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The Winter Soldier
By Daniel Mason
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Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains.
But Lucius has never lifted a surgeon's scalpel. And as 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. Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the lives of doctor, patient, and nurse forever.
From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.
"The Winter Soldier brims with improbable narrative pleasures…These pages crackle with excitement… A spectacular success." —Anthony Marra, New York Times Book Review
Certain affections have an unfortunate destiny.
—André Léri, 1918, Commotions et émotions de guerre
They were five hours east of Debrecen when the train came to a halt before the station on the empty plain.
There was no announcement, not even a whistle. Were it not for the snow-draped placard, he wouldn’t have known they had arrived. Hastening, afraid he would miss the stop, he gathered his bag, his coat, his saber, pushing his way out through the men who filled the corridor of the train. He was the only passenger to descend. Farther down the line, porters unloaded a pair of crates onto the snow before jumping back on board, slapping warmth into their hands. Then the carriages began to move, chains clanking, stirring his greatcoat and swirling snow around his knees.
He found the hussar in the station house, with the horses brought in from the cold. Their ears flicked against the low ceiling, their long faces overhanging a bench where three peasant women sat, hands clasped over their swaddled bellies like fat men content after a meal. Feet dangling just above the floor. Woman, horse, woman, horse, woman. The hussar stood without speaking. Back in Vienna, Lucius had seen regiments on parade with their plumes and colored sashes, but this man was dressed in a thick grey coat, with a cap of worn, patched fur. He motioned Lucius forward and handed him the reins of one of the horses before he led the other outside, its tail whisking across the women as it passed beneath the Habsburg double-headed eagle on the door.
Lucius tugged on the reins, but his horse resisted. He stroked her neck with the back of one hand—the broken one—while he pulled with the other. “Come,” he whispered, first in German, then in Polish, as her back hooves broke from the ice and frozen dung. To the hussar at the door, he said, “You’ve been waiting long.”
It was the last thing he said. Outside, the hussar lowered a leather mask, cut with slits for eyes and nostrils, and heaved himself onto his horse. Lucius followed, rucksack on his shoulders, struggling to wrap his scarf over his face. From inside the station house, the three old women watched them until the hussar wheeled his horse around and kicked the door shut. Your sons aren’t coming, Lucius wanted to tell them. Not in any state you’d wish to see. There was scarcely a man with two legs who wasn’t trying to lift the Russian siege of Przemyśl now.
Without a word the hussar began to ride north at a trot, his long rifle across his saddle, his saber on his waist. Lucius looked back to the railway, but the train had vanished. Snowflakes had begun to cover the track.
He followed. His horse’s hooves clattered on the frozen earth. The sky was grey, and in the distance, he could see the mountains rising up into the storm. Somewhere, there, was Lemnowice, and the regimental hospital of the Third Army where he was to serve.
* * *
He was twenty-two years old, restless, resentful of hierarchy, impatient for his training to come to an end. For three years he had studied alone in the libraries, devoted to medicine with a monastic severity. Onion paper feathered the margins of his textbooks, licked and pasted in by hand. In the great halls, on gleaming lantern slides, he’d seen the ravages of typhus, scarlatina, lupus, pest. He had memorized the signs of cocainism and hysteria, knew that the breath of cyanide poisoning smelled of almonds, and the murmur of a narrowed aortic valve could be heard in the neck. In tie and jacket, freshly ironed for the day, he’d spent hours staring down from the dizzying heights of the surgery theater, straining his neck for a line-of-sight through the restless coveys of his classmates, over the neatly combed heads of senior students, over the junior professors, the surgeon’s assistants, across the surgical drape, and down into the cut. By the time war was declared, he was dreaming nightly of the theater: long, demanding dreams in which he extracted impossible organs, half-man, half-pig. (It was on butcher’s scraps he practiced.) One night, dreaming of an extraction of the gallbladder, he had such a distinct impression of the wet, leaden warmth of the liver, that he woke certain he could carry out the surgery alone.
If his devotion was total, its origin remained a mystery. As a child, he had gazed with wonder at the wax cadavers at the Anatomical Museum, but so had his three brothers, and not one of them had turned to Hippocrates’s art. There were no doctors in his line, not among the Krzelewskis of southern Poland, and certainly not among his mother’s people. At times, cornered by some peahen at one of her unbearable receptions, he endured a condescending speech on how medicine was a noble calling, that one day he would be rewarded for his kindness. But kindness was not interesting to him. His best answer to what drove his endless hours of study was the joy of study itself. He was not a person drawn to religious devotion, but it was in religion that he found the words: revelation, epiphany, the miracle of God’s creations, and by extension, the miracle of how God’s creations failed.
Study itself: this was, at least, the answer that he gave in his moments of greatest exultation. But there was another reason he had turned to medicine, one he only considered later in the hours of his doubt. Of the two other students he could call his friends, Feuermann was the son of a tailor, while Kaminski, who wore empty spectacles just to look older, was on a scholarship from the Sisters of Mercy. Although they never spoke of it, Lucius knew they all had come to medicine for its promise of social mobility. For Feuermann and Kaminski this meant up: from the slums of Leopoldstadt and the charity school. For Lucius, whose father came from an ancient Polish family that claimed descent from Japheth, son of Noah (yes, that Noah), and in whose mother’s veins coursed the same cerulean blood as that Great Liberator of Vienna and Savior of Western Civilization, Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia, Smolensk, Kiev, Volhynia, etc., etc.—for Lucius, such mobility meant not up, but out.
No, from the beginning he hadn’t belonged among them, an accidental sixth child born years after the doctor told his mother she couldn’t conceive again. Were he not the spitting image of his father—tall and big-pawed, with skin pale as alabaster, a shock of blond hair fit for an Icelander, and old man’s ducktail eyebrows even as a little boy—he might have wondered if he was another’s child. But the flushes of ruddiness that gave his father the hale glow of a knight who has just removed his jouster’s helmet, in Lucius looked more like blotches of an embarrassed blush. Watching his brothers and sisters glide through his mother’s receptions, he could never understand their ease, their grace, their force. No matter what he tried—holding a stone in his pocket as a reminder to smile, writing lists of “Chatting Topics”—spontaneity eluded him. Before the parties, he would slink through the salon, attaching to each piece of artwork an idea for conversation: when he saw the portrait of Sobieski he was to speak of holidays; the bust of Chopin should spur him to ask about his guest. Yet, no matter how he prepared, it happened: there would be a moment, a pause—just a second—just a catch—before he—spoke. He could move easily through the shifting choreography of soft gowns and pressed field marshal trousers. But the moment that he approached a cluster of other children, their laughter stopped.
He wondered if he had grown up in another time or place—among a different, silent people—his discomfort would never have been noticed. But in Vienna, among the eloquent, where frivolity had been cultivated into a faith, he knew that others saw him falter. Lucius: the name, chosen by his father after the legendary kings of Rome, itself was mockery; he was anything but light. By his thirteenth birthday, so terrified by his mother’s disapproval, so increasingly uncertain of anything to say at all, his unease began to appear in a quiver of his lip, a nervous twisting of his fingers, and at last, a stutter.
In the beginning, he had been accused of feigning. Stutters appear in childhood, his mother told him, not in a boy his age. He didn’t stutter when he was alone, nor when he spoke of his science magazines or the bird’s nest outside his window. Nor did it afflict him at the aquarium in the Imperial Zoological Collections, where he went to stare for hours at the Grottenolm, blind, translucent salamanders from the Southern Empire, in whom one could watch the magical pulsing of their blood.
But at last, conceding that something might be wrong, she hired a speech expert from Munich, famous for his Textbook of the Disorders of Speech and Language and a metal device called the Zungenapparat, which isolated the labial, palatal, and glottal movements from one another and so promised the repair of sound and speech.
The doctor arrived on a warm summer’s morning, gnawing a hangnail. Humming, he appraised the child, palpating his neck and peering into his ears. There were measurements, sour fingers probed his gums; his mother grew bored and left. At last, the apparatus was applied, and the boy was told to sing “The Happy Hiker.”
He tried. The clamp pinched his lips. The tongue prongs cut, and he spat blood. “Louder!” cried the doctor. “It is working!” His mother returned to find her son baying like a dog, mouth foaming red. Lucius looked between them—Mother—Doctor—Mother—Doctor—as his mother seemed to grow bigger and pinker and the doctor smaller and paler. Oh, you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into, thought the boy, watching the man. And he began to giggle—not an easy task with a Zungenapparat—as the doctor gathered up his tools and fled.
A second doctor tried to hypnotize him, failed, and prescribed herring for oral lubrication. A third, cupping his testicles, declared them sufficient, but finding no movement when the boy was shown the fleshy gymnastics in an illustrated edition of True Secrets of the Convent, he removed his notebook and scrawled “Insufficiency of the Gland.” Then he whispered to Lucius’s mother.
A week later, she had his father take him to a house specializing in virgins, certificated free of syphilis, where he was locked in the plush Ludwig II suite with a country girl from Croatia attired like a singer of the opera buffa. As she was from the south, Lucius asked her if she had heard of the Grottenolm. Yes, she said, her frightened face brightening. Her father had once collected the little salamanders to sell to aquaria across the Empire. Then the two of them marveled at this coincidence of their lives, for, just that week, one of Lucius’s favorites in the Zoological Collection had spawned.
Afterward, when his father asked, “And did you do it?” Lucius answered, “Yes, Father.” And his father, “I don’t believe you. What did you do?” And Lucius, “I did what was to be done.” And his father, “Which is what?” And Lucius, “What I have learned.” And his father, “What have you learned, boy?” And Lucius, remembering a novel of his sister’s, answered, “I have done it in a fiery way.”
“That’s my son,” his father said.
In silence, he endured his parents’ receptions until they allowed him to escape. He would have skipped them altogether, but his mother said the guests would think she was like Walentyna Rozorovska, who hid her crippled daughter in a crate. So Lucius followed as she made her rounds. She was distinctly proud of her narrow waist, and he thought she sometimes kept him near because nothing pleased her more than to have another woman say: “Agnieszka, after six children—so sportive! How can it be?”
Whalebone! Lucius wished to shout. The conversation horrified him. He thought such comments about his birth were vulgar, as if they were complimenting her on her genitalia. He was relieved when she spoke instead of music and architecture, and showed particular interest in the industrialists’ wives and where their husbands had been traveling, and it was only when he was older that he realized how strategic, and ultimately ruthless, such questioning had been.
The King is always hunting, and the Queen is always pregnant, ran the joke about his family, paraphrasing Goethe. But he thought, In many ways, this Queen is both. His sweet-toothed father, a major in the lancers, had been shot in the hip by the Italians at the Battle of Custoza, and had intended to spend the rest of his life happily lounging about his garrison in Kraków, drinking slivovitz and perfecting hand shadows to scare his children. For the first decade of his marriage, fearing disruption to his idyll, the war hero tried to hide the sleepy family mines from Lucius’s mother. Iron? There? Nothing but bat droppings. Copper? Oh, my dear, that’s just a silly rumor. What, they told you there was zinc?
He had known his wife too well. No sooner did she have her hands on the balance sheets than a great rumbling was heard over southern Poland. Within three years, the Krzelewski mines had gone from providing buttons for the army’s tunics and brass for its trumpets to steel and iron for the new railway to Zakopane. Soon she had moved them to Vienna so as to better grip the heart of Empire. It was only fitting, she liked to say. Vienna owed her family, ever since Sobieski liberated Austria from the Turks.
This of course was mentioned only in private. In public, she had no hesitation acquiring the necessary imperial trappings. Commemorative ceramics from Franz Josef’s jubilees soon graced their mantelpieces. She had Klimt paint her portrait, first with Lucius at her side, and then, because she was enthralled by the patterns of gold on the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, she had Lucius painted over. Their dynasty of Irish wolfhounds—Puszek I (1873–81), Puszek II (1880–87), Puszek III (1886–96), Puszek IV (1895–1902), etc.—all descended from none other than Empress Sisi’s beloved Shadow.
Each of her children, save the eldest, had been born in Vienna. Władysław, Kazimierz, and Bolesław, Sylwia and Regelinda: names like a procession of Polish saints. By his second decade, they had all moved on. Later Lucius would learn that there were divisions among them, deep divisions, but for most of his childhood, their unity seemed impenetrable. The men drank and the women played piano very well. The men, disappearing with his father on predawn hunts from their estates in Poland and Hungary, drank a lot.
He was not surprised, therefore, that when he had first announced his intention to study medicine, his mother told him it was a field for arrivistes.
He responded that many sons of nobility became doctors. But he knew the answer before it was uttered from her thin, drawn lips.
“Yes. But our kind of doctor is not the kind of doctor you will be.”
She relented in the end. Better than anyone, she knew his limitations. Alone in the beginning, unwelcome in the German medical student associations, he had found Feuermann and Kaminski similarly excluded, trying to hide their discomfort as the other students laughed among themselves.
From the first day, Lucius had thrown himself into his studies. As opposed to his two companions, who had studied at the trade-oriented Realschule, and so had already completed much of the basic sciences, Lucius’s education at the hands of his governesses had consisted mostly of Greek and Latin. To his gang he said that his zoological and botanical studies had stopped at Pliny. When they laughed with him, he was amazed, as he hadn’t meant it as a joke. After that, he pretended he had never heard of Darwin, and liked to say, “This whole gravity business is quite a craze.” But he didn’t mind the remedial courses; there was magic in the choral recitations of Linnaean classification, in the luminous Crookes tubes brought out for physics demonstrations, the lesser alchemy that bubbled in the lines of Erlenmeyer flasks.
If he loved Medicine—yes, this was the word, this giddiness, this jealous guarding against fellow suitors, this pursuit of increasingly delicate secrets to be indulged—if he loved Medicine, what he had not expected was for Her to return his affections. In the beginning, he noticed only this: when he spoke of Her, his stutter vanished. There were no exams until the end of his second year, and so it was only one cold day in December, during his third semester, that there came the first hint that he possessed, in the words of that year’s assessment, “an unusual aptitude for the perception of things that lie beneath the skin.”
The lecturer that day, Grieperkandl, the great anatomist, was of that species of emeriti who believed that most modern medical innovations (such as handwashing) were emasculating. It was in a state of general terror that the students attended his classes, for each week Grieperkandl would call a Praktikant before him, take down his name in a little notebook (always a his; there were but seven women in the class, and Grieperkandl treated them all as nurses), and proceed to submit him to an inquisition of such clinically irreverent arcana that most of their professors would have failed.
It was during a lecture of the anatomy of the hand that Lucius was called to the front of the class. Grieperkandl asked if he had studied for that day—he had—and whether he knew the name of the bones—he did—and whether he would like to recite them. The old professor was standing so close that Lucius could smell the naphthalene on his coat. Grieperkandl rattled his pocket. Inside he had some bones. Would Lucius like to select one and name it? Lucius hesitated; there was nervous laughter in the tiers. Then cautiously, he slid his hand in, his fingers settling on the longest and thinnest of the bones. As he went to remove it, the professor grabbed his wrist. “Any fool can look,” he said. And Lucius, closing his eyes, said scaphoid, and withdrew it, and Grieperkandl said, “Another,” and Lucius said capitate and withdrew it, and Grieperkandl said, “Those are the two largest—that is easy,” and Lucius said lunate, and Grieperkandl, “Another,” and Lucius said hamate, triquetrum, metacarpal, removing each in turn until at last a tiny bone remained, peculiar, too stubby to be a distal phalange, even that of the thumb.
“Toe,” said Lucius, realizing he had sweated through his shirt. “It’s the pinkie toe.”
A hush had come over the class.
And Grieperkandl, unable to prevent a yellow smile from spreading across his face (for, he would say later, he had been waiting twenty-seven years to make the joke), said, “Very good, my son. But whose?”
An unusual aptitude for the perception of things that lie beneath the skin. He copied out these words into his journal, in Polish, German, and Latin, as if he’d found his epitaph. It was a bracing thought for a boy who had grown up mystified by the simplest manners of other people. What if his mother’s pronouncements were false? What if all along he had been simply seeing deeper? When the first Rigorosum came after two years, he scored the highest in the class on all his subjects but physics, where Feuermann edged him out. It seemed impossible. With his governess, he had nearly given up on Greek, cared nothing for the causes of the War of the Austrian Succession, confused Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm with Kaiser Wilhelm and Kaiser Friedrich, and thought philosophy stirred up problems where there were no problems before.
He entered his fifth semester with great anticipation. He had enrolled in Pathology, Bacteriology, and Clinical Diagnosis, and the summer would bring the first lectures in Surgery. But his hopes to leave his books and treat a real, living patient were premature. Instead, in the same vast halls where he had once attended lectures on organic chemistry, he watched his professors from the same great distance. If a patient was brought before them—and even this was rare in the introductory classes—Lucius could scarcely see them, let alone learn how to percuss the liver or palpate swollen nodes.
Sometimes he was called forth as Praktikant. In Neurology, he stood next to the day’s patient, a seventy-two-year-old locksmith from the Italian Tyrol, with such severe aphasia that he could only mutter “Da.” His daughter translated the doctor’s questions into Italian. As the man tried to answer, his mouth opened and closed like a baby bird. “Da. Da!” he said, face red with frustration, as murmurs of fascination and approval filled the hall. Driven on by the lecturer’s aggressive questioning, Lucius diagnosed a tumor of the temporal lobe, trying to keep his thoughts on the science and away from how miserable he was making the old man’s daughter. She had begun to cry, and she kept reaching for her father’s hand. “You will stop that!” his professor shouted at her, slapping her fingers. “You will disturb the learning!” Lucius’s face was burning. He hated the doctor for asking such questions before the daughter, and he hated himself for answering. But he also did not like feeling that he was on the side of the patient, who was inarticulate and weak. So he answered forcefully, with no compassion. His diagnosis of early brainstem herniation and the relentless destruction of the breathing centers and death, was met by rising, even thunderous, applause.
Following his performance, some of the other students approached him and asked him to join their groups. But he had no time for their inadequacies. He couldn’t understand the laziness of those who hired artists to help them remember the anatomy of their cadavers. He was ready to move on, to touch his patients, to cut them open and take out their disease. Even the clinics frustrated him—crowds of eighty would follow their renowned instructor, and merely ten or twenty of them would be allowed to probe a hernia or examine a tumor in a breast. Once, and only once, he was left alone with a patient, a wispy-haired Dalmatian from whose ear canals he extracted enough wax to make a small but working votive candle. The man, who had been diagnosed as deaf for fifteen years, stared at Lucius as if Christ himself had just returned. But the praise, the blessings, the lachrymose kissing of Lucius’s hand embarrassed him. This was what he had trained for? Mining? That his esteemed professor had attributed the deafness to dementia only left him more depressed.
He returned to his books.
By then, only Feuermann could keep up with him. Soon they left the others and studied alone, pushing each other to ever finer diagnostic feats. They memorized poisoning syndromes, the manifestations of obscure tropical parasites, and mischievously applied defunct physical classification systems (phrenology, humoralism) to the other members of their class. When Feuermann said that he could diagnose a dozen conditions by watching a patient’s gait, Lucius countered that he could do so by listening to the gait, and so the two sought out an empty corridor, and Lucius turned to face the wall. Feuermann walked back and forth behind him. Slap went his feet, and slap slap and slide-thump and slide-slide and plop plop. The answers were: sensory ataxia, spastic hemiplegia, Parkinson’s, and fallen arches.
“And this?” asked Feuermann, and his feet went pitter-pitter plop.
But that was easy.
“Dancing, wretched type, chronic, most likely terminal.”
“I have been defeated!” roared Feuermann, as Lucius, utterly pleased with himself, began to tap as well.
He felt at times that Feuermann was the only person who could understand him, and around Feuermann alone, he felt at ease. It was his friend, handsome, already with a bit of a reputation for flirtation among the lay nurses, who persuaded him to go to the brothel on Alserstrasse by arguing that it had once been frequented by the legendary doctors Billroth and Rokitansky; Feuermann, who taught him, with reference to Structure and Function of the Genitalia of the Female (Leipzig, 1824), the principle of titillatio clitoridis. And yet never in the past two years had they spoken of anything that wasn’t at least partially related to medicine. Not once had Feuermann accepted an invitation to Lucius’s palatial home on Cranachgasse. And Lucius never asked what had happened to Feuermann’s parents that led them to flee their village near the Russian border when his friend was still a baby, or why he had no mother. He knew only that his father was a tailor, outfitting his son with suits assembled impeccably from scrap.
Billroth, said Feuermann, would dine on gherkins after coitus; Rokitansky never took his lab coat off. Titillatio had once been prescribed by the great van Swieten to treat the frigidity of Empress Maria Theresa; it was what saved the Empire. Once, from nowhere, Feuermann said, “Perhaps one day we might marry sisters.” Lucius said he thought this was a fine idea and asked if he had read Klamm’s paper on bromides for palpitations of unknown cause.
- "The beauty of The Winter Soldier persists even through scenes of unspeakable agony. That tension reflects the span of Daniel Mason's talent. As a writer, he knows how to capture the grace of a moment; as a doctor, he knows how wrong things can go...The Winter Soldier draws us into the deadly undertow of history that swept away so many in the early twentieth century. The redemption the story ultimately offers is equally unlikely and gorgeous, painfully limited but gratefully received in a world thrown into chaos."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
- "Not only does Mason make every crumb of pertinent history, culture, and geography so real throughout this saga that a reader feels instantly teleported into all of it but The Winter Soldier delivers, in shocking detail, a relentless inventory of the era's medical knowledge and practices...The novel's pacing clips along tightly; its closure, when at last it comes, proves deeply, memorably moving...One is reminded of a dozen greats: Doctor Zhivago, The English Patient, For Whom the Bell Tolls."—Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle
- "Extraordinary."—Isabel Allende, The Guardian
- "The Winter Soldier held me by the throat from the first lyrical page to the last. A story which manages to be as original as it is timeless, and above all, credible."—Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room
- "Timeless...The Winter Soldier brims with improbable narrative pleasures...Within the meticulously researched and magnificently realized backdrop of European dissolution, Mason finds his few lost souls, and shepherds them toward an elusive peace. Lucius's 'dream of being able to see another person's thinking' is not only the controlling metaphor of The Winter Soldier but the work of literature more broadly."—Anthony Marra, New York Times
- "Captivating...Early passages describing the hospital, its various characters, and the education that Lucius receives there--both medical and romantic--are among the many marvels of The Winter Soldier...It does what all the best novels do: creates a world in which readers pleasurably lose themselves."—Tom Beer, Newsday
- "This is a great war novel, plunging you into the chaos of conflict and the unexpected consequences of a love that begins amid that chaos."—Lynn Neary, NPR (Best Books of 2018)
- "Can it be that this novel is too interesting? Too well constructed? Too filled with humanity, depth, arcane facts, and matters of life and death? Is it just too perfect a book? Everyone I have pushed to read this book says yes. Please judge for yourself if this isn't one of the most satisfying novels you have ever encountered."—Louise Erdrich, author of Future Home of the Living God and the National Book Critics Circle Award winner LaRose
- "A uniquely compelling read...With a physician's precision and an artist's eye, author Daniel Mason captures the emotional and physical upheaval wrought by war. Right from the start, the novel thrums with tension, whisking the reader into the fray."—Melissa Brown, Bookpage
- "I have been a Daniel Mason fan since The Piano Tuner. His abilities as a storyteller and a writer of the most gorgeous prose leave you wanting more. The Winter Soldier is a tour de force."—Abraham Verghese, bestselling author of Cutting for Stone
- "Most remarkable about Mason's fiction is the quality of his revelations, his ability to unveil temperaments, habits, natures...Margarete is the heart of the book, a gloriously real creation...What unfolds is a kind of parable of what it means to sit with suffering, to charm it, to bear it, the novel performing the limits of a doctor's cure."—Wyatt Mason, New York Times Magazine
- "So real, so rich and detailed, that the room in which I was reading vanished. I was transported to a lost world of the past. Suspenseful, thrilling, aching with emotion. Living with Lucius and Margarete--it was the First World War as I have never felt it."—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less
- "A remarkable example of how a skilled writer can turn a dusty premise into a story bursting with vivid life...Mason's prose, however, flows like clear water, leaving us moved by these star-crossed lovers, and by the soldiers 'who seemed forever stuck in their eternal winters.'"—Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
- "In the tradition of Cold Mountain and Doctor Zhivago, Daniel Mason's new novel is a gloriously gripping story of love, war, and the marvel of human endurance. Sweeping yet intimate, brutal yet tender, it kept me up, it broke my heart, and it made me remember yet again just how a good book--a really good book--rekindles our love of life."—Julia Glass, National Book Award-winning author of Three Junes and A House Among the Trees
- "In Mason's powerful tale of individuals caught up in world-changing events, Lucius's search for his lost love also becomes a journey towards some kind of redemption from the horrors he has witnessed."—Sunday Times (London)
- "One of the most beautifully written examples of historical fiction I've ever read: the details, the authenticity, and the clarity are remarkable. Every image is jaw-droppingly vivid...I was reminded, in all the best ways, of The English Patient and Doctor Zhivago."—Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant
- "Breathtaking and evocative...The Winter Soldier weaves a spellbinding story that draws you into another world from the very first page...Few stories handle the human cost of war as delicately and perceptively...Read it. It's a bravura performance."—Poornima Apte, Bookbrowse
- "In The Winter Soldier, Daniel Mason achieves a deeply affecting balancing act, drawing us into the crushing agony of war while simultaneously stirring our hearts with an inspired and touching love story."—Georgia Hunter, bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
- "Utterly convincing and written with a lyricism that belies the horrors it so unflinchingly describes, this is both a moving love story and a profound portrayal of war's physical and psychological effects on survivors."—Mail on Sunday (UK)
- "A sweeping story of love found and lost, steeped in medical details that reveal the full horrors that ill-equipped doctors and nurses faced over years of vicious trench warfare, The Winter Soldier is a vivid account of one man caught up in the epic forces of war, who desperately fights against the tides of change in search of redemption."—Booklist
- "Enthralled by the setting, the characters, and the language, I was held captive by this remarkable historical novel."—Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
- "A moving historical novel...Mason's old-fashioned novel delivers a sweeping yet intimate account of WWI, and in Lucius, the author has created an outstanding protagonist."—Publishers Weekly
- "The Winter Soldier is beautifully, elegantly written, Mason's prose pitched at a level where it feels rich and lustrous but at the same time transparent and devoid of pomposity. Constantly carrying the reader forward, it's a novel to get lost in, one you can look up from and find that hours have passed."—Alastair Mabbott, The Herald (Scotland)
- "Daniel Mason, a forty-two-year-old practicing psychiatrist, has quietly emerged as one of the finest prose stylists in American fiction--bringing a clinician's mind to the construction of interior worlds."—New York Times Magazine
- On Sale
- Sep 11, 2018
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Little, Brown and Company