With all the other demands on your time during this Festive Season, your reading time might be taking a hit. I know mine certainly is with friends unreasonably expecting me not to snuggle up on my sofa with a stack of books and chocolate but to be sociable and go out with them instead.
One excellent way of ensuring that you still squeeze in some quality reading time though is with a good short story and happily, there’s an excellent one just out by Isabel Ashdown which is an intensely satisfying read.
Ironically, it’s called A Quiet Winter, something I suspect I’m not alone in craving: who doesn’t fantasise about booking a remote cottage for the holidays, rather than entertaining the whole family on Christmas Day? Well, Sarah Ribbons has no family but she doesn’t want her friends to feel as if they have to include her in their plans, either.
Two years after her father’s death, Sarah Ribbons prepares to spend the festive season on her own in his crumbling old cottage. It’s not the idea of being alone that bothers her – she’s determined not to be a burden on well-meaning friends who try to coax her into joining them for Christmas – in fact, Sarah thinks she has life as she likes it: firmly under control.
But when an unexpected email raises the ghosts of a distant past, she finds herself questioning this way of life – and discovers friendship in the least likely of places.
If you’re new to Isabel’s writing, this is a wonderful introduction to her beautiful prose and a perfect place to start. Her writing’s measured, calming, almost meditative, and as I read, I could feel myself breathing out and relaxing, safe in the hands of an assured storyteller. Isabel writes so exquisitely about the mess that is modern life, the relationships we have, as well as those we do our best to avoid. Her characters always feel like real people you drop in to see for a while and she paints the landscapes in which they move incredibly beautifully.
A Quiet Winter is a timely seasonal short story about working out what’s important in life: about making connections with other people when all you may feel like doing is running away, and how sometimes those very same connections come along at the time we need them, if from the most unexpected quarters. A Quiet Winter works well as a stand-alone story but Sarah Ribbons is also the main character in Isabel’s second novel, Hurry Up and Wait, so if you enjoy this, and I think you will, you’ll be able to spend more time with Sarah during some very different chapters of her life before discovering Isabel’s other books and characters. I hope you enjoy A Quiet Winter. I know I did.
A Quiet Winter is a short story written by Isabel Ashdown and published by Myriad Editions. It is available as an ebook here or from Amazon UK or Amazon US. To find out more about Isabel and her books, visit her Author Website or Facebook Page or Follow Isabel on Twitter.