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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The new novel from the author of the Costa Best Novel-shortlisted 'The Elephant Keeper'. In the winter of 1924 the most celebrated English writer of the day, 84-year-old Thomas Hardy, was living at his Dorset home of Max Gate with his second wife, Florence. Aged 45 but in poor health, Florence came to suspect that Hardy was in the grip of a romantic infatuation. The woman ...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Fourth Estate Ltd.
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Diane S ☔
3.5 This is not an action packed novel, no car chases, murders or huge emotional scenes. This is a quiet, soulful look at the last years of the writer and poet Thomas Hardy and his second wife.

Forty years previously while walking through the country he saw a beautiful dark haired milkmaid who he never met but she often haunted his thoughts. He would base the character of Tess on this young girl.

Now 84, he is stuck in his routines, no longer writing novels but writing poetry, he lives with his wi
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I recently read ‘Jude the Obscure’ and was quite unsettled by the unforgiving bleakness that enveloped the destiny of its key characters. It made me curious about the life of Thomas Hardy and the experiences that shaped the fatalistic worldview in his novels. Hence, I was motivated to read Winter by Christopher Nicholson, a fictionalized account of the last few years of Hardy’s life.

It was the winter of 1924. Hardy (age 84) was living at his Dorset home of Max Gate with his second wife (Florenc
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of an odd, ill-assorted, triangle of people; one of whom is the, now elderly, author, Thomas Hardy. Hardy is eighty four, when we meet him in this novel. His second wife, Florence, is in her mid-forties, and feeling oppressed by her life and the fact she sees little to look forward to. The third person is Gertrude Bugler, a young woman, daughter of a milkmaid, amateur actress, wife and mother.

Told from the perspective of all three of those involved, we gradually learn about the
A perfect novel about a few months of Thomas Hardy’s later life. On the surface it’s the story of a rather odd love triangle: the octogenarian Hardy was infatuated with Gertrude Bugler, a local Dorset actress (and daughter of a dark-haired milkmaid who had bewitched him decades earlier) who had agreed to play Tess on the London stage; his neurotic second wife, Florence, got wind of his feelings and jealously decided to sabotage Gertie. Underneath, I found this to be a deeply moving book about fe ...more

Description: Inspired by the novel 'Winter' by Christopher Nicholson and dramatised by Sara Davies.

The most famous writer of his day is living in chilly seclusion in Dorset with his second wife and former secretary, Florence. Between these two frozen hearts comes the talented amateur actress Gertrude Bugler, playing Tess in the first production of Hardy's play, provoking local and national fascination.

Florence determines to put a stop to what she sees as H
This is an historical novel about Thomas Hardy, the famous author. In this book, Hardy is 84 years old and living in his house in the country, where he has lived for 40 years. He is living with his second wife, Florence, who is 40 years younger than him.

Hardy becomes besotted with Gertrude Bulger, a 25 year old girl, who plays Tess in a local adaptation of his novel into a play. He even writes her love poems, which of course, does not make Florence very happy.

At times the writing is very beautif
Canadian Reader
In WINTER, Christopher Nicholson explores a brief period in author Thomas Hardy's 85th year, when he was infatuated with the young Dorset woman, Gertrude Bugler, who had played Tess in the local Hardy players' dramatic version of the famous writer's favourite novel. As Nicholson's book opens, Hardy is offering Gertrude the role of Tess in the London Haymarket Theatre production of the play. Nicholson also gives us scenes of Hardy reflecting--on his life, his approaching death, his first marriage ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Drawing heavily on what is known about Thomas Hardy’s later years and the first production of the play ‘Tess’ –Christopher Nicholson has written a novel that explores many of themes which might have interested Hardy himself. I am a little nervous perhaps, of novels written about real people – and I don’t mean historical figures from so far away a time as to make them almost fictional like anyway (is that just me?) but those people who lived in times not so very long ago – who we still feel we ca ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This quiet, well-crafted novel focuses tightly on an episode in the winter of Thomas Hardy’s life, three years before his death in 1928 at the age of eighty-seven. Although he had given up writing fiction by this point, Hardy was involved in the staging of dramatized versions of some of his novels by a local acting troupe in Dorchester, the Hardy Players. The novel explores Hardy’s relationship with the troupe’s leading lady, the beautiful and charismatic (though uneuphoniously named) Gertrude B ...more
Roger Brunyate
Hardy at Midnight

Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Towards the end of this elegiac novel by Christopher Nicholson, the aged Thomas Hardy reads one of his favorite poems, Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight," whose closing lines I quote above. It is an appropriate image. The author, now 84, has his novels and most of his poetry behind him, although he will publish one more collection, the aptly named "Winter Words." He spends the w
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A door of the house opened, and out stepped an old man, who stood motionless on the gravel drive. From a distance, he seemed less a living human being than a spectre who had temporarily chosen to haunt the spot where he had once lived. The textures of the fog drained the substance from him so thoroughly that it might not have been surprising had he faded entirely from view. With him, and equally ghostly, was a dog, a white terrier."

The old man, and thus is he referred to throughout this novel,
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Setting: 1924; Dorset, UK. In this fictionalised account, 84 year old author Thomas Hardy is living at his country house, Max Gate, with his second wife, 45 year old Florence - his wife is feeling very insecure following an operation to remove a growth from her neck and is concerned about the lack of affection shown to her by Thomas. Meanwhile, Hardy is becoming increasingly infatuated with Gertrude, a 24 year old local woman who is taking the role of Tess in a local production of Tess of the D' ...more
Mary-Ellen Lynn
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Hardy had a very particular view of marriage; he was married twice and in neither case very happily. It is a common joke among Hardy enthusiasts that Hardy’s idea of a good wife was a dead wife. He had a troubled relationship with his first wife, Emma Gifford, but her death inspired him to write a volume of beautiful love poetry, much to the annoyance of his second wife. Thirty-nine years his junior, Florence was a volatile and jealous woman when it came to Hardy’s interest in other women ...more
I received an ARC of this title from the publisher.

I always thought it was sad that the Roman Stoic philosopher Cicero, in his moral treatise De Senectute (On Old Age), argues that not only do old men not engage in the pleasures of a lover any longer, but they are actually relieved to be free from such sensations. Seneca, in one of his Stoic epistles, agrees with Cicero's sentiment by telling Lucilius that it is a relief to have tired out one's appetites and be done with such things.

Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since studying Thomas Hardy's literature at school I have been a firm fan of all his novels. Tess of the D'Urbevilles has always been a favourite, so I was intrigued when presented with this title for a recent book club selection. In the 1920’s Thomas Hardy did actually adapt his apparently favourite novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles for a Dorset amateur dramatic group, so this novel is based on real events.
Winter is not something I would have normally wanted to read as I do not like it when it se
Winter is a novel which tells the story of the complicated relationship between the author, Thomas Hardy, his second wife, Florence and a budding young actress called Gertrude Bugler. The story takes place in the 1920s and explores a possible version of events which have a root in the real world. It explores the shine which the elderly Thomas takes to Gertrude, who plays the lead character in an amateur theatre group's production of 'Tess'. The situation becomes difficult, because of the stress, ...more
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
Inspired by the novel 'Winter' by Christopher Nicholson and dramatised by Sara Davies.

The most famous writer of his day is living in chilly seclusion in Dorset with his second wife and former secretary, Florence. Between these two frozen hearts comes the talented amateur actress Gertrude Bugler, playing Tess in the first production of Hardy's play, provoking local and national fascination.

Florence determines to put a stop to what she sees as Hardy's ludicrous infatuation
Mary Ess
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written thought provoking look at relationships, the passage of time and old age.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An awfully bleak story with incredibly annoying main characters for whom I developed no sympathy through the 247 pages.
The only thing that could save this book in my eyes is how well written it is. The author has great technical writing skills but the story lacks emotions if not action. It needs some sparks to make it truly memorable.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully written ode to the writer Thomas Hardy in his later years. I savored every word of it!
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Started really well with some beautiful prose and then I just couldn't find any sympathy for any of the characters. Barely managed to finish.
Tracey Rupp rawlins
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent loved this story from 3 perspectives, highly recommended!
How disappointing! I was looking forward to this book about the later years of one of my favorite authors, Thomas Hardy, but the main characters were so unlikable and the narratives slow and repetitive that I almost gave up on this one (and probably should have). Hardy is 84 focusing on poetry. He lives in a country home with his second wife, Florence, who is roughly half his age. She is one of the most annoying, unpleasant characters I have ever encountered. And Hardy is not much better. The st ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous, gorgeous novel based on events of the famous but now elderly writer Thomas Hardy who is now 84. He is a kind man but largely drawn into his interior world, leaving his wife (who is 40 years younger) emotionally alone in their house hidden behind hundreds of huge trees which he will not cut. Into this comes a local young woman who is cast as Tess in a local amateur play based on this famous novel. But he becomes infatuated by the young woman, knowing nothing can be between them b ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written novel about the author of some of the best books ever written at the end of his life. The story is told from three points of view, Hardy himself, his second wife Florence and Gertrude Bugler a young woman chosen to play Tess in a production of the play of Tess of the D'Urbervilles in London. Hardy is besotted by Gertrude, Florence is jealous and Gertrude excited, not a recipe for happiness. However, this is a beautiful book that makes you want to read Hardy's books all over ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting snapshot of the life of Thomas Hardy in his last years. It is set against the staging of a version of Tess in Dorset and ultimately in London. Hardy is not a particularly sympathetic character who becomes besotted with the local woman who plays Tess in the amateur production, Gertrude Bugler. Hardy is struggling with his obsession with a woman who has no physical interest in him, he is unable to come to terms with the impact of his aging. He is also lacking any emotional intellige ...more
Susan Grodsky
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I took a long time to read this book because I had to stop at a certain point, read another book so I would be prepared for my book club meeting, then come back to this one.

The book is not for everyone. It's beautifully written but there's not much in the way of action. There is, instead, a shifting narrator that gives each of the three characters a chance to gain your sympathy by presenting their varying points of view. Some chapters are narrated by the 84 year old Thomas Hardy, others by his w
Becky Loader
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thomas Hardy is in the winter of his years, and I don't think I like him very much.

It is a brave author to take a major author such as Hardy and to tell his story.

Hardy is at home with his second wife, Florence, and he is still writing at 84. Florence, his former secretary, is much younger and has become quite irritable about nearly everything, including cutting back the trees. Hardy is stuck on writing a book, so he has turned to poems.

Then Gertrude Bugler enters the picture in a locally-produc
Nice atmospheric novel of Thomas hardy at home in his old old age and his collaboration, synergy, and dalliance? With the very young actor who plays the woman lead in the new hardy play . Fun, if dark and sad read.
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Christopher Nicholson was born in London in 1956. He read English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and lives in south-west England.

His first novel, THE FATTEST MAN IN AMERICA, was published in 2005. THE ELEPHANT KEEPER, which followed in 2009, was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel award and for the Encore Award. His third novel, WINTER, about the life of the elderly Thomas Hardy, was

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“In the air hung a damp, resinous fragrance often encountered in wooded parts of the countryside in the last stages of autumn. This was, with the possible exception of spring, the old man’s favourite season, the year quietly burning down and the steady passage of time made visible by the lowered sun and shortened days.” 0 likes
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