Red Winter: In stores today!
Timed perfectly to our snow day here in Montreal, Anneli Furmark's Red Winter hits stores today, and I can't think of a better book to curl up on the couch with. Set in northern Sweden in the late seventies, where the political climate is tense, and the harshness is exasperated by the relentless chill, Red Winter is a visual masterpiece, with a cold blue and orange watercolour palette that enhances Anneli's already incredibly expressive cartooning style.
Though the story revolves around Siv, a married mother of three, and her young lover, Ulrik, a communist recently arrived from southern Sweden, with a mission to infiltrate the local steelworkers union, at its core, it's the story of a mother reclaiming her sense of self.
After years of mothering—her three (almost grown) children, her generic husband (sorry, he's kinda blah though!)—and pushing every other passion to the side to make it all work/keep a home running, we see a woman, at midlife, on the verge of discovering who she is, taking what she needs, and gaining fulfillment and happiness through independence. It's a story I imagine most mother's can relate to on some level, whether or not they've thrown caution to the wind and taken a young lover or not. In this way, Ulrik acts more as a metaphor, a wakeup call, a gateway drug to self.
One of the strengths of the story is also Furmak's remarkable character development. Each character is instantly relatable, or like someone we know, without being a stereotype at all. Just real. Especially Siv's daughter, the youngest kid, Martia, who get's more stage time since she needs her mother more than the older two boys. She's young, but not too young to understand what's happening under her father's nose, and watching her process it all is both heartbreaking and reassuring, because we know she has what it takes to get through this life.
For more on Furmark, you can check out her beautiful new website!