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December by Elizabeth H Winthrop
  

December

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Reviewed on Richard & Judy's Book Club 2009 on Wednesday 18 March.

A family struggling to cope with the self-imposed silence the eleven year old daughter has been keeping up for the last nine months. This has a fairly gentle pace and perhaps not too much “action” but it explores family relationships and emotions and how people communicate (or don’t). A thoughtful story.

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Synopsis

December by Elizabeth H Winthrop

Eleven-year-old Isabelle hasn’t spoken in nine months, and as December begins the situation is getting desperate. Her mother has stopped work to devote herself full-time to her daughter’s care. Four psychiatrists have already given up on her, and her school, which until now has allowed her to study from home, will not take her back in the New Year. Her parents are frantically trying to understand what has happened to their child so they can help her, but they cannot escape the thought of darker possibilities. What if Isabelle is damaged beyond their reach? Will she never speak again? Is it their fault?

As her parents spiral around Isabelle’s impenetrable silence, she herself emerges, in a fascinating portrait of an exceptional child, as a bright young girl in need of help yet too terrified to ask for it.

By the talented young author of FIREWORKS, this is a novel of spellbinding emotional power about a family in crisis, showing the delicate web of threads that connect a husband and wife, parents and children, and how easily it can tear.

Reviews

‘Winthrop is brilliant at depicting the bewildering world and its assault on the senses of a struggling adolescent . . . This extraordinary novel seduces as it also challenges: curiously provoking and offering small flashes of illumination, like matches struck in that dim and meaningful space on the far side of language.’ - Natalie Sandison, The Times

‘Like budding artist Isabelle, Winthrop is a master of observation, and her ability to crystallize themes in particular vignettes (fixing a broken phonograph, buying Christmas presents) brings this affecting family drama vividly to life.’ - Publisher’s Weekly

About the Author

Elizabeth H Winthrop

Elizabeth H. Winthrop was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Harvard University in 2001 with a BA in English and American Literature and Language, and in 2004 she received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of California. Her stories have appeared in a variety of publications including the Missouri Review and the Indiana Review. FIREWORKS, her first novel, was published by Sceptre in 2006, and her second, DECEMBER, came out in 2008. She lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband, who is a painter, and her St. Bernard.

Author Photo © Julia Bishop

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Book Info

Publication date

26th December 2008

Author

Elizabeth H Winthrop

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Publisher

Hodder & Stoughton General Division

Format

Paperback
384 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780340961438

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