I ordered IN THE DEEP MIDWINTER shortly after reading and being deeply impressed with another Robert Clark novel, LOVE AMONG THE RUINS, which was a tale of teenage love in northern Minnesota in 1968, during the Vietnam war and the summer of the Chicago democratic convention disorders. This novel deals not with teenage love in the sixties, but with love (and all its repercussions) in the winter of 1949-1950 as it affected a 50-ish long-married couple and their 30-ish divorced daughter, who has an affair with a married man. The mores and moral beliefs of 1950 were quite different from those of the late 60s, which becomes quickly evident here. The principal character, Richard MacEwan - a lawyer who seems very buttoned-down, conservative and staid in his ways - is soon revealed as a man whose emotions run deep, and the death of his more profligate younger brother causes Richard's feelings to rise to the surface and even to endanger his marriage. Family secrets also rise to the surface, endangering the MacEwans marriage. There is so much here to engage your mind and emotions - love, death, infidelity, abortion, medical and legal ethics. But there is also demonstrated a firm belief in what is simply right and just. There's something very uplifting about this tale in the end, something very hard to describe. But, as was the case with Love Among the Ruins, this book is marked by some of the finest writing that fiction has to offer. I don't understand why Clark isn't famous, because he writes as well as first-tier writers like Updike, Malamud and Roth. Although the story takes place in a later time, Clark's book brings to mind Evan S. Connell's MR BRIDGE and MRS BRIDGE, or James Agee's A DEATH IN THE FAMILY. I believe Clark has another novel or two out there. I'll go looking for them. I recommend this novel highly. - Tim Bazzett, author of PINHEAD: A LOVE STORY
This is a beautiful book. I prefer action packed fiction with a minimum of extraneous detail, too many flowery words and I feel like I am in bumper to bumper traffic. But this book made me slow down. Mr Clark's words played as video across my mind, sitting me down in the very room he described to experience the action he portrayed. This really is a beautiful book.
I thought I was going to read a murder mystery when I read the description of the story but the writing was so good, it literally transported me into the novel. I could see and experience everything happening. I literally felt the despair some of the characters were experiencing. This isn't exciting reading but it is well written and would make a good movie.
Could be a good book if the author would have used some restraint. His use of like and as---like her hair was like a field of summer wheat, he must have used comparisons like this over 100 times, distracting from the plot and making the book much too long. The story itself has possibilities but was over written.
On the first page of this book, I thought I was in for one of those over-literary, pretentious novels in which the writer imagines he is a poet. Metaphors and similes flew like snowflakes. The world is a wound, he writes, and cold lies over it "coagulating its waters like blood under air." Soon the snow would "shroud it like a bandage." The moon was a "shard of mirror" in the sky. In a cornfield, withered stalks lay among the furrows like "battle dead." The train windows are "amber as oil." AND THAT'S JUST THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. God help me, I thought, facing 278 pages of this. But the author settles down and starts telling his story. Set in Minnesota in 1949, the novel introduces us to Richard MacEwen, a stolid, conventional lawyer, his wife Sarah, his daughter Anna and her boyfriend Charles. At the beginning of the book, Richard has come to North Dakota to retrieve the body of his younger brother James, killed in a hunting accident. Going through his dead brother's things, Richard discovers a letter suggesting that James may have been having an affair with his wife. Richard is a repressed man living in a repressed age and Clark paints the period detail with impressive authority. The men and women smoking all the time, the clubby atmosphere of upscale Midwestern society, the immensely complex undergarments women have to wear, the very first days of TV -- and the great stigma attached to an unwanted, premarital pregnancy, which is the fix Anna gets herself into. Anyone who is anti-abortion should read these painful pages. At the end, the author suggests, there's not much we leave behind in this world when our lives are over. So we should at least live them honestly while we are here. I recommend this book. It is humane and human and compassionate toward its characters, once the author gets over his excess of wordiness.
In the deep midwinter by Robert Clark Mystery audio book about bonds between people. 1949, st. paul. MIN loses his brother in a hunting accident Richard finds some secrets come out from the women of the family and he investigates his brothers letters to find out his own wife became involved with another. Also a niece has led astray also. Details of the abortion and afterward are a bit graphic. I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
Robert Clark can write. His prose are very good when leant to description of surroundings and motivations. However, just because characters are "well drawn" doesn't mean that reading about them is enjoyable. I found none of them sympathetic (except for the doctors); they make unlikely decisions; much of what they have to say is uninteresting to the reader; their sex scenes are embarrassing, though not gratuitous.
Nevertheless, "In the deep midwinter" is compelling because of the middle third of the book dealing with the consequences of Anna's unplanned pregnancy. I think Clark really gets this section right, setting out all the moral shades without being pedantic. This ought to be required reading in the U.S. right now as we contemplate a possible future without Roe versus Wade.