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.
A moving winter diary that reveals the healing power of the natural world
• An evocative exploration of the season, beautifully designed.
• Horatio Clare is a multiple award-winning memoirist, nature and travel writer.
• Combines scintillating nature writing with a moving personal narrative, touching on issues of winter depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
• For readers of The Outrun by Amy Liptrot and the Seasons series by Melissa Harrison.
This beautiful book is about one man’s relationship with not only his own mental health, but with a country enveloped within winter’s closeted embrace. Winter is a paradox, a source of wonder and beauty, but for many people, it can be feel like an oppressive blanket that blocks out the sun and leads to periods of seasonal depression and exacerbates already debilitating periods of hopelessness.
It’s a deeply moving tale written with a touching honesty by Horatio Clare, who lays bare his own battles with depression. The language and descriptions are exquisite in their ability to open the complex relationship many of us have with this darkest of seasons.
“Depression, seasonal and otherwise, turns all this upside down: the past is a guilty place, the future a hanging threat, the present a humiliation. Stop it, you want to shout. Just stop it. Let me be.”
To me the author is seeking to show us through this often poetic tale, that by taking a moment to stop and observe the rhythms of the dark winter months, it can also be a period that is reviving and inspiring. He talks with a candid honesty about his own depression, of how anxiety often has a crippling affect not just him, but that there is no knock on affect for those he loves and cares about. His bravery in all of this is deeply moving.
Horatio Clare has taught me through his winter journal not only to stop and appreciate the simple joy of the darker months, that often leave me feeling claustrophobic, but to see each element of the natural cycle of our year as a gift that can help us cope with cloying and suffocating fretfulness.
“The sea has a power to draw out and rearrange our anxieties in simpler patterns; on the coast paths and the empty beaches I found a deep untangling. There is this in winter, too, in its reductions and parings, simplicity.”
It is a book that speaks to all of us and helped me to understand how winter can affect those who suffer with mental health issues. The honesty with which it is written is beautiful and the language exquisite. It’s a deeply moving study of one man’s relationship with winter, is all its glorious colours and yet on the flip side with its ability to inspire darker thoughts and fears. I’d like to think, this is a book that we should all read, to better understand a season that drives many of us inside to hibernate, when we should learn to celebrate the magic it has to offer. Most importantly of all it offers us all a lesson in not judging those that struggle with this time of year, for varying complex reasons.
Horatio Clare’s story should be celebrated for its honestly, the beauty of the language and the lessons it can teach us.
You can purchase The Light In The Dark from Amazon
About the author
Horatio Clare is a critically acclaimed author and journalist. His first book, Running for the Hills: A Family Story, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His second book, Truant is ‘a stunningly-written memoir’, according to the Irish Times. A Single Swallow: Following an Epic Journey from South Africa to South Wales, was shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year; Down to the Sea in Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men won the Stanford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2015. Horatio’s first book for children, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, won the Branford Boase Award 2016 for best debut children’s book. He lives in West Yorkshire.