Embrace the positives of cold weather and shorter days by curling up on the sofa with a good book. Discover our current favourites below.
Midwinter Break, Bernard MacLaverty
Though sixteen years has passed since his last full length offering, Midwinter Break is in step with MacLaverty’s previous books, exploring themes of faith, alcoholism and religious prejudice in Ireland. A retired couple fly from their home in Scotland for a weekend in Amsterdam. Married for forty years, the holiday initially seems a chance to unwind and take stock after the milestones of children and careers have passed. What unfolds however is a poignant exploration of the deep-rooted uncertainties in their relationship. Compassionate and elegantly realised, MacLaverty’s latest book is an effort in sadness and the complexities of human emotion.
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Hag-Seed is the result of an initiative by Hogarth publishing company to produce a series of novels based on Shakespeare’s works, with Atwood’s contribution a modern reinterpretation of The Tempest. Her Prospero is the character of Felix, his Kingdom of Milan translated in this version into a Canadian Theatre Festival. Wronged by a rival, artistic director Felix is unceremoniously cast aside from the theatre company he loves before he has the chance to stage The Tempest; a masterpiece he is convinced will be the pinnacle of his career as well as catharsis over the loss of his daughter. Twelve years on and Felix prepares to stage the same play, only this time his cast are inmates at a correctional facility he teaches at. What ensues is a play within a play, written with Atwood’s trademark humour. Hag-Seed is by no means exclusive to Shakespeare enthusiasts, though for those who have read or studied the original Tempest it’s a must-read.
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, Philip Pullman
Set in the years preceding the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One was released 22 years after The Northern Lights was first published. The novel still features the first trilogy’s hero, Lyra Belaqua, however here we are introduced to her as an infant being delivered to Jordan College. New character Malcolm plots to return the baby to her glamorous father Lord Asriel. Though an exploration in nostalgia for fans of the original series, La Belle Sauvage is an engrossing imagining in its own right. Not only an impressive stand-alone book, it also offers the promise of continued magnitude in the volumes to follow.