Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare
As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter’s occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.
It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression – such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie’s cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.
In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.
About the Author
Horatio Clare was born in London, but grew up on a hill farm in the Black Mountains of South Wales. He went to Malvern College and then read English at the University of York. From there he ended up at the BBC, on Front Row on Radio 4 and then Night Waves and The Verb on Radio 3. He has written numerous books including some for children, two memoirs, three travel books, a couple of natural history and travel combined, edited a book on Sicily and now this very personal book about Winter. His writing has appeared in all of the broadsheets and elsewhere. On top of all that he is Contributing Editor for Conde Nast Traveller and a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University.
5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
For me, each season has its highlights, the freshness and vitality of spring, the balmy days of summer, the quality of the autumn light and crisp days of winter. However, for others, not every season is loved equally and winter for some is the toughest season. Days are short, often gloomy cold and wet and it becomes a time when people feel at their lowest ebb. These pensive moments can lead to depression and long-term mental health issues.
Horatio Clare is one of those who suffers from this seasonal woe. This diary of his thoughts, feelings and fears written from mid-October, that time of the year as the nights draw into the 20th March, the spring equinox. In this diary, he is open and brutally honest about how the darkest part of the year affects him, how when he is teaching at John Moores University the words that would come naturally to him are scarce. Calder Valley, where he lives has a high suicide rate, attributed to a feeling that there is no way out and his very bleakest moments hurt his relationships with his loved ones.
Thin wisps of bird song come through bare woods and I am aware of gathering every sign of life and nature against a lowering threat.
But in amongst all the gloom of the season, he finds light and beauty around when he ventures outside. The skeletal starkness of trees, jewel-like frost sparkling in the sun, sunsets the colour of fire and that day went he spots the snowdrops have begun to open and realises that winter is actually on the wane. He is open about his anxieties that causes him to worry about so many things; money, the future, Brexit and his ability to teach; it causes him to frequently wake in the middle of the night mindlessly scrolling through a list of worries. Clare’s writing is taut, sparse and charged with emotion as he details the battles against his own personal demons of winter. This moving book should be essential reading for those that are suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and also for those that know someone who is afflicted.