#BookReview: The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare @HoratioClare @EmmaFinnigan @EandTBooks #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater

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About the Book

As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter’s occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.

It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression – such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie’s cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.

In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.

 

My Thoughts

I was drawn to The Light in the Dark as soon as I was offered a copy for review, it felt like serendipity and now I’ve read it I can say it really was the perfect book at the exact moment I needed to read it.

The Light in the Dark is a diary of the slow journey into winter – beginning with autumn and the months leading up to Christmas arriving, which brings some lighter moments, before the long, dark months that are January and February.

I used to love this time of year as the nights draw in and you can enjoy all the cosiness of closing the curtains and lighting a scented candle etc but ten years ago a very traumatic thing happened in my life and ever since then the darker nights and colder weather make me feel very down. Clare writes of an awful thing that happened on his mother’s farm at a similar time of year and while it’s completely different to my own story, it felt like it mirrored a lot of my own emotions about this time of year. The way that life is a struggle anyway for many of us as the days get shorter and then to have something terrible happen in these months somehow makes it all feel even worse. Clare captures this all so well, it brings a lump to the throat.

There’s real beauty in this book even when the subject matter is more melancholy. I loved the way you can feel the change into winter through the writing, with the break in the depressive feelings as Christmas arrives. Then there’s the long, seemingly never-ending January days, where the memories of how oppressive that month can feel at times really comes through on the page.

‘This loathsome ball of negativity, clamped to my ankle by a chain of self-loathing, follows me around. It is like being stalked by a ghoul. Turn your gaze outwards, I keep telling myself. You do not matter, other people matter, the land matters, the sky and the world. If only you would get out of the way of your own view!’

I really appreciated how open and honest Clare is about his own feelings of depression and how his work environment, and the never getting to see much daylight in the winter months, make his emotions so much harder to cope with. I could identify with so many of his thoughts at this time of year, and it helps to know you’re not the only one. This book is never depressing or maudlin though; it’s stunningly written and Clare has such a lyrical way of writing that this lifts the book through the darker moments. This book brought me such solace and it made me feel less alone in my winter melancholy.

There are so many beautiful passages in this book that evoke such wonderful imagery; Clare really does have such a brilliant turn of phrase. I highlighted quite a few paragraphs, and also found myself reading some aloud to my husband which I’ve never felt compelled to do before. This line was one of my favourites –  it says so much in so few words:

‘A solar panel farm gazes darkly at the clouds, its feet in water.’

The Light in the Dark is a beautiful, moving and poignant meditation on the changing of the seasons. It gave me solace as the nights draw in ever faster and left me with a sense of hope for the spring to come. I adored reading this book and I know it will be one I read again in the years to come. I’ll definitely be buying copies for friends and I’ll be recommending it every chance I get. It’s a beautiful book and one I won’t forget!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

The Light in the Dark is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Horatio Clare is a writer, radio producer and journalist. Born in London, he and his brother Alexander grew up on a hill farm in the Black Mountains of south Wales. Clare describes the experience in his first book Running for the Hills (John Murray 2006) in which he sets out to trace the course and causes of his parents divorce, and recalls the eccentric, romantic and often harsh conditions of his childhood. The book was widely and favourably reviewed in the UK, where it became a bestseller, as in the US.

Running for the Hills was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Horatio has written about Ethiopia, Namibia and Morocco, and now divides his time between South Wales, Lancashire and London. He was awarded a Somerset Maugham Award for the writing of A Single Swallow (Chatto and Windus, 2009).

 

You can find the rest of the stops on the tour at the following blogs:

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Stacking the Shelves with a brand new #bookhaul (25 Aug 2018)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

It’s been a really busy and chaotic three weeks here so I haven’t done a stacking the shelves in that time. I’ve still been acquiring new books though so here is a haul from the last three weeks!

 

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The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

I was so thrilled to find out that I’d won a giveaway of this book and it made my day when it arrived. It’s a gorgeous hardback, with a crystal and a note from the author. This is a book I will treasure and I can’t wait to read it.

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Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

I’ve been so keen to read this book so I treated myself a couple of weeks ago and I’m hoping to get to read it soon. It feels like it’s going to be one of those books that once I start it I won’t be able to put it down.

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All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

I pre-ordered this book and I read it in two sittings as soon as it appeared on my kindle. It was such a compelling and devastating read. It’s very well written and it’s a book that is staying with me so I recommend it.

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Dark Pines by Will Dean

I’ve heard so many good things about this book so I finally gave in and bought a copy. I’ve started reading it but it’s been a busy time and I haven’t fully got into it. I’m going to make time to read a chunk of it over the weekend though as I feel sure I will love it.

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

I love Liz Nugent’s writing, all her novels have been brilliant so I couldn’t resist buying this new one. I hope to have time to sit and read this one very soon.

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Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

I was super excited to be invited to be on the blog tour for Ronnie’s debut novel and when I got the NetGalley widget emailed to me this week I immediately downloaded it. I’m really looking forward to reading this!

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Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

Hasn’t this book got such a great cover? I was sent a copy of this to review and I’m planning on reading it in the next couple of weeks. It sounds a bit different to my usual reads and I think I’m going to very much enjoy it.

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Love & Fame by Susie Boyt

I jumped at the chance when I was offered a copy of this to review for the blog tour as it sounds like a very me book.

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

I’m so thrilled to have been sent a copy of this book as it sounds like exactly my type of read. I’m really enjoying thrillers at the moment so this definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long at all!

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I’ve seen this book around on social media and have been so keen to get my hands on a copy of it. It was so exciting when the publicist messaged me to offer me a review copy and I can’t wait to read it!

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

I loved Claire Douglas’ first novel and have now got all her other books on my TBR but couldn’t resist when her new novel was sent to me by the publisher. I think this will be a fast-paced read and I can’t wait to get to it!

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The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

I was so intrigued by this new edition of The Snowman as I grew up with the picture book and the gorgeous TV adaptation. I’m really interested to see what the experience of reading a new adaptation as a novel will be. I’m saving this to read on a dull afternoon when I can be all cosy with a blanket and just get lost in this book.

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I requested this on NetGalley as the premise really sounds so good! I was thrilled when I got the approval email and I’m so keen to read it. The book’s not out until next year though so I’m going to try and read some more of 2018’s releases before starting this one.

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The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

I was delighted to be offered the chance to read this book. It’s a mediation on winter and as soon as I read the blurb it just called to me. I feel like this will be a book that I get a lot out of.

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

I squealed when the publisher emailed me about this book as I loved Mindy Mejia’s previous novel The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman (you can read my review here if you’d like to). I actually started reading this late last night and am sure I’ll be finishing it today!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This book came into my life in a serendipitous way… I’d literally just read a great review of it and knew it was a book that I needed to read and then not two minutes later I saw the publisher offering copies for bloggers to review on twitter! I think this will be a very moving read, but also an important one.

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Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve seen this book on social media and have been having serious envy as I love Pierre LeMaitre’s writing. You can just imagine my sheer joy when this gorgeous hardback arrived on my door mat yesterday! This definitely won’t be on my TBR for long, I can’t wait to read it!

 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂