Sunday 22 November 2020

A MEAL IN WINTER by Hubert Mingarelli

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book:  I read a review of it on BookerTalk book blog.

In a Nutshell: Novella about one day in the life of three German soldiers.  Written in the first person from one point of view. 

On a freezing day during a Polish winter, three German soldiers out 'hunting' find a young Jewish man hidden in a hole.  After his capture, hungry and tired, they make camp in a deserted hovel, where they break up furniture and doors in order to make a fire and cook the little food they have into a soup. Soon, a guest arrives: a Pole, who displays great animosity towards the Jew, and offers his bottle of alcohol for a share of their meal.

The novella, which I would say took me about two or three hours to read altogether, centres around that cold afternoon and evening in the hovel, while the five wait for the meal to cook and, finally, get to eat. The German soldiers are portrayed not as monsters, but simply as men trying to find a way to sleep at night, in view of what they must do.  Of the three, Bauer is the most ruthless and jaded; I had the impression that he has only become so because of the horrors of the holocaust.  Emmerich, on the other hand, is plagued by guilt and fear about the effects of their actions on the rest of his life.

The brutality of their existence, and those of the Pole and the Jew, underlined for me once again how we in the Western world in the present day know so little about true hardship.  It's beautifully written, highly atmospheric, a story that will stay with me for some time.


  1. Your comment that we know so little of true hardship struck home for me - I was reminded of it daily as I wrote about the life of the Pilgrims, whose desire for a new home and religious freedom cost so many of them their lives.

    1. Ah yes, Noelle - that's on my soon-to-be-read list! When you see people whining on social media about this and that, then read a book like this one, it does tend to put things into perspective!

  2. Just did a major overhaul in terms of editing - now fixed on Kindle and the book soon. The printer of the book created duplications the text and I think used an earlier, unedited form of the ms. Always something....

    1. Oh dear! I have it downloaded on Kindle Unlimited - might be a good idea to give it back and borrow it again??