Published March 2021 by Unsolicited Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Publisher's Summary:34-year-old Angie Dugan struggles with many things-anxiety, her career as a social worker in a retirement home, and her difficult family. Her biggest struggle, though, is finding love. When she meets Matt, she’s swept away by his attention. As issues from his past come up she wonders if she can trust him. Should she break it off, or give him another chance? In the end, all she can do is listen to her heart, and evaluate what she wants most.
Does this summary strike you as a romance? It seemed like one to me, albeit a bit heavier than the usual fare. Lately it seems like more and more people are turning to romance as the perfect read in these difficult times we've been experiencing and I thought that maybe, for that same reason, it was time I started giving that genre a shot.
In looking into this book, I discovered that a winter night is not Parrish's first book about the Dugan family. An one earlier book deals with the early years of Angie and her siblings and what happens with their mother walks away from the family (to be fair, she does come back for the children); another deals with their mother after her second husband dies. It would have been interesting to pick this one up having had that background but it's not essential; Parrish fleshes out the family history to such a degree that it never occurred to me that I had missed something.
Another thing I learned is that Parrish is not only an novelist but also a poet and it certain shows, especially in her descriptions (it's obviously winter in this book and I often found myself forgetting that it was summer while I was reading, despite the fact that I was wearing shorts, sitting under a fan). There are some real gems here: "To receive unconditional love is a gift. To be able to accept it is another, rarer gift." How true is that?
Now, about the idea that this book falls into the roman genre - it doesn't. While Matt and Angie's relationship is certainly a key element of the book, this is absolutely a book about a 34-year-old woman growing and, finally, finding her place in life and relearning how to trust people. There are a lot of forces at play getting her to that point and it often felt, to me, like it was a bit too much. I think I wanted to either be getting that romance novel I was expecting or a story where the focus was more on Angie learning to accept the family and life she has. Between Matt and Angie, there is a lot of baggage to be unpacked her - both come from broken families; both families deal with addiction; there is infidelity, parent/child issues, care of the elderly, finding your purpose in life, living up to your potential.
It's a quick read, packed with plenty for a book club to discuss, and if you look at Goodreads reviews, and other reviews on this tour, you'll find this book is very well liked. But it's not a romance so don't go in thinking you're getting a love story.
For other reviews, check out the full book tour here. Thanks to the ladies of TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.
Parrish is the author of seven previously published books of fiction: What Nell Dreams, a novella and Stories (Unsolicited Press, 2020); Maggie’s Ruse, a novel (Unsolicited Press, 2019); The Amendment, a novel, (Unsolicited Press, 2018); Women Within, a novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017); By The Wayside, stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017); What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); and All The Roads That Lead From Home, stories, (Press 53, 2011). She is the author of over forty-five published short stories, and numerous essays on the art and craft of writing. Learn more by visiting her website at www.anneleighparrish.com.