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Winter by Christopher Nicholson

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

An exquisite retelling of Thomas Hardy’s latter life with his patient and loving second wife Florence. Into their sphere comes Gertrude Bugler, the beautiful woman who is to play Tess in Dorchester and who dearly wants to repeat the role in London. The way these three interact is beautifully portrayed against the vivid descriptions of the Dorset countryside. It is the 1920s and a bitterly cold winter adds to the drama of the piece. A truly lovely book.

If you like Christopher Nicholson you might also like to read books by Esther Freud, Nancy Horan and Paula McLain.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Winter by Christopher Nicholson

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.


'A superfine, thistledown novel ... written in a prose of such quality that one does not notice the quality - to describe it as craftsmanlike doesn't do it justice. It is a prose beyond accomplishment, yet which refuses to astonish, and which is utterly appropriate.'
- Ian Sansom, Guardian

'Nicholson's opening is pitch perfect ... And the novel ends with a beautifully handled conceit ... It is brave to set yourself up for comparison with an author as great as Hardy but this poetic and unashamedly literary book is good enough not to be embarrassed by the company it seeks to keep.'
- The Times

'Elegant ... While Nicholson's plot adds almost nothing to the historical facts, he lends the story depth by telling it from three different points of view ... A memorable portrait of a failed marriage.'
-Novel of the Week, Mail on Sunday

'A gently elegiac tone permeates the novel, with its ravishing, appropriately Hardyesque sense of the intimate connection between landscape and emotion ... The conclusion is a touching celebration of life over art'

'Devotees of Thomas Hardy should find much to treasure in Nicholson's third novel ... Nicholson emulates Hardy's elegant style with remarkable acuity ... A wonderfully insightful - and occasionally humorous - portrait of marital unhappiness and the dynamics of desire and longing'
- Sunday Times

'A wonderful novel, moving, gripping and illuminating.'
- David Lodge

-Sunday Times Must Reads

'A passionate portrayal of love in its many guises'
- Country Life Magazine

About the Author

Christopher Nicholson was brought up in north Surrey, some thirty miles south of London. At Cambridge University he studied under the late modernist poet Jeremy Prynne. Soon after Cambridge he spent three years as a community development worker in rural Cornwall. In 1981 he moved to London and got a job as a scriptwriter with the BBC World Service; he stayed with the BBC until the mid 1990s, off and on, making and presenting feature programmes and documentaries. Some won awards. In this period he twice resigned from the BBC staff to find more time for writing. During the late 1990s and early 2000s he did a good deal of freelance work for the BBC's Chinese Service. He has written full-time since then, and now lives on the northern edges of Dorset.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th January 2015


Christopher Nicholson

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


256 pages


Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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