This book couldn’t have come at a better time. Felicity Trotman has gathered some of the best stories, recipes, poems, and diary entries about the season in one fantastic book: Winter: A Book for the Season. From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, to pieces Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, and Dan Runyon, this delightful collection spans across the ages, from medieval to modern.
While most of the pieces tend to be from the sixteenth century onward, there are a few medieval entries. There is the nice addition of a snippet (The Green Knight’s Challenge) from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, along with an Arthurian piece from Sir Thomas Malory (1415-1471).
The book is broken out into three sections: The Old Year, Christmas: Secular and Sacred, and The New Year. There is no particular chronological order to the stories, Trotman’s picks flit from century to century but everything is centred around these three themes. I actually enjoyed the fact that this collection wasn’t necessarily slotted into one specific historical period or place.
Not every story has a happy ending, and Trotman showed readers all sides of winter – it’s beauty and bleakness. From the Christmasy heart-warming fireside tale, to basic advice for how to manage winter from sixteenth and seventeenth century diarists, to daring stories of survival by stranded explorers, winter good, and bad, is covered from all angles.
Some favourites from The Old Year include the modern The Cop and the Anthem by William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), and The Snow Man by fairytale master, Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875).
From the Christmas section, I enjoyed: Dulce Domum by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) of The Wind in the Willows fame and of course, Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).
In the final section, The New Year, my picks are: How Arthur Was Chosen King by Sir Thomas Malory, the farming advice of Thomas Tusser (1524-1580), and a brief diary entry by Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) on the winter wind in London, from January 26, 1666.
If you’re looking for a good book to read curled up by the fire, sipping a hot chocolate, wearing fluffy socks and trying your hand at Danish Hygge, this is the perfect read on a cold winter night.
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