Edited by Melissa Harrison
So some key points bear repeating: I praised Harrison’s imaginative commissioning of new works and choice of previously published pieces to accompany them; and I applauded the gender balance in the choice of authors. And the “high number of specially-written pieces including from several newish and/or youngish writers” happily applies to Winter, as it has the whole series.
Unlike spring, except perhaps in the Highlands, winter rarely arrives with any fanfare. Most symbols of winter are really signs of autumn – fieldfares and geese from the north, frost-sugared (to cite Deakin) rose-hips. Opening Spring, I feared – without foundation as it turned out – that the season might prove too burdened with in-built clichés to sustain interest. With Winter, Melissa and her contributors have again swerved wide of the obvious. Snow takes its proper place, as a merely occasional feature of the season, many authors choosing to tackle fog instead. Christmas is a brief presence, as Christmas should be, and the myth of dormancy is largely replaced by celebrations of life showing through the cold.
Credit must go to the Wildlife Trusts, on whose behalf the series is published. It would have been easy, lazy and commercially safe to produce yet another set of romantic, idyllic and ubiquitous favourites, but these books are for life, not just for Christmas.
Winter, edited by Melissa Harrison, published by Elliott & Thompson 20th October 2016.