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What to Look for in Winter Paperback – 4 Aug 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099539535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099539537
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 rid of the name-dropping, let it all be there, alongside the brilliance, not just of the language but the terrifying knowingness of Candia's mind. I'd say: read to the end. The second half of the book overcomes the first half where the name-dropping is at its worst. Someone else wrote in their review that the book lives on with you. I found this too. I think Candia's consciousness is utterly worth sticking by, whatever the blemishes. At the risk of sounding pretentious (!) it's like a cave full of treasures and the occasional bit of crap; crap which is just part of life. We all do it, after all. The combination is what I liked about it. I do think she is brilliant, almost whatever she does and is. And with so much plot-driven writing about, it's refreshing to be in the company of brilliance. She carried me through Christmas and that's saying something.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed Candia McWilliam's writing. Her sentences are so wonderful I used to just sit inside them for a bit before reading on. Her heartstopping memoir holds you in thrall long after you've read the last page. The narrative of her life is told here in fragmented, discursive episodes, interspersed with reflections on writing, on memory and loss, remorse and regret, and exquisite descriptions, as subtle and exact as poetry, of the landscape of Colonsay, an island she loves. It is in many ways a heartbreaking book. The author is beautiful and gifted, but has suffered the agonies of alcoholism and blindness and the loss of those she loved. But this is not a misery memoir. She is brave, generous, compassionate and loving. She is also wry and very funny. Her public voice has been stilled for too long. It returns here as vigorous, insightful, precise and beautiful as ever. Welcome back.
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Format: Hardcover
I haven't read any other Candia McWilliam books but was drawn to this because of the reviews. I've almost finished it and noticing that I'm reading very slowly now because I don't want it to end. It's also one of the few books I've ever resolved to re-read immediately. I've found it a truly extraordinary read. Her exquisite use of language and unbelievably original phrasing, the way she describes the indescribable...every page is gobsmacking. (If I was clever, I'd think of a word you had to look up here!). Other critics here have found 'name-dropping' a problem, but she can't help the circles she's grown up in and she clearly doesn't intend to 'name-drop', so don't let that put you off. In fact, in many ways she comes across as someone who has curiously low self-esteem, someone who struggles in her life on so many levels, so I can't help but warm to her. And as much as her language is complex and sometimes hard to read (but in a good way!), you can turn the page and find a really ordinary bit of prose and way of saying something that sits quite oddly with the rest and endears you to her, because she plainly isn't just some posh or privileged one-dimensional person who has it all sewn up, but someone who can describe base suffering in a way to make you weep. The running thread of her life as an unwilling, yet willing, spectre in her ex-husband's new relationship, is totally heartbreaking. If I could wish her a gift, I'd wish her a pair of wings to escape. How can she bear to stand on the sidelines and see his love for someone else, when she appears to still love him and regret breaking up from him? But then her eyes cannot see what her heart is grieving over. Awesome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 pretentious load of old claptrap I've ever struggled to read. The constant name-dropping!"Oh, Dame Naomi Mitchison was once almost slightly rude to me", "Oh here I am going blind in a rich friend's flat in Chelsea...woe is me". It's unbearable. I can't believe I'm the only person who feels this way. This is the only book in 2010 that I simply can't finish. It's in my desk drawer at work and that's where it's staying. I wouldn't inflict it on anyone else. Simply ghastly! Someone please tell me it was worth ploughing through and why! I will say though, that she has the most fantastic way with words and this well-disguised lump of self pity is beautifully written but that's not enough to keep my interest.
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Format: Hardcover
Quite simply the most extraordinary book I have read all year. Very rare to find someone who writes so well with such a staggering story to recount. I reviewed this book for the Sunday Times, but since they have gone behind the pay wall I wanted to reiterate my admiration here.
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