Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Review: A Winter Night by Anne Leigh Parrish

I have been reading Anne Leigh Parrish's works for a long time, both her short stories and her novels. So I know what an accomplished writer she is and the way that she creates complex and intriguing characters. In this latest novel, A Winter Night, she is once again writing about one of the Dugans, a family she created many years ago and for whom she clearly has a big soft spot and an endless fascination. And although main character Angie Dugan has appeared on the page before, new readers need not fear; it is more than possible to read this novel as its own separate work.

Angie Dugan is 34. She works at Lindell retirement home and is vaguely dissatisfied with the job she once loved. She's in a new relationship but isn't entirely certain she wants to trust boyfriend Matt as much as a relationship needs in order to thrive. She's close to some of her siblings but not others and she worries terribly about her father as he relapses and starts drinking again. Angie doesn't have much faith in herself and that spills over into her personal relationships despite the fact that at heart, she is a caretaker.

This is very much a character study, the story of a woman who wants to learn to trust despite her struggles to do so. The narration is third person but firmly focused solely on Angie, her insecurities, anxieties, and fears, her brusque bluntness, and her hopes for the future. Angie can self-sabotage with the best of them and she seems unable to decide whether the red flags she sees in her relationship are legitimate or if they are her own creation. She is very different at work, sure, intuitive, and thoughtful, if burned out. Readers who are looking for action driving the plot will not find that here. It is much more a ruminative, interior sort of novel with Angie working out how she feels and how she wants to feel about her relationship with Matt, with her father, with her family, and about her job. She continues to be pulled into her family but keeps a cautious distance with everyone else around her. Is this what she wants though, or is she ready to risk herself? Even the oral history project plot thread, recording the memories of the elderly at Lindell, highlights relationship and love and the complexity of family, with one woman confessing to a decades old crime and another telling how she protected both her husband and her son in keeping the son's sexuality from his father. Parrish subtly highlights this theme over and over in Angie's story even as she slowly and carefully unwraps the layers of the past that surround both Angie and Matt. This is a quietly done, rewarding book and those who like to sit and savour their reads will find much to appreciate and enjoy.

If you enjoyed this book, be sure to read Parrish's short story collection By the Wayside, her interconnected story collection where the Dugan clan makes their first appearance, Our Love Could Light the World, and the story of Angie's mother Lavinia's unexpected widowhood in The Amendment.

For more information about Anne Leigh Parrish and the book, check our her author site, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and publisher Unsolicited Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I love a good character driven story, thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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