The Center of Winter
By Marya Hornbacher
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060192266, 336pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 2005
List Price: $23.95*
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At the center of winter, in Motley, Minnesota, Arnold Schiller gives in to the oppressive season that reigns outside and also to his own inner demons -- he commits suicide, leaving a devastated family in his wake.
Claire Schiller, wife and mother, takes shelter from the emotional storm with her husband's parents but must ultimately emerge from her grief and help her two young children to recover. Esau, her oldest, is haunted by the same darkness that plagued his father. At twelve years old, he has already been in and out of state psychiatric hospitals, and now, with the help of his mother and sister, he must overcome the forces that drive him deep into himself. But as the youngest, perhaps it is Katie who carries the heaviest burden. A precocious six-year-old who desperately wants to help her mother hold the family together, she will have to come to terms with the memory of her father, who was at once loving and cruel.
Narrated alternately by Claire, Katie, and Esau, this powerful and passionate novel explores the ways in which both children and adults experience tragic events, discover solace and hope in one another, and survive. The Center of Winter finds humor in unlikely places and evokes the north -- its people and landscape -- with warmth, sensitivity, and insight. The story of three people who, against all odds, find their way out of the center of winter, Marya Hornbacher's debut novel will leave you breathless, tearful, and ultimately inspired.
“A truly stunning debut... Chips away at the darkness to reveal the ever-evolving possibilities of the human spirit.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Uplifting, even humorous. . . . A captivating first novel.”
“Hornbacher’s debut novel is one of triumph and survival...A gripping tale of a family that copes despite the odds.”
“Hornbacher succeeds marvelously...[She] constructs a kaleidoscope of speakers at times beautiful and often disturbing...[An] adroit first novel.”
-Los Angeles Book Review
“Told alternately by Claire, Kate and Esau... Hornbacher finds the perfect pitch for their voices and their stories.”
“Intimate... [Hornbacher’s] description of Claire Shiller’s long, slow return to physical desire is delicious in its restraint and directness.”
-New York Times Book Review
“Genuine, engaging, and unforgettable...With this stunning debut novel, Hornbacher...proves herself to be a master storyteller.”
-Booklist (starred review)