter of his years, and I don't think I like him very much.It is a brave author to take a major author such as Hardy and to tell his story.Hardy is at home with his second wife, Florence, and he is still writing at 84. Florence, his former secretary, is much younger and has become quite irritable about nearly everything, including cutting back the trees. Hardy is stuck on writing a book, so he has turned to poems.Then Gertrude Bugler enters the picture in a locally-produced amateur production of a Hardy play. Life at the cottage (including the great aging terrier, Wessie) will never be the same. Gertie as Tess has set off an incredible chain reaction that is going to steamroll through life at the cottage.Nicholson writes with insight into his characters and sets a wonderful scene. Hardy is portrayed with lots of warts and imperfections, and he has definitely not been an easy person to have around the house! Good read.

  • Tuck
    2018-12-03 21:12

    Nice atmospheric novel of Thomas hardy at home in his old old age and his collaboration, synergy, and dalliance? With the very young actor who plays the woman lead in the new hardy play . Fun, if dark and sad read.

  • Nicole~
    2018-12-02 21:25


  • Cathy
    2018-11-20 00:25

    Thomas Hardy as an old man. Fiction. Quiet but lovely writing.

  • Katherine
    2018-12-03 05:31

    *I quite enjoyed this book, though I'm sure part of my enjoyment has to do with my fondness for Thomas Hardy. *Some quotations I appreciated:“ was the kind of hair that in a former age might have adorned the head of a Cleopatra or a Helen of Troy, and a man with an imaginative cast of mind might have wished himself transmuted into a comb, merely for the pleasure of being drawn through its length” (9).“The old man was vaguely conscious of a desire to be in Wessex’s position, licking her fingers” (12).“Although he had a strong dislike of photographers, there was nothing for it. He bared his teeth, much like the fox round Florence’s neck” (57).“Where does the past exist except in one’s mind? That is such a frightening thought but is it not so? (And where the present--but that is even more frightening.)” (69).“...he answered that he had often imagined it, a world free of the curse of humanity” (71).“...and in an attempt to discourage the birds, three scarecrows, composed of sacking, rags, sticks and the remnants of old clothes, and tied together with string, now stood among the vegetables like some modern version of the Crucifixion” (129).“Whether Cockerell noticed the scarecrows was not apparent. He was one of those men for whom a walk is a conversation on legs…” (129).“Truth does not have the tightly ordered quality of art” (130).“‘The world does not seem designed for the well-being of the human race. Or designed at all, unfortunately. If there were a designer, he would appear to have been entirely indifferent to the happiness of humankind’” (131).“...while a widening scarf of smoke stretched from a farmhouse chimney” (132).“Other views intruded; it was no longer possible to live in blinkers. He knew too much” (132).“The bump on her neck--what an Icelandic saga that had been!” (172).“...amid their clamour he could hear the thin, wavering line of a robin’s song. Such songs, he thought, such songs, issuing from such tiny, fragile scraps of matter” (188).“Nature, in the form of rain, wind, frost and ice, soon attacked those upraised letters and chiselled edges, as if mocking their pretensions to immortality” (193).“The church door was flung open, and the coffin with its six pairs of dark legs and shining black shoes appeared like some giant beetle” (195).

  • Stephanie
    2018-11-27 22:22

    What a gorgeous, gorgeous novel based on events of the famous but now elderly writer Thomas Hardy who is now 84. He is a kind man but largely drawn into his interior world, leaving his wife (who is 40 years younger) emotionally alone in their house hidden behind hundreds of huge trees which he will not cut. Into this comes a local young woman who is cast as Tess in a local amateur play based on this famous novel. But he becomes infatuated by the young woman, knowing nothing can be between them but friendship but sort of melding with her soul. The wife is now more emotionally alone than ever...incredible world of nature and deep feeling and an old famous writer in his last years.I give it five stars because it is a little masterpiece but wish it had been 15% shorter. Still, it is beautiful...and very quiet.

  • Tensy Gesteira estevez
    2018-11-15 04:35

    El libro está muy bien hilado, pues combina el narrador omnisciente con otros capítulos en primera persona donde habla la esposa de Hardy. En estos últimos, Florence se explaya largo y tendido sobre sus sentimientos, y nos cuenta cómo lo dejó todo por él, además de entablar una conversación con nosotros alrededor de la desigualdad entre hombres y mujeres, motivo por el que podríamos considerar este libro en algunas partes como un alegato feminista y una reclamación de la “habitación propia” que más tarde definiría Virginia Woolf.Reseña completa aquí:

  • Sharon S.
    2018-12-03 05:30

    Time slows to a crawl in "Winter," as we share the season with Thomas Hardy and his second wife Florence. Cold permeates the story. Florence is battling illness, anxiety and loneliness after 11 years off marriage to a man who is remote and dedicated to his craft... Not so much his marriage or his wife's happiness. Fascinating and melancholy rumination on life, attraction, a writer's life, memory and love. Filled with many fine descriptions of the natural world and rumination on life and death. Well written. Fascinating. This isn't light fiction, but it's a good read.