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Midwinter Break

Bernard MacLaverty
2017, 243 pages, Northern Ireland

Gerry and Stella, a retired Irish couple in their late sixties, set out for a holiday weekend in Amsterdam. They have an adult son living in Canada and one grandchild. The Troubles in Ireland were the reason they moved to Glasgow. Gerry used to be an architect and Stella was a school teacher. Initially we meet a couple whose relationship seems safe, easy and familiar. Soon though the reader learns about their secret thoughts and behaviour; about their traumatic experience of a bomb attack in Belfast and the impact it has had on their lives up to the present day. Gerry makes fun of her being a devout catholic. Stella knows that he drinks too much whisky. The couple are experts in avoiding talking about subjects that really bother them until it is bound to explode. MacLaverty describes the lives of ordinary people and succeeds in captivating the reader’s interest.


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