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A Winter Marriage: A Novel Hardcover – December 3, 2002

3.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers of Hardie's first novel may conclude early on that it's probably best for anyone with lots of secrets not to move to a claustrophobically nosy village in Ireland. Too bad, then, that 52-year-old serial wife Hannie Bennet is so desperate to marry again that she flouts this sensible dictum. At a friend's wedding in England, widowed Hannie meets Ned Renvyle, a much older writer looking for a wife, and they agree to a pragmatic marriage he gets a companion, she gets to share his money. Settling on Ned's farm in the Irish countryside, Hannie soon discovers that enduring the snooping of the snobbish community may be too high a price to pay for financial security, particularly when her disturbed teenage son, Joss, arrives. His increasingly menacing behavior further underscores the differences between her and the villagers and eventually drives her to reveal a tragic secret from her past. An intelligent, subtle writer, Hardie paints a convincing picture of the compromises of domestic life. She explores questions of aging and mortality, idealism and cynicism, "nature versus nurture" and the responsibility that comes with marriage as she takes Hannie's story to its dark but hopeful climax. Sometimes Hardie overreaches, piling the philosophy on too thick and diluting the power of Hannie's revelation. Still, if readers are willing to indulge these meditations, Hardie's debut will leave them wondering what else this provocative writer has up her sleeve.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This first novel introduces Hannie Bennet, a widow and three-time divorcee visiting friends in England and looking for husband No. 4. When she meets Ned, a much older gentleman, they marry and return to his estate in Ireland. There, Hannie begins to doubt the choice she has made while waiting for her son, Joss, to arrive. As the story unfolds, we learn about Hannie's past and the dark secrets she keeps. While the story is suspenseful and the language often lyrical, readers will find it hard to get past their utter dislike for the characters. Hannie seems no more than an opportunist, her mood sour owing to her unhappiness at having misjudged Ned's worth. Joss is a selfish, twisted adolescent, and Ned is a pushover. Those looking for novels addressing relationships between younger women and older men would be better served by Joanna Trollop's The Men and the Girls or Anita Shreve's Fortune's Rocks.
Nanci Milone Hill, Lucius Beebe Memorial Lib., Wakefield, MA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st American ed edition (December 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316076228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316076227
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,806,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Fiftyish Hannie Bennet has been a wife four times. After the recent death of her latest, Hannie leaves her teenage son Joss in Africa so that she can go prospecting unhindered for numero five. Ironically at a wedding, she meets elderly international reporter Ned Renvyle. He offers her a marriage of convenience in which she would be his companion on his remote Irish farm near Youghal and she and her son would no longer have to worry about finances. They marry and move to his home and her son joins them.
Hannie hates the isolation and acts withdrawn with her husband and the villagers. Quickly, everyone detests her scorn and hatred begins to take shape towards the outsider refusing to fit in. Worse, as Josh behaves destructively, Hannie deceives her spouse and the townsfolk trying to hide a secret that could destroy everything she strives to achieve even when threatened by blackmail and violence.
A WINTER MARRIAGE is a tremendous contemporary relationship drama with deep moral roots that will surprise the audience not looking for subtle, multiple meaning allusions such as the title with several interpretations. Hannie is a wonderful protagonist whose morality seems lowly, but keep digging to see more to her soul. Ned and Joss enable the audience to observe their personal problems as well as providing an electron microscope level of depth into the heart of Hannie. Yet with all that emphasis on character, the story line never slows down until the final truths are bared. Kerry Hardie provides a strong novel that entertains the audience yet the basic themes never waver.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
I had high hopes for this book, and was initially entranced by both the characters and the atmosphere, especially the evocation of a dark and damp landscape and the claustrophobia it induces in those unaccustomed to it. I live in such a landscape myself now after many years in a sunnier clime, and thought this part of the novel most effective. But occasionally the author overreaches in her descriptions, and suddenly one is very much aware that this is a NOVEL, in exactly the same way that a bad line reading will suddenly remind you it's only a movie. Nonetheless I persevered, even staying up until 2 a.m. to finish. And that was the real disappointment: the ending is both formulaic and ambiguous, as if a sustained arc ended in a small thud. Now, days later, I wonder why I allowed these disagreeable characters to enter my life!
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Format: Paperback
Hannie is not your typical heroine. She is selfish. She is only interested in two things ~~ her self-interests and her son, Joss. Sounds like a bad novel, right? Wrong. Hardie creates a complex character and a beautifully-written novel ~~ that keeps you reading from the first page to the last. It is not a fast page-turner suspense where you have to stay up all night and read till the last page is finished ~~ but it is an intense novel that keeps you guessing and thinking. Her scenery descriptions of the Irish landscape is vivid and poignant. You detect a poetress in the author when you read about the long winter twilight across the snow-covered lands. This is a beautiful book with a disturbing story.
Hannie comes to Ireland with her fifth husband, Ned, from Africa, a country that she has lived in for years. With a mystery surrounding Hannie and her son, they come to a northern country not knowing what to expect. Hannie has made it clear from the beginning that marriage is not for love. Because of that statement, this novel is written with a curiously heavy sense of sexual tension lying underneath, like a snake coiled in the sun waiting for darkness to descend. Slowly, each of the characters in this novel ~~ Hannie, Joss, Ned, Niamh, Mrs. Coady, and Ned's friends and relatives ~~ come to life and one begins to read about different character flaws or strengths. And the reader is hooked ~~ sometimes unwillingly ~~ into their stories.
If you are looking for a book that doesn't make you uncomfortable or make you think ~~ this book isn't it. Hardie writes very beautifully to keep your interest but the tension between the characters sometimes may be a bit much to take in long doses.
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Format: Hardcover
Fifty-two-year-old Hannie seems to be just who she is. She seems to paint a clear picture with her actions and her words.
Hannie is daring, bold, blunt and sometimes a bit crude, but seems to be true to herself. She has made a career of marrying for money and security for both herself and her fourteen-year-old son, Joss.
She now finds herself, again, in need of a husband and attends a wedding in hopes of finding one. Ned appears on the scene, not as obvious, but also in need of a marriage partner.
Hannie and Ned marry and he takes her to his farm in Ireland where they discover the hidden truths about each other. Their lives are brought forth in shades of gray as well as that of friends and family.
Hannie keeps Joss a mystery, wanting him to be loved and cared for, but not sure how to keep him safe from the world, or even keep the world safe from him. The mystery weaves itself throughout the story and it is not until the very end that your curiosity is satisfied.
All the while there is the background of other interesting characters in their lives, such as Danno the taxidermist, who befriends Hannie and allows her to bring her burdens to him. There is Alison, who Hannie doesn't particularly like, but finds herself confiding in her. And Niamh, the struggling artist that lives in Ned's cottage and leaves a profound mark on all.
Kerry Hardie has written a book that encompasses a woman coming into her older years with an understanding and a clarity that is unashamed. Her descriptions of Ireland fill all your senses and carry the story as it moves through their lives.
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