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.
“A gripping psychological thriller that will appeal to readers of historical fiction; Nayman’s writing is as assured as ever”
— Library Journal *Starred Review*
“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
“Shira Nayman’s sentences have heft and spine and grace, and her vision is clear and generous.”
— Mary Gordon, author of Spending
“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
“The characters in this compelling novel continue to haunt me. Shira Nayman weaves their passions and betrayals in the wake of devastation into a beautiful and heartbreaking story about the impossibility of escaping the residue of war.”
— Julie Burstein, author of Spark: How Creativity Works
“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”
— Shelf Awareness
“Three people whose lives touched during WWII take turns narrating this haunting psychological thriller from Nayman”
— Publishers Weekly
“In the years following WWII, the horrors of that war reverberate in the lives of the intertwined characters in Nayman’s second novel, a story of guilt, mistaken identity, and love . . . Nayman’s saga delves deeply into how even those not directly affected are forever changed by war”
“The book is, foremost, about identity: mistaken, taken, lost, sought after, invented, constructed, and found . . . The writing in “A Mind of Winter” is ... poetic and lovely”
— The East Hampton Star