LONGLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2020
We live through a thousand winters in our lives – some big, some small.
This is wintering. It is the active acceptance of sadness, the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and commit to healing them the best we can.
In Wintering, Katherine May recounts her own journey through winter, sparked by a sudden illness in her family that plunged her into a time of uncertainty and seclusion. When life felt at its most frozen, she managed to find strength and inspiration from the incredible wintering experiences of others as well as from the remarkable transformations that nature makes to survive the cold. She discovered the magic of wintering as a chance for recovery and an opportunity for change.
This beautiful, perspective-shifting memoir teaches us to draw from the healing powers of the natural world and to embrace the winters of our own lives.
“Wintering is every bit as beautiful and healing as the season itself. Katherine May thoughtfully examines the emotional, spiritual, and geographical reality of the cold times, the dark days, and those periods of our lives when things are neither soft nor easy. In so doing, she offers a great and humane service to her readers: she shows us that wintering cannot be avoided, but need not be feared. This is truly a beautiful book.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
There is so much to treasure here – most of all, her fantastic descriptions of swimming in a winter sea: the assault of cold water, its steely embrace, the highs it produces – masochism mixed with salvation. “We have crossed a glorious, brave unspoken line,” she declares, as if swimming were a form of transgression. Her winter is customised. It is open season for all her ideas. I love the surprises of this book. Most of all, it is about the comforts of language. Reading is like slipping into a fur coat. May could protectively convince us of anything – the pleasures of cold weather, slow days, dusty libraries. They all start to seem like prizes and her sensual connoisseurship a joy. – Guardian Book of the Week
Published by Rider in the UK, 6th February 2020, and Riverhead in the US, November 2020.