December has arrived, and we are now approaching the shortest day of the year. With Christmas just around the corner, here are some winter book recommendations to read (or re-read!) this festive season.
Disclaimer: The majority of the books discussed in this article are ones I have previously read apart from A Winter Book: Selected Stories, which I discovered in my research of some winter reads I discovered in my research for writing this article.
The Snow Child (2012), Eowyn Ivey
“Where else in life, Mabel wondered, could a woman love so openly and with such abandon?”
This is one I read during the summer, oddly enough. This is an enchanting, sad, evocative, heartwarming ‘fairy tale for adults.’
Based on the Russian fairy tale Snegurochka, this story is set in the 1920s and follows a middle-aged couple, Jack and Mabel, who has moved to Alpine, Alaska ostensibly to start a homestead but really to escape their grief of having lost a baby, which they are unable to overcome.
During the first snowfall in the brutal Alaskan landscape, they build a child out of snow. When they wake the following morning, the snow child has disappeared but a little girl mysteriously appears and their lives are forever changed.
Drawing heavily on the theme of darkness, both metaphorical and literal, this is a magical, wintry story that will make you feel you have been transported to a beautiful Alaskan backdrop.
A Winter Book: Selected Stories (2006), Tove Jasson
This is one I haven’t read, although I have read The Summer Book, also by Tove Jasson (author of the children’s Moomin books) and can vouch for the fact that it was indeed a seasonal read for the summer months.
According to Goodreads, A Winter Book essentially brings together some of Tove Jasson’s best loved stories for adults from her youth to older age, all translated into English from Finnish.
Whilst most of the stories are not set in the winter, this collection does contain stories of living by the sea and of icebergs – and the Nordic atmosphere makes for a cosy book to curl up with while holding a hot drink on a frosty day.
Rebecca (1938), Daphne du Maurier
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
This, to me, is arguably one of the most memorable opening lines in literature hands down. It immediately sets the dark, gloomy tone and makes the reader aware that something must have happened at Manderley and alludes to some significance in the plot…
Rebecca is a gothic story that follows an unnamed young woman working as a lady’s companion for a rich American woman on a trip to Monte Carlo. There, the young woman meets Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widower who suddenly proposes to her and whom she instantly marries, despite a very brief courtship. She returns with him to his Cornish estate, Manderley, as the new Mrs de Winter. However, the young woman soon learns that Rebecca, the titular character and the first Mrs de Winter, died just a year before she and Maxim met, supposedly in a sailing accident. Rebecca’s presence mysteriously continues to hang over the household. Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper and antagonist, continually undermines the new Mrs de Winter, making her feel that she will always be in Rebecca’s shadow.
Akin to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which Du Maurier may have been influenced by, Rebecca is a haunting, evocative psychological thriller, which is full of suspense and multiple twists right up to the novel’s climax. Whilst it is not obviously set during the winter months, its dark, mysterious, eerie tone makes it an especially perfect read when the nights get colder.
A Christmas Carol (1843), Charles Dickens
With Christmas coming, what would an article on winter reads be without including A Christmas Carol? This classic, beloved Christmas tale tells the story of an elderly miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. These ghosts teach Scrooge the true meaning of Christmas.
A heartwarming novella (just over 100 pages!), this is a moral tale of personal transformation and redemption that still captures the spirit of Christmas – and is the perfect book to curl up to during the festive season.
And that’s it – some winter reading inspiration in time for the holiday season!