Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

Midwinter Break

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend - a holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing, and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar. But over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties that exist between them. Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of ...

Details Midwinter Break

TitleMidwinter Break
Release DateAug 22nd, 2017
PublisherJonathan Cape
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Cultural, Ireland, European Literature, Irish Literature

Reviews Midwinter Break

  • Paromjit
    This is a profoundly moving and perceptive examination of the anatomy of a long marriage. Gerry and Stella Gilmore are retired, now living in Scotland, and facing the midwinter of their lives and their marriage. Gerry, once an architect, a mediocre one in his estimation, cannot get through a day without his drinking but his love for his wife is plain to see. Stella was a teacher, but her son and grandson live in Canada, leaving her feeling she ne...
  • Maureen
    Irish born Stella and Gerry are at a crossroads in their lives. Approaching their late sixties, they no longer share common interests - Gerry has his drinking, whilst Stella has her religion, a faith which has never deserted her, even at the lowest point in her life. They may not share common interests, but they still share intimacies that come from a long marriage, from knowing a person as well as you know yourself - the way Gerry still takes St...
  • Elyse Walters
    Bernard MacLaverty is an Irish author - new to me. His writing is impeccable and intimate. He paints a clear portrait of a retired middle age married couple.However, although I appreciate the authors understanding of this relationship - which we observed up close and personal - I didn't actually enjoy the plot or the themes in this novel. My own personal beliefs are so very different from both Stella and Gerry - I didn't have much empathy for the...
  • Diane S ☔
    Stella and Gerry, married for forty years, in the retirement years of their life, one son, one grandson. They take a weekend trip, leaving Scotland, and heading to Amsterdam. Gerry thinks it is just for time away, change of pace, but Stella has other motives, a discontent in her life and a spiritual promise made during a time of heartbreaking distress. Gerry drinks too much, is often dismissive of her faith, and Stella wants there to be something...
  • BlackOxford
    All Women Marry Beneath ThemselvesLike the Shakers, the Beguine movement was an attempt to provide some institutional respite for women in a world dominated by men, their narcissistic violence, and chronically inadequate women’s toilet facilities. The Begijnhof in Amsterdam is a vestige of this movement, which is probably no less necessary today than it was in medieval society.Gerry is a boor and a functional alcoholic. Stella is spiritually-mi...
  • Gumble's Yard
    The family is raised, the work’s done. That can’t be it, can it? There’s ten or twenty years left over, as it were. We’ve cut the life of our cloth wrongly. It doesn’t fit …. I have a sense of drift. I want to do something with the time I have left. Other than watch you drink This book is the story of a midwinter break taken in Amsterdam by a retired couple Gerry and Stella – Gerry and Stella are a Northern Irish Catholic Couple now...
  • Hugh
    MacLaverty doesn't write novels very often - this is only the second since the Booker shortlisted Grace Notes in 1997 (the only other one I have read). Once again this is a beautifully poised story of a crisis in a long lasting marriage.Like its author, its protagonists moved from Ulster to Scotland to escape the Troubles. They are spending a short winter holiday in Amsterdam. Both have secrets - the atheist architect Gerry tries and largely fail...
  • Dean
    Novels like "Midwinter Break" by MacLaverty are the reason because I've became an ardent and passionate reader!!!Gerry and Stella a couple for decades make a trip to Amsterdam and must confront the shadows and hurts lurking in the past....They must cope with the fact that events and decisions made deliberately in the past have not lost their shaping power at all.Gerry try to find solace with alcohol, and Stella search for meaning leads her to a d...
  • Tony
    Gerry and Stella. They are an old married couple. Well, pensioners anyhow. They are Irish but then there was an incident and now they live in Glasgow. She was a teacher; he an architect. He is an alcoholic; she is devout. There is a fissure in their marriage. This is a story about a trip they take to Amsterdam. There will be flashbacks, teasingly and piecemeal, about the incident. We follow them, together and alone, among the Dutch, and it is our...
  • Karen
    MIDWINTER BREAK BY BERNARD MACLAVERTYSpoiler Alert--You may not want to continue reading this review before you read the book.This is a story written with compassion and love. It is about a married retired couple named Gerry and Stella. There is a lot of peace and tranquility in terms of the way Bernard Maclaverty has written this lovely novel. The two main character's Gerry and Stella are from Ireland who now live in Scotland. Gerry used to be a...
  • Dianne
    This is the story of Gerry and Stella, in their early sixties, off on a 4-day holiday to Amsterdam. They are at pivotal moment in their lives and their marriage. Gerry is an alchoholic and Stella is fed up and looking to lead a more purposeful and spiritual life.This was well-written but it really dragged for me, especially toward the end. I don't know how Gerry and Stella felt, but this seemed like the longest vacation in history. Too much blah ...
  • Barbara
    Mac Laverty is a writer of gorgeous prose, and deeply thoughtful novels. His latest novel strengthens his reputation as an exceptional writer. Stella and Gerry are a retired couple in their 70’s. Mac Laverty spreads details about their lives throughout the book rather than giving them to the reader upfront. They now live in Glasgow and have been there for several decades. Stella grew up in a large Catholic family in rural Northern Ireland and w...
  • Tooter
    2.5 Stars rounded down. This book really dragged for me....not enough to DNF it but enough to keep hoping it would end soon so I could start another book.
  • Rebecca
    In MacLaverty’s quietly beautiful fifth novel, a retired couple faces up to past trauma and present incompatibility during a short vacation in Amsterdam. The limited time span and settings – the couple’s home in Glasgow plus various locations in Amsterdam, mostly interiors – are qualities that would lend themselves well to a film or theater adaptation. The author’s determination to follow these characters through all the wearisome tasks...
  • Stephen Clynes
    Follow Gerry and Stella Gilmore as they go on a short break away to Amsterdam.I found Midwinter Break a refreshing change from your average run-of-the-mill mix of novels. It is a love story but not with young, vibrant, enthusiastic twenty year olds. Gerry and Stella are a retired couple who have been married for many, many years. I thought Bernard described the dynamics of having been married together for a very long time spot on. I really engage...
  • SueLucie
    How emotionally draining this book turned out to be. It touched me on levels I hadn’t even considered before, perhaps because I am fast approaching the age of Gerry and Stella, and have also been married ‘for a protracted period’.It’s a fact, people change over time. They develop new interests or existing ones come more to the fore and might not be shared with a long-term partner. Personality foibles that seem charming and perfectly toler...
  • Peter Boyle
    Gerry and Stella are a retired couple from Northern Ireland, now living in Glasgow. They've had successful careers in architecture and teaching, and raised a son who lives in Canada. Stella is a devout Catholic who enjoys cryptic crosswords. Gerry is a professional cynic, and likes to tease his wife about her religious fervour. He has also developed a serious drinking problem, though he would be the last person to admit it. They take a winter tri...
  • G.H. Eckel
    Most people love this novel and I see why. The writing is good, the characters interact intimately, and all of us have been through the ups and downs of a relationship. What didn't work for me was the story line, which has to do with me not the novel. An older, married couple find themselves in an empty nest. He's alcoholic and dependent on her. She's decided to devote herself to religion because of a deal she cut with God 25 years ago. They're o...
  • Susan Johnson
    3.5 stars This is a beautifully written story of a middle-aged couple who are at the point of their lives where they are wondering what is next. They are examining if this is all there is. The writing is beautiful and the depiction of marriage in the little shared intimacies people share in long relationships. I was so touched that he took her hand stepping off curbs and kissed in elevators. Both people are coping with their own crutches. Sheila'...
  • Hans
    Gerry and Stella are married a long time. They each have their own problem. They each deal with it in their own way. They bounce of each other. Their humour is superb. Situations are very recognizable. There's no escape in flight. They love each other deeply. They need each other.
  • Roger Brunyate
     Threescore Years and Then . . . ? And did you get whatyou wanted from this life, even so?I did.And what did you want?To call myself beloved, to feel myselfbeloved on the earth. This poem, "Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver, is just about the last thing he ever wrote. Bernard MacLaverty quotes it near the end of his beautiful novel, and it distills the essence of the entire book. But it comes at a moment of despair; any transcendence is hard won ...
  • Paul Fulcher
    I suppose we’re lucky to have each other to ignore.Midwinter Break is a beautifully written story of a retired couple, Gerry an atheist and an architect and Stella a pious Catholic and teacher, from Northern Ireland but now living in Scotland, their one son grown-up with a child of his own and living far away in Canada.The novel opens with a description of Gerry and Stella's bedtime routines, ones which highlight the problems at the core of the...
  • Bettie☯
    BABTListen here :O)Description: A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar – but over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties which exist between them.Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set...
  • Barbara
    “Midwinter Break” is a quiet, beautiful novel about empty nesters that take a long weekend holiday. Author Bernard MacLaverty writes restrained yet intimate prose allowing the reader to be part of the holiday.Gerry and Stella Gilmore set off from their home in Scotland to travel to Amsterdam. Although told in third person, the writing is such that it’s a personal experience. The reader feels each characters experience and is akin to a fly o...
  • Jill
    I have very mixed feelings about this book. I wouldn't even say it is a book about a marriage but rather a book about two people who happen to be married trying to find meaning in their lives. This was a heavy read for me and reminds me again how the emotional burdens we carry with us can destroy more than just ourselves. 3.5 stars rounded to 4 mainly for the beautiful last page and because the author was able to make me feel connected to two cha...
  • Anni
    This novel reminds me so much of the film ‘Le Weekend’ which features a remarkably similar ‘storyboard’ of an older married couple finding their relationship under strain whilst on a short holiday abroad – although the film is set in Paris, rather than Amsterdam, where this story takes place. In both cases we find the female partner is openly dissatisfied, whilst the husband is either in denial - or bewildered by the breakdown of commun...
  • Jonathan Pool
    "There are important questions to be answered. How can we best live our lives? How can we live good lives"?(90)Stella is the victim of a life changing event. She continues to contemplate the meaning of life in the light of her unfortunate experience, and is no nearer to finding any answers as the book closes. Midwinter Break leaves this reader with a similar feeling that the huge cracks in the marriage of Stella and Gerry are unresolvable.This is...
  • Phil
    I do not write plot summaries. The publicist has done a fine job with the one provided by the publisher.Stella and Gerry are an “old married couple,” in their upper sixties, married for at least forty years. Both are set in their ways, both accommodate their partner’s habits, for better or worse. One senses and witnesses acts of love and compassion.But both are living with deep-rooted frustrations which are acted out by each on the other (p...
  • MisterHobgoblin
    Bernard MacLaverty is a sublime writer and Midwinter Break is as good as anything he has ever written.Gerry and Stella Gilmore are a long-married couple of pensionable age, living in Glasgow but originally from the north of Ireland. Gerry is fond of a nightcap and Stella has quite a strong Catholic faith. They know one another inside out. They have decided to take a mid-winter break to Amsterdam, perhaps to celebrate their enduring marriage.Gradu...