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What to Look for in Winter [Paperback]

Candia McWilliam
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Review

"One of the most extraordinary literary autobiographies of this or any other year" (The Times)

"An essential book in all of its aspects, a thing of beauty and of unbearable hurt, of dreadful harm and intense humanity...This is the work of a capacious, open, vulnerable and unfailingly generous soul" (Scotsman)

"A searingly honest, beautiful book" (Kate Mosse Daily Telegraph)

"One of the most devastatingly moving memoirs I've ever read...a work of beauty and truth " (Independent)

"Miraculous" (Hilary Spurling Guardian)

Book Description

A beautifully written, moving and extraordinary work of autobiography from one of the leading figures of the British literary world.

From the Inside Flap

Candia McWilliam had just joined the judging panel of the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2006 when she started to lose her sight. The gradual onset of blindness seemed like an assault especially tailored for someone whose life consisted of reading and writing. The necessity to look inwards that followed took her on an even more painful personal journey through a waste of snows punctuated by shards of ice as she attempted to write her life back into human shape.

At first she could only dictate, and the unfamiliar process unblocked a flow of memory and association concerning her childhood in Edinburgh, her mother's suicide, her teenage escape into another identity, finding and losing bearings in Cambridge and London, her marriages, her children and, stalking all these, her increasing alcoholism.

In What To Look For In Winter, we see her rifling through her many selves for that elusive thing, a sense of self, as all the time she searches the wilder shores of medicine for a cure for her blindness.

This is a writer's book, fascinated by the process and wellsprings of writing. While love and loss are at its centre, it also celebrates friendship, reading, love of children and the consolations of landscape, particularly that of Colonsay, the Hebridean island where, after three years in the dark, and thanks to an unexpected message from a wise and sympathetic reader, she begins to face up to how, falteringly, she might come to see once more.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

'An essential book...a thing of beauty and of unbearable hurt, of dreadful harm and intense humanity' Scotsman

'Miraculous'

Hilary Spurling, Guardian

'A searingly honest, beautiful book'

Kate Mosse, Daily Telegraph

Candia McWilliam had just joined the judging panel of the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2006 when she started to lose her sight. The gradual onset of blindness seemed especially cruel to someone whose life depended on reading and writing. As McWilliam's sight disappeared she looked inwards and began to remember her Edinburgh childhood, her mother's suicide, her teenage escape into another identity, her marriages, her children and, stalking all these memories, her increasing alcoholism. What To Look For In Winter is a magical, uplifting and truly wise book about families and friendship, love and loss and that most elusive of things - a sense of self.

'A triumph'

Evening Standard

'One of the most extraordinary literary autobiographies of this or any other year'

The Times

'Startling, discomforting, complicated, hilarious and heart-rending'Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Candia McWilliam was born in Edinburgh. She is the author of A Case of Knives (1988) which won a Betty Trask Prize, A Little Stranger (1989), Debatable Land (1994) which was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and a collection of stories, Wait Till I Tell You (1997). In 2006 she began to suffer from the effects of blepharospasm and became functionally blind as a result. In 2009 she underwent an operation which harvested tendons from her leg in order to enable her to open her eyelids.
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