The Centre of Winter

Marya Hornbacher

A fascinating, highly unusual literary novel of love, obsession and powerful women by the author of the highly acclaimed ‘Wasted’.

‘All the seasons here in the north move toward their own end, except winter, which moves toward its centre and sits there to see how long you can take it.’

At the centre of winter, in Motley, Minnesota, Arnold Schiller gives in to the oppressive season that reigns outside and also to his own inner demons and 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 Kate 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 each other, and survive. ‘The Centre of Winter’ finds humour 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 centre of winter, Marya Hornbacher’s debut novel will leave you breathless, tearful, and ultimately, inspired.

‘You cannot live with the past cluttering up the house. You cannot waste your love. You must love what is left, what has the will to live.’

Reviews of The Centre of Winter

    • Praise for ‘Wasted’:
    • ‘A stunningly original and beautifully written book gouging deep into a gruesome subject which, by comparison, other writers have merely flirted with.’ Evening Standard
    • ‘This factual account of a twenty-three-year-old’s experience of anorexia and bulimia is not just another confessional. It has not been written as an act of therapy or for financial gain. It is a prose poem…Like Plath, Hornbacher writes with a metaphoric intensity which at times seems tragically indistinguishable from the power of her drive to self-destruct. Her brutal honesty as to why it happened to her and her lack of special pleading only add to the essential pain of the book. If you want to understand anorexia, read this book.’ Scotsman
    • ‘What marks “Wasted” out is the quality of the voice. Hornbacher is, simply, a good writer. Coolly vivid, there’s an edge to her prose…Her gift for description makes even the familiar aspects of the phenomenon newly real.’ Guardian