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Book Review: The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare

Horatio Clare writes with great candour and generosity in The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal, offering a fierce flicker of hope to others in this illuminating contemplation of his own depression.

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.

When Clare’s early September birthday prompts thoughts of winter, a season he’s struggled through in recent years, he recalls how: “Last winter I thought I would go mad with depression. I was mad, but aware-mad, at least.

Clare tries to find and harness winter’s beauty and light to help him function better and be more present for his family. His journal is an attempt to avoid being pulled under again, by bleak weather and drab washed-out colours; loss of daylight and warmth; layers that muffle sound and feeling and by the withdrawal or hibernation of living creatures.

He might not stave off his depression but where he was “aware-mad” last winter, I’d say he’s “aware-depressed” here. In noting down and describing what he sees, he conducts a remarkable reappraisal of what some consider to be a dead season, discovering the colour and beauty of winter, and finding life in muted, often lonely isolation.

Clare’s ferocious love for his family and the natural world comes through in this lyrical and moving record of his debilitating battle with depression. Its pages whisper hope and come with a promise that, no matter how weak or subdued, the light is still there in winter. Horatio Clare reveals the truth in this through being an admirably honest and tenacious torchbearer here, and by opening himself up to others, he encapsulates The Light in the Dark.

The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare is published by Elliot & Thompson. It is available as an ebook, in hardback and in paperback from 3 October. You can find it at Amazon UK or instead buy it from Hive where every purchase you make helps to support your local independent bookshop. For more on the author and his writing, check out his Author Website or find him on Twitter

My thanks to the publisher and LoveReading for providing me with a review copy. This review first appeared on LoveReading’s website here.

Book Review: In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

Inspired by real events but told by fictional characters Clare Clark’s latest novel, In the Full Light of the Sun, puts Weimar Berlin and a van Gogh art scandal in the frame.

In the Full Light of the Sun follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in a devastating scandal of 1930s’ Germany. It tells the story of Emmeline, a wayward, young art student; Julius, an anxious, middle-aged art expert; and a mysterious art dealer named Rachmann who are at the heart of Weimar Berlin at its hedonistic, politically turbulent apogee and are whipped up into excitement over the surprising discovery of thirty-two previously unknown paintings by Vincent van Gogh.

In the Full Light of the Sun is split into three sections, each with its own year: the first follows Julius, art expert, biographer and critic, in a position to influence careers and fortunes, his own included, in 1923; the second takes up Emmeline’s hedonistic life as an artist and young woman in search of inspiration, work and love, four years later in 1927; and finally in 1933, there’s the diary of a Jewish lawyer involved in the resulting court case. Still struggling to cope with a tragic personal loss, his world is fast becoming a smaller and scarier place, but he lives in hope of someone stepping in to call a halt on it.

The novel depicts Berlin at the height of a dynamic period of creativity, apparent freedom and innovation. But such heady times don’t guarantee clarity of vision and Clare Clark shows here how greatly people can be blinded by the glare when things burn so brightly, often leaving them deceived. Read more

Croeso. Welcome to Nut Press.

This is the online home of Kathryn Eastman. I’m a rugby-loving, tea-drinking chocoholic book squirrel and writer, who lives on a hill, that wanted to be a mountain, in Wales.

The Nut Press is full of book reviews, chocolate, adventures with squirrels, and a lot of tea drinking among other things. Oh, and very occasionally, some writing gets done.

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