I had promised myself a reread of A Kiss for Midwinter this Christmas, however I didn’t get to it until this weekend, but that doesn’t matter since its a very quick read. It is Mrs. Julien’s favorite novella, possibly of all time, and one that I really enjoyed, but always felt like I was missing something. I think I’m still missing something, but this is definitely a 4.5 star book for me, and proves that Milan is fantastic at novellas (not that I didn’t already know that).
Quickly, A Kiss for Midwinter is the story of Dr. Jonas Grantham and Miss Lydia Charingford. Jonas has decided to get married (for safe access to intercourse, I kid you not) and has fallen for the eleventh most beautiful woman in Leicester (his ranking). Unfortunately for Jonas, Lydia’s foremost thought of him is that he was present for her greatest shame, and she cannot see him without remembering that terrible Christmas.
For those that have read the Brothers Sinister series (and seriously, everyone should) we meet Lydia as the best friend of Minnie in The Duchess War and this story takes place in the months following the end of that book. When I first reviewed this book I was struck by Milan’s ability to give her characters incredible depth in a few short pages, and I was struck by that again. We are plunged into Lydia’s backstory of her being taken advantage of by an older man and left pregnant and unmarried. We are also brought into her inner workings, as she battles with truly making peace with what happened to her. We are also introduced to Jonas and his particular set of constraints and practicalities. He is a doctor on the forward edge of science (he won’t wear gloves because they could be germ factories) but his default practical nature often catches others completely off guard. That in combination with his dark sense of humor makes most people, including Lydia; write him off as making fun of them when in fact he is almost always telling them the truth he cannot let go unsaid.
This novella is at its top quality in the quiet moments between Jonas and Lydia. The scenes at the Christmas Tree and the Churchyard will make your heart swoon. They certainly do mine (other cannonballers refer to this as being hit in the swooners).