A Mind of Winter
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, moral 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 house guests, 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, is 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 cities 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 socio-historical circumstances inevitably bite into and shape personal identity and destiny.