The Winter Visitor by Joan Lingard

The Winter Visitor by Joan Lingard was first published in 1983.

The setting is the 1970s in a seaside town in the east of Scotland, not far from Edinburgh (Portobello?) where Mrs Murray is living with her two teenage children. Mr Murray is working in the Gulf, but for how long nobody knows, he seemed to have dificulty holding on to jobs. To help with finances Mrs Murray runs a boarding house during the high season, visitors rarely want to have a holiday in winter, it’s freezing.

So when Ed Black turns up looking for a room the locals are surprised, especially as he comes from Northern Ireland, as Mrs Murray’s mother comes from Belfast the rumour locally is that Mrs Murray and Ed knew each other in the past. Nick, the son isn’t happy about the situation. The injured Ed had apparently been a victim of a car bomb which had killed his wife. ‘The Troubles’ mean that N. Ireland is a dangerous place to live.

This is the first of Lingard’s Northern Irish books that I’ve read. Although she was born in Edinburgh she lived in Belfast from the age of 2 to 18, from then on she lived in Edinburgh again. The atmosphere in Belfast was/is very similar to that of the west of Scotland, with ‘mixed’ marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics being more than just frowned upon. I think things have moved on nowadays as religion has less of an influence on people in general.

I enjoyed this one so I’ll seek out her books that have a Northern Irish setting – eventually.

I really like the book cover which was designed by Krystyna Turska.

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