WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER by Candia McWilliam
Kirkus Star

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WINTER

A Memoir in Blindness

KIRKUS REVIEW

Not just a remarkable memoir of McWilliam’s (Wait Till I Tell You, 1997, etc.) battle with the onset of blindness, but also a blissful celebration of the poetry of her prose.

Strange little asides, digressions and complete interruptions mark this work. Some readers may shake their heads in confusion, but they will surely forgive as the stream of the author’s consciousness carries them along. She explains her functional blindness simply and matter-of-factly because, as a good Scot, speaking of dramatic personal matters is not acceptable. A masterful wordmonger, McWilliam consistently delivers the perfect word or phrase to express each thought. When she lost her sight, she was forced to adapt to audio books, but she never lost her love of the physical book. In addition to the loveliness of the prose, the author’s life story is just good reading: her childhood in Edinburgh, happy days spent on the Scottish Isle of Colonsay, the years she ignored her writing talents and how she dealt with her blindness. She drops names in the British way of assuming readers know exactly whom she is talking about, and she includes so many of England’s greats, who stimulated, encouraged and prodded her along the way. There is a slight hiccup in the middle of the book as McWilliam descends into cathartic confession, but it’s easily skimmed through and worth the wade. Her alcoholism and guilt are nothing new, but readers will cherish the author’s infectious bibliophilic delight. “I want to attest to the goodness of life and I want to share something,” she writes in closing. “If it isn’t a life—well, then, let it be a sentence.”

Anyone who enjoys a play of words and appreciates the turn of a phrase in a beautifully constructed sentence will value this book for years to come.

Pub Date: March 20th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-209450-6
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2011




NEW EXCELLENT MEMOIRS :

Nonfiction NINETY DAYS by Bill Clegg
by Bill Clegg
Nonfiction WE HEARD THE HEAVENS THEN by Aria Minu-Sepehr
by Aria Minu-Sepehr
Nonfiction MEMOIR OF A DEBULKED WOMAN by Susan Gubar
by Susan Gubar
Nonfiction BLOOM by Kelle Hampton
by Kelle Hampton

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionWILD SCOTS by Michael Fry
by Michael Fry
FictionHOLY TERROR IN THE HEBRIDES by Jeanne M. Dams
by Jeanne M. Dams
NonfictionON BLINDNESS by Bryan Magee
by Bryan Magee