Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains. aA the war rages across the winter landscape, he finds himself falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine.
The beauty of Daniel Mason’s new novel, The Winter Soldier, persists even through scenes of unspeakable agony. That tension reflects the span of his talent. As a writer, Mason knows how to capture the grace of a moment ... he’s extraordinarily good at conjuring up journeys into unfamiliar places ... The story that unfolds in this forsaken place is so captivating that you may feel as unable to leave it as Lucius does ... The descriptions of maggots are a vision of hell you will never forget ... The redemption the story ultimately offers is equally unlikely and gorgeous, painfully limited but gratefully received in a world thrown into chaos.
With a physician’s precision and an artist’s eye, author Daniel Mason (The Piano Tuner) captures the emotional and physical upheaval wrought by war. Right from the start, his new novel, The Winter Soldier, thrums with tension, whisking the reader into the fray ... With striking prose and an unencumbered pace, The Winter Soldier makes for a uniquely compelling read.
So, this may be a war story, but not one that chronicles great battles thundering across the landscape. No, this is the tale of the people behind the lines—those who not only watch the atrocities of war unfold, but whose job it is to deal with them after they do. To say the least, then, this is not a book for the queasy or lighthearted. It’s more than just a gore fest, of course—much more—but as a student of medicine himself, Mason doesn’t flinch when it comes to detailing all the soldiers’ various afflictions, physical and mental. This immersive approach is at once frightening and fascinating, making you cringe as often as it piques your curiosity for the grotesque ... Margarete, the real star of The Winter Soldier ... is genuinely one of the most well-written characters I have ever encountered in my literary travels. Just when you think you have a bead on her, she’s always three steps ahead ... However, for as beautiful as Mason’s prose consistently is, describing everything from faces to trees in the most exquisite manner, it does clog up the story at certain points. His writing is very heavy and symbolic, which I can absolutely appreciate, but when a description of a scene gets in the way of what could have been a scene through-and-through, it doesn’t sit well with me ... Regardless ... This story of love, war and medicine can be called nothing less than a modern achievement in excellent character-building.