- Paperback: 332 pages
- Published: 5/15/12
- IBSN: 9781617751035
- e-IBSN: 9781617751165
- Genre: Fiction
A literary psychological thriller set in 1951, reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.
“A gripping psychological thriller that will appeal to readers of historical fiction; Nayman’s writing is as assured as ever.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“The unusual love story of Shira Nayman’s A Mind of Winter shows us a sophisticated view of romantic love’s inherent smallness in the shadow of war. Featuring unforgettable characters in varying states of decline and debasement . . . Nayman’s pacing is tantalizingly opaque . . . A vivid, sophisticated romance unfolding—in a complicated narrative structure—after the wreckage of the Second World War.”
“Nayman’s saga delves deeply into how even this not directly affected are forever changed by war.”
“Whether it’s the dangerous back alleys of Shanghai at night, or otherworldly party scenes on Long Island, the settings crafted by Nayman really shine.”
“Beautifully expressed descriptions convey the author’s skill with language and heighten the reader’s curiosity to know the truth.”
—Jewish Book Council
“This dense psychological thriller takes us from pre-war Germany to a London crumbling under the blitz, from the opium-swirled streets of Shanghai to post-war Long Island . . . The prose is gorgeous, the twists compelling, the secrets dripped in neatly. This is a novel to be digested.”
—Historical Novels Review
“A Mind of Winter takes a hard look at the way people live. It takes the reader on a journey into the abyss of human experience, but it concludes with hope and the possibility of redemption. By encouraging individuals to be honest with them about their motivations, A Mind of Winter presents a unique and important moral lesson.”
“With insight and a dazzling imagination, Shira Nayman transports us into a web of post-World War II lives, from Shanghai, to London, to Long Island. As in her previous works, Nayman’s characters show us the long shadow that war casts on memory, identity, and love.”
—Nancy Sherman, author of The Untold War
“A marvelous book that sweeps across decades and around the world to reveal dark secrets locked tight within the human heart.”
—Jed Horne, author of Desire Street and Breach of Faith
“Shira Nayman’s sentences have heft and spine and grace, and her vision is clear and generous.”
—Mary Gordon, author of Spending
“Shira Nayman writes with wisdom and courage.”
—Ursula Hegi, author of Sacred Time
“The madness of war, even after war is over, envelops everyone in this well-paced psychological thriller.”
—New York Times, on The Listener
“A haunting excursion into the past. Each story is a literary page-turner with a classic O. Henry twist.”
—Atlantic Monthly, on Awake in the Dark
Oscar is a mysterious Englishman who presides over Ellis Park, a sprawling mansion in East Hampton, Long Island. It is 1951; as the jazz bands play and the ever-present houseguests waft into the ballroom, the war seems much farther away than a mere six years. However, Oscar is tormented by his own questionable wartime dealings—and embroiled in a drama involving late-night meetings with an official, with whom he speaks German. He is also haunted by memories of Christine, his great love who, after the war, sailed to Shanghai; he has no idea of the murky, moral depths into which she has fallen.
One of Oscar’s frequent houseguests, Marilyn, a photographer who spent the war years in England, has moved in to Ellis Park for the summer and is working on a book of her wartime photography. Marilyn reminds Oscar of Christine; he finds refuge late at night sitting beside her in the pristine photographic studio he built in a basement area, deep beneath the sumptuous, brightly lit rooms above. Oscar suspects that Marilyn, married to Simon, has embarked on an affair with the adventurous Barnaby, a swashbuckling character whose far-flung wanderings included a long stint in Shanghai, where Barnaby himself had been involved with Christine.
The narrative unfolds through the three different points of view of Oscar, Christine, and Marilyn, in locations on three continents—East Hampton, Shanghai, and London. A Mind of Winter is a complex, page-turning, literary psychological thriller, which takes up a rich array of themes: the ways in which we choose our beliefs and build our lives around them; the self-deceptive shadings that undulate within; the moral ambiguities of being an artist; and the ways in which sociohistorical circumstances inevitably bite into and shape personal identity and destiny.
SHIRA NAYMAN is a clinical psychologist who works as a strategic brand marketer and has taught psychology, literature, narrative medicine, and creative writing at Columbia University, Rutgers University, and Barnard College. She has published fiction and nonfiction in the Atlantic Monthly, the Georgia Review, New England Review, Confrontation, Boulevard, Cousin Corinne, and her short fiction has also been broadcast on NPR. She is the author of Awake in the Dark (novella and stories), The Listener (a novel), and A Mind of Winter. She is the recipient of grants from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Australia Council for the Arts Literature Board (three times), and received the Cape Branch Award for an Emerging Woman Writer.