The wild Atlantic coast of Ireland.
One question: who are we without the people who love us?
– Winter People
[ About the Book ]
Sis Cotter has lived her whole life in a small house by her beloved beach. Here, she grew up, reared her family, and buried her husband. Now her children are far away and, in three days, her house will be taken from her.
Next door, Lydia has withdrawn from her husband, her friends, her life. She watches the sea as her own private penance for a wrong she can never put right.
Peter’s best friend is dying, and his long-time foster mother is slowly forgetting who he is. Adrift without his two anchors, and struggling with the ethics of displacing people for a living, he looks for something to remind him of who he is and who he wants to be.
[ My Review ]
Winter People by Gráinne Murphy was published October 12th with Legend Press and is described as ‘a story of forgiveness, resilience, and the power of the sea to unlock what we are most afraid to say’. I am delighted today to share with you all my thoughts on this most beautiful novel and to celebrate its release, alongside many other reviewers on the blog tour.
Gráinne Murphy has a very empathetic style to her writing. She creates incredibly layered and authentic characters with personalities that immediately win the hearts and minds of any reader. Set in a rural community on the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland, we are introduced to Sis, Lydia and Peter, three strangers who have been left wondering about their life choices and the people they have loved.
Sis is spending the last few days in her house, the place she has called home all her life. Reared there, then married and having her own children there, Sis has always loved her place by the sea. For Sis a refreshing walk on the beach sets her right for the day and although some folk think that Sis is a little odd, she ignores any rumours and has always set her own course. Now, with her husband buried and her children no longer very present in her life, Sis must pack up her few bits and consider her days ahead. As she attempts to write letters to her children, she recalls memories from her past, both from her childhood and her married life.
Sis’s recollections take the reader on a heart wrenching journey through the years, all beautifully captured by Gráinne Murphy with gorgeous descriptive language flowing throughout. Sis broke my heart. Her strength and resilience, and her ability to forgive, are all so very admirable yet there was a wistful sense throughout of what could have been had she been dealt a different hand.
Lydia is a troubled individual riddled with a complex guilt that is eating her up inside. Alienating herself from her husband, her life, and her family, she is cocooned in the house nearest to Sis. Daily she watches the ebb and flow of the tide, as winter takes hold, from a window overlooking the beach. She has completely retreated from life, afraid to face people again. An event lead Lydia to this place and, as she surveys her domain, she waits, but for what? Lydia is in a self-imposed limbo that she feels she deserves. Her mother, her husband all attempt to coax her out of her bubble but Lydia is afraid.
Peter’s early years were spent in and out of foster care. As an adult he is very unsure of his place in the world. Commitment issues have trailed after him his whole life and now, with his closest childhood friend on death’s door, Peter needs to face up to some realities. Peter’s part in this novel was the most unexpected for me, yet such a necessary character to tie it all together. He is a troubled soul, haunted by a feeling of being adrift as the rest of the world moves on with their lives. The one strong female in his life was a long-term foster mother and now, with her suffering from dementia he fears he is losing all the ties that keep him sane.
Sis, Peter and Lydia are three random people with three very different stories but at the root of all is the question of belonging and to whom. We are given stunning insights into their lives, all beautifully portrayed with the eloquent hand of Gráinne Murphy. A novel of reflection, Winter People is a very powerful and emotive story full of beautiful imagery and a lingering sense of hope, a book that will resonate with many for various reasons.
[ Bio ]
Gráinne Murphy grew up in rural West Cork, Ireland. At university she studied Applied Psychology and Forensic Research. In 2011 she moved with her family to Brussels for 5 years. She has now returned to West Cork, working as a self-employed language editor specialising in human rights and environmental issues.
Twitter ~ @GraMurphy
Wonderful review, Mairéad. It definitely sounds like an emotional story.
Carla it’s quite a special read. Thank you so much