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Minds of Winter
     

Minds of Winter

by Ed O'Loughlin
 

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In a journey shrouded in mystery and intrigue, Sir John Franklin's 1845 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy. All 129 men were lost to the ice, and nothing from the expedition was retrieved, including two rare and valuable Greenwich chronometers. When one of the chronometers appears a century and a half later in London, in pristine condition

Overview

In a journey shrouded in mystery and intrigue, Sir John Franklin's 1845 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy. All 129 men were lost to the ice, and nothing from the expedition was retrieved, including two rare and valuable Greenwich chronometers. When one of the chronometers appears a century and a half later in London, in pristine condition and crudely disguised as a Victorian carriage clock, new questions arise about what really happened on that expedition--and the fates of the men involved.

When Nelson Nilsson, an aimless drifter from Alberta, finds himself in Canada's Northern Territories in search of his brother, he meets Fay Morgan by chance. Fay has just arrived from London, hoping to find answers to her burning questions about her past. When they discover that their questions about their pasts and present are inextricably linked, the two will become unlikely partners as they unravel a mystery that traverses continents and centuries.

In a narrative that crosses time and space, O'Loughlin delves deep into the history of Franklin's expedition through the eyes of the explorers themselves, addressing questions that have intrigued historians and readers for centuries. What motivated these men to strike out on dangerous campaigns in search of the unknown? What was at stake for them, and for those they left behind? And when things went wrong--things that couldn't be shared--what would they do to protect themselves and their discoveries?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/09/2017
The third novel by O’Loughlin (Not Untrue and Not Unkind) is a complex tale of historical intrigue about 19th-century polar explorers, the strange disappearance of Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition in 1845, and the unexpected discovery of key evidence relating to the disappearance in 2009. When a chronometer issued to Franklin shows up in London 150 years after the expedition crudely disguised as a carriage clock, speculation about the fate of Franklin and his 129 men is reignited. In Canada’s Northwest Territory, drifter Nelson Nilsson searches for his missing brother, Bert, but meets a British woman, Fay Morgan, who is researching her grandfather’s past. Unwilling allies, Nelson and Fay look through Bert’s papers, discovering unlikely connections between their own searches and Franklin’s fate, but neither trusts the other and secrets remain hidden. O’Loughlin uses frequent historical flashbacks to trace the chronometer’s passage among polar explorers, from Franklin, Joseph Bellot, and Elisha Kane to Cecil Meares and Roald Amundsen, without clearly defining the chronometer’s provenance. Nelson and Fay’s investigation is further clouded by Bert’s apparent obsession with the real identity of Canada’s infamous cop killer Albert Johnson, “the Mad Trapper of Rat River,” and the World War II spy activities of Fay’s grandfather. The historical depictions of polar explorers—the men, conditions, and horrible fates—are accurate and stunning. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Minds of Winter

"The novel is a tapestry of time and place, a study of human nature, and a celebration of exploration and adventure."—Booklist (Starred Review)

"A complex tale of historical intrigue about 19th-century polar explorers, the strange disappearance of Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition in 1845, and the unexpected discovery of key evidence relating to the disappearance in 2009 . . . The historical depictions of polar explorers--the men, conditions, and horrible fates--are accurate and stunning."—Publishers Weekly

"A tour de force juggling act of narrative legerdemain." -Kirkus Reviews

"The scope is truly epic, taking us literally from pole to pole and covering 175 years of history"—Quill and Quire

"Minds of Winter is a remarkable feat of imagination, empathy, and research. Past and present merge to convey the polar landscape's immense mysteries, and the lives of those voyagers compelled to seek answers in its icy expanses. Ed O'Loughlin is a skilled cartographer of both the Arctic and the human heart. What a magnificent novel."—Ron Rash, New York Times best-selling author

"O'Loughlin's novel is a hymn to human endurance. There will be few better historical novels published this year."—The Sunday Times of London

"For those interested in the obsessions of polar exploration, this is a compelling and suitably idiosyncratic voyage into its strange motivations."—The Australian

"intricately structured"—Times Literary Supplement

"A compelling and hugely ambitious novel."
Irish Mail on Sunday

"Gripping . . . O'Loughlin is operating at the interstices of truth and history, of that which can be known and that which cannot . . . The final pages seem inevitable, as great endings must; the whole novel wondrous in its tone and reach."
Eoin McNamee, The Irish Times

"A book that gets you down to the marrow. The compass of Ed O'Loughlin's Minds of Winter points north by northnorth. Up and up it goes, drawn by husky dogs towards the North Pole, chillier and chillier by degrees, frostbitten, snow-blind, but determined . . . Thrilling, Boys' Own, Hornblower stuff."
Laura Freeman, Spectator

"A novel as wide and daring in its execution as its subject - centuries of mystery, horror and human courage in polar exploration. This rollicking, beautifully written tale ranges from the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin in 1845 - with its promise of British heroism mingled with hints of cannibalism - to the expeditions of Roald Amundsen both to the South Pole and the Northwest Passage, with a fascinating dose of Nazi U-boats and Cold War spying. The stories fade out, like so many lives lost in blinding snowdrifts, leaving the mysteries to echo hauntingly in readers' minds, hoping always for a little more."—The Sunday Times of South Africa

"Author Ed O'Loughlin has masterfully drawn everything together. It takes talent to be able to plot out a mystery and to leave clues and little breadcrumbs for the readers. I would recommend this to folks who enjoy historical mysteries and multiple story lines. If you enjoy Ken Follett, this would be a great one for you. All in all a great read and a truly memorable ending."—Mountains on the Horizon

"a haunting novel of the Arctic"—The National Post

Praise for Not Untrue and Not Unkind

"A graceful writer."—The Guardian

"Intensely evocative."—The New York Times

"Eloquent and thoughtful."—Times Literary Supplement

"The most exciting first novel I have read in many years."—Anne Enright, Booker Award-winning author of The Gathering

"A simply brilliant debut by an author of great poise and power."—Tim Butcher, award-winning journalist and author of The Trigger

"A mesmerizing look at what was and what might have been. Highly recommended"—For the Love of Books

Kirkus Reviews
2017-01-23
A massive, complex novel about a long-lost chronometer.In O'Loughlin's (Top Loader, 2011, etc.) acknowledgements, where he lists the prodigious amount of research that went into his novel, he describes the book as "a self-indulgent mess of cobbled-together myth and mystery." He began with a 2009 British newspaper article about the Arnold 294, a high-precision navigational chronometer that was taken on the unsuccessful 19th-century Franklin expedition to discover a Northwest passage and was believed lost but which had turned up in Britain 160 years later, converted into a carriage clock. How could this be? Like the "meshes of a net," this is the first of many narrative threads woven through O'Loughlin's labyrinthine tale. The main story involves Nelson Nilsson and his present-day search in the fierce cold and snow of the Arctic Circle for his missing geographer brother, Bert. He's soon joined by an Englishwoman, Fay Morgan, who needs help in her search for her missing grandfather, Hugh Morgan, a former apprentice to Cecil Meares, the dog handler for Scott's 1910 expedition to Antarctica. Then we're in 1841 at a festive ball being held on the decks of the expedition's two ships, the Erebus and the Terror. Set on three continents, the novel moves back and forth in time, mixing in fictional and historical figures. On this voyage, you'll encounter the explorer Roald Amundsen; the Mad Trapper of Rat River; and Jack London. Also making appearances are northern Canada's Distant Early Warning system and World War II Nazi meteorological stations in Greenland. At one point Nelson and Fay realize their separate searches are actually converging. Make a list of characters and keep it handy—maps are provided—to navigate this atmospheric, far-reaching novel. It may all be too much for some readers. A tour de force juggling act of narrative legerdemain.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781681442457
Publisher:
Quercus
Publication date:
03/07/2017
Pages:
500
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.50(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Ed O'Loughlin was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He reported from Africa for the Irish Times and other papers, and was Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne. His first novel, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, was long listed for the 2009 Man Booker Prize. His second novel, Toploader, was published in 2011.