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38 Reviews
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4 star:
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3 star:
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In response to jane napier's review: so disappointing
I can understand why Jane Napier so intensely disliked the name-dropping. I also hated it at the beginning. I was as irritated as I think she was. BUT I actually loved the book in spite of it. I found it riveting to observe a battle between the pretention and the brilliance. When people say it was raw, this was the rawness for me; the fact that nobody told her to get...
Published on 16 Jan 2011 by Anthea Church

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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed
I am a big fan of Candia McWilliam and I have to say, I DID wonder where she had gone and what had happened to her so I was excited to see she had this book out, supposedly explaining everything. I have to admit, I just can't finish it. I know I'm a lone voice because everyone else loves it - it's "brave and fearless" etc and I'll give you that but it's also the most...
Published on 28 Dec 2010 by Jane Napier


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service, 3 July 2013
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Product good. Delivery good. The book itself is wonderful and one I will read over and over again Thank you
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, irritating yet so readable., 8 Mar 2011
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Although I knew of the author this is the first book by her I have read following the extensive publicity given to it when it appeared last year. Clearly a writer who loves words and beautifully written but I cannot help but agree with a previous reviewer that it is incredibly pretentious, name droppy and downright irritating. Everyone is introduced with an aside as to their erudition, fame etc - ' who was loved by Raymond Chandler', 'who was the British Ambassador to...' What a gilded world these people inhabit. If you can get past this however it is a consuming book that never descends into self pity and becomes particularly interesting in talking of her alcoholism. Unusual in having no photographs of any kind,even the author.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars is it me ....? ( and the one star rating I'm forced to give is too GOOD! ), 16 Mar 2011
By 
S. Garfield (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was looking forward to this work, having read the rave reviews. I didn't get past the first few pages.... read the following quotes - and I promise these are faithfully reproduced as they appear in the first couple of chapters ( grammar, sentence construction and punctuation entirely the author's own.... )

1. In the rehabilitation centre, which was set in a house about whose architecture and inhabitants, The Souls, I had once, long ago, written a review, several of the counsellors, themselves mostly `in recovery', asked me if I would write about the experience.

2. So, perhaps this exercise that intimidates me, on account of its going so deeply against my grain, may touch your synapses with my own as I give some account of what it has been to have lived, to have felt and to have
thought within my head before and since it closed down its main route to, and means of, interpreting the world, my eyes.

3. There were painful family events occurring, than which any passing funny business with my eyes was far less harrowing.

4. Guilty on all counts, I packed my longish frame and a 900 page novel into the vestibule, as the greased-up hinge between carriages of a passenger train is fabulously designated, of a southbound train, and settle to some hour's standing room only.

5. I returned to the North, relieved to be leaving the Quaker club where I had been staying in a bed off whose end I hung.

Nuff said .... AVOID!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid!, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: What to Look for in Winter (Paperback)
Candia McWilliam has not learnt that economy of words can have greater impact than prolixity. The torrent of words in this book is undisciplined, self-indulgent, and terribly uninteresting. It's hard to be so critical, given that the central theme is her experience of blindness, but the writing has to be judged as writing, and in my view the writing is very poor. Not recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belles-lettres., 22 April 2012
By 
P. Kinsella (Nottingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What to Look for in Winter (Paperback)
Beautifully written, with a phenomenal command of the English language. It is a joy to experience these recollections of her early life in Edinburgh, her relationships, and her observations of the literary world. Her descriptions of her mother's death, her alcoholism and her blindness are very moving, and one is desperate for her to regain her happiness.

She has an ability to absolutely describe details of her life in psychological and pictorial depth.

One of the best books I have read in recent years.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, 20 Mar 2011
You cannot describe a book like this. You have to read it. It is astonishingly honest, beautifully written and a soul felt story you have never read before.
It's about bravery at it's very limit, but about love above all.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What to look for in Winter by Candia McWilliam, 26 Mar 2012
This review is from: What to Look for in Winter (Paperback)
I very much agree with Jane Napier's review of this book. Unlike her I did finish it by scanning the last 100 pages, just in case I would miss an important event or change. I was so relieved when I finally closed it. It was self-deprecating, self-pitying and at the same time superior. Of course I feel sorry that the author has this awful condition but reading this book was like spending too much time with someone I did not like. She comes over as being needy, dependent and masochistic (the latter she denies on p. 418). No inner resources, no real kindness, just words and famous names. A big, sad, blind cuckoo.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars blindness In Scotland and other parts ., 9 Jan 2011
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I loved this book . It was incredibly well written , dense, I will have to re read it , and thought- provoking, Im not sure if
i like the Narrator , us humans can only take so much reality, truth.!! Painful reading , beautiful reading, long suffering husband , friends, children, and now readers!! because she's clever ,honest, and can write like a , i don't know what, she would!! Thank you Candia Mc William
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally absorbing, 14 Sep 2010
By 
F. Griffiths - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I was lost in this book for several hours. The honesty is moving without being sentimental. Very real reflections on relationships. The best book I have read for a very long time.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Sparkling doses of light.', 29 Aug 2012
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`Sparkling doses of light.'
Strings of pearls in Candia McWilliams What to look for in Winter.
The story of the passport and Potts.
The curtsey to the Dame when Mc Williams was heavily laid ill with influenza in the infirmary.
The health visitor who suggests that McWilliams, winner of a competition at Vogue magazine while still at Sherborne; a person rightly a despoiler of lazy word lists who is a Cognoscenti and knows the difference between a decorative line and a drawing one; learnt it from the bottom of ladders; this person, Cambridge graduate, intellectual heavy weight, writer of crystal prose should after the birth of her second child perhaps take some `A' levels to give her another interest in life.
The incident is recounted in two soaring lines.
Mc Williams' prose is unbeatable I cannot do better than quote snippets .
`Sowing hems with smoke..'
`Red tulips with reflexed petals and thin stems like veins..'
I don't have these sleeps these days because I get stuck in my writing but because I get stuck at that point, around two o'clock, in my day.
`Three chimneys measured themselves along those wide trees and the long line of the roof offered its shadows along the lawn and the lower reaches of the trees whose individual leaves were still holding sparkling doses of light.'
She is the real mcCoy a writer who can write, easily up there with Simon Gray, ( a passing example), her company a delight.
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What to Look for in Winter
What to Look for in Winter by Candia McWilliam (Paperback - 4 Aug 2011)
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