Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

 GIVEAWAY ENDED
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER
BY CANDIA MCWILLIAM

ABOUT THE BOOK:
In 2006 the acclaimed novelist Candia McWilliam began losing her sight, a gradual onset of blindness that seemed like an assault cruelly tailored for someone whose life consisted of reading and writing. Propelled to look inward and into the past, McWilliam embarked on a painful personal voyage through a waste of snows punctuated by shards of ice as she attempted to write her life back. What followed was a flow of memory: her childhood in Edinburgh, her devastating alcoholism, finding and losing her bearings in Cambridge and London, her marriages, her children, and, overshadowing it all, her mother's suicide.

A personal story of love and loss, addiction and reclamation, her piercing memoir is also a celebration of friendship, reading, children, and the consolations of landscape. In What to Look for in Winter, McWilliam riffles through her many incarnations to find her true self and discover how she may come to see once more.

The British literary sensation—“the most startling, discomforting, complicated, ungovernable, hilarious and heart-rending of memoirs ” (The Telegraph)—the story of a celebrated writer’s sudden descent into blindness, and of the redemptive journey into the past that her loss of sight sets in motion. Candia McWilliam, whose novels A Case of Knives, A Little Stranger, and Debatable Land made her a reader favorite throughout the United Kingdom and around the world, here breaks her decade-long silence with a searing, intimate memoir that fans of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood, Mary Karr’s Lit, and Diana Athill’s Somewhere Toward the End will agree “cements her status as one of our most important literary writers beyond question” (Financial Times).

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 the Premio Grinzane Cavour in its Italian translation for the best foreign novel of the year; 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 to partially reverse the condition. What to Look for in Winter won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for literature, the Spear's Book Award for memoir, the Hawthornden Prize, and was shortlisted for the Mind Book of the Year Award and the Duff Cooper Prize. 

MY REVIEW/THOUGHTS:
CANDIA MCWILLIAM is a Scottish novelist who wrote several novels from 1980-1990. After that, there wasn’t much from her but in reading her memoir, WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER, one can easily now see why. McWilliam dictated this memoir to an assistant because she developed a very different kind of blindness called blepharospasm. This is a disease where the eyes can still see for the most part but the person is unable to open their eyelids. It is hard to think of losing one’s sight in any form but this disease seems even crueler in many ways, especially because she is a writer.

In WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER, McWilliam tells about her life in a very realistic and truthful way which personally for me, made for a very difficult memoir to read. It was not only sad but also depressing to read about losing her sight especially because she is an author. Loving books as much as I do made this memoir really hit home. However, l continued to read it driven by McWilliam's words. She writes honestly about all this sadness with a great deal of insight and surprisingly with beauty. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER describes the pain and depression of her life: alcoholism, a family history of suicide, low self-esteem and self-hatred. Again I wonder why I didn’t just close the book but McWilliam’s writing for some reason grabs you and doesn't let go. Surprisingly, she is sarcastic but forgiving and because of that, she is able to make this heartbreaking situation ironically come to life, sometimes even with humor. 


With three children, all with different fathers, Candia McWilliam writes about the first half of her life almost like a “normal” account of one’s life. In the second half of the book, it becomes tougher to read as there is so much more sadness and pain. It was really sad to read how the author described how much she disliked herself and just knew nobody could possibly love her. But for many unique reasons, WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER is a moving, intriguing story. If you enjoy memoirs that tell it like it is and can take the realism this one deals out, you should give WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER a try.
GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO DANIELLE AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT HARPER COLLINS, I HAVE 
ONE COPY OF THIS FASCINATING
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65 comments:

debbie said...

I really liked your honest review. Sometimes, the most difficult books to read, are the ones the effect us the most. It sounds like she went through a tremendous amount in her life. I would very much like to read this book.
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Colleen Turner said...

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