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The Winter House Paperback – 3 Dec 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141024070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141024073
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Beautifully read" The Oldie --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Nicci Gerrard writes for the Observer and is the co-author, with Sean French, of the bestselling Nicci French thrillers. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and four children. Her novels Things We Knew Were True, Solace and The Moment You Were Gone are all published by Penguin and received rave reviews.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Barnes on 25 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
The Winter House is the beguiling story of a woman summoned to confront the trappings of her youthful past, a complex quadrangle of tangled relations, which have long been buried but never forgotten. With a wisdom beyond its pages it is a novel that makes you explore you own half-forgotten friendships and relationships; whether consciously of subconsciously you cannot help but relate to Marnie's circumstances by placing a question mark against people, choices and events from your own past.

When Marnie receives a phone call out of the blue from old friend Oliver Fenton, he his summoning her to a small cottage in remote Scotland where their friend Ralph is dying. There was a time when these three, and Lucy (a fourth) were all very close and inseparable friends. But that all came to an abrupt end years ago and Marnie hasn't been in touch with the boys since. Can they all put past events behind them and transport themselves back to their youth, to give Ralph the peace, the strength and love he needs at the end? Much has happened in their lives since their youth, but will the bonds of friendship still be strong enough to see through their differences now?

It is a very warm and poignant novel, more about relationships and emotions than about events. The main characters are real, immediate, - very well portrayed. In just a couple of places I think the writing loses it's thread, with the theme of 'home' and 'homesickness' being ever so slightly over-played as well, but on the whole it's a novel I can recommend for its originality, kind heart, warmth and good story telling, and only the hardest of hearts will fail to be moved by this story of loss, love and friendship.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Winter House by Nicci Gerrard

This latest book by one half of the Nicci French partnership is surely most suitable reading for a cold winter's day. The cover alone promises much - I felt drawn to the little house in the deep blue picture and enjoyed feeling that I would relate to the story.

In many ways the theme of The Winter House is the long lasting effects of childhood relationships; those which exert the strongest of pull on our adult selves. There is something completely solid and grounded about these building blocks of our lives. Nicci Gerrard certainly understands the importance of those intuitive and sometimes inexplicable aversions, attractions and loyalties.

In the conversation at the back of the book the author explains that there were times when writing The Winter House that she felt suddenly stranded. And that.: "Indeed halfway through I stopped for several months". Alas this is clear in parts of her writing and the reader may experience the same emotion. For this reason the book is not entirely satisfactory. NG asks a lot of her reader and sometimes I felt bogged down with it all and wondered whether it would be worth finishing.

Only three characters really speak, Ralph who lies dying in his lonely northern home, attended by his old friend Oliver who calls in Marnie to help them over this lingering leave taking. However Emma, Marnie's mother is in the background and it was her that I felt was the most interesting and rewarding. She came across as wise and accepting of fate, unselfish and an extraordinary parent.

There are wonderful descriptive passages of the days of snow and isolation. Huge chunks of the book are set in the past and you move from then to the present day.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Firstly, this is very different from the psychological thrillers written under the Nicci French name. Marnie is 40 when she receives a phone call from Oliver to say that their mutual friend, the mercurial Ralph, is dying. Having not seen each other for twenty years, her journey to Scotland is also a journey into their shared past and the ties that both bind them and separate them.

This is an emotionally-intense book that manages to deal with big and difficult subjects - adolescence, love, death - without ever descending into the sentimental or maudlin. The characters are well-drawn and avoid many of the usual clichés: they're not all glamorous or beautiful, in fact they're rather geeky and all the more interesting for it. Also rather than concentrating on the university years, this introduces the main characters as children and follows an unobvious path.

At its heart, this is a story about love: not just romantic, passionate love but also the love between a mother and daughter, and between friends both male and female. This isn't a plot-driven book, instead it's an intimate, detailed, sometimes painful, always tender evocation of inner lives. The deserted cottage in wintry Scotland becomes almost a character in the book and is a fine setting for the unearthing of the human heart.

Beautifully written, moving and controlled - highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mel Q on 27 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Just finished this book and can't get it out of my head. Beautifully and sensitively written, didn't want to put it down. Recommend it highly. A truly touching book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 11 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful story of teenage friendship and the pain of unrequited love. When well written, as this book is, it's my favourite sort of read.

The central character, Marnie, is an awkward teenager, dyslexic, untidy, and largely spurned by her classmates. The story of her younger life unfolds twenty years on, as she waits at the bedside of her friend Ralph who is dying of cancer. Summoned by Ralph's friend Oliver, Marnie reminisces about their teenage years, telling their story to Ralph during those cold dark winter days when he slowly fades into oblivion. It is through these reminiscences that the circumstances of their previous acquaintance and the parts Ralph and Oliver played in Marnie's past are revealed.

It's an emotional read, full of beautiful descriptions. You can almost hear the sound of the sea sucking at the pebbles on the beach near Marnie's childhood home, and you shiver as you step from Ralph's cottage into the biting cold of a winter's night. Sometimes it feels as if the snowy forest is more Scandinavia than northern Scotland so it's interesting to note (from the conversation with the author at the end of the book) that she originally thought to set the story in Sweden.

Towards the end of the book tears were rolling down my cheeks, but the distressing present-day story is short-lived between the absorbing back-story with strongly drawn characters that seem so real it's as if you know them. It is Marnie whose thoughts we share and who is therefore the most real, but her mother, Emma, although never revealing her innermost thoughts and fears, is nevertheless someone you feel you know and can rely on.

Don't be put off by the depressing theme. If you appreciate beautifully written English and like stories about friendships and relationships you'll love this.
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