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Frostquake By Juliet Nicolson

Frostquake by Juliet Nicolson

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'Juliet Nicolson is brilliant at recapturing mood, moment and character . That spring, new life was unleashed, along with freedoms we take for granted today.

'Frostquake is wholly remarkable .

Frostquake Summary

Frostquake: The frozen winter of 1962 and how Britain emerged a different country by Juliet Nicolson


'Juliet Nicolson is brilliant at recapturing mood, moment and character . . . This book is a must' Peter Hennessy

On Boxing Day 1962, when Juliet Nicolson was eight years old, the snow began to fall. It did not stop for ten weeks. The drifts in East Sussex reached twenty-three feet. In London, milkmen made deliveries on skis. On Dartmoor 2,000 ponies were buried in the snow, and starving foxes ate sheep alive.

It wasn't just the weather that was bad. The threat of nuclear war had reached its terrifying height with the recent Cuban Missile Crisis. Unemployment was on the rise, de Gaulle was blocking Britain from joining the European Economic Community, Winston Churchill, still the symbol of Great Britishness, was fading. These shadows hung over a country paralysed by frozen heating oil, burst pipes and power cuts.

And yet underneath the frozen surface, new life was beginning to stir. A new breed of satirists threatened the complacent decadence of the British establishment. A game-changing band from Liverpool topped the charts, becoming the ultimate symbol of an exuberant youthquake. Scandals such as the Profumo Affair exposed racial and sexual prejudice. When the thaw came, ten weeks of extraordinary weather had acted as a catalyst between two distinct eras.

From poets to pop stars, shopkeepers to schoolchildren, and her own family's experiences, Juliet Nicolson traces the hardship of that frozen winter and the emancipation that followed. That spring, new life was unleashed, along with freedoms we take for granted today.

'Frostquake is wholly remarkable . . . a rare and engrossing read that brought that time straight back to my memory and consciousness' Vanessa Redgrave

'As gripping as any thriller, Frostquake is the story of a national trauma that came out of nowhere and changed us forever. Brilliantly written and almost eerily relevant to our current troubles, I read it in one sitting' Tony Parsons

A 'book to look out for in 2021' in The Times & Sunday Times

Frostquake Reviews

An engagingly written mixture of social history and memoir . . . Nicolson invites us to see the worst winter of the century as a catalyst for social change in a nation that had entered the final months of 1962 in the grip of Edwardian deference and morality, yet emerged the following spring riding the first floods of the Swinging Sixties -- Trevor Phillips * Sunday Times *
Fascinating, quirky and evocative . . . Nicolson takes us right back to that muffled, snowbound world . . . The fact we happen to be living through another, different kind of paralysis adds an extra layer of fascination to this book -- Ysenda Maxtone Graham * Daily Mail *
An entertaining panorama of life in Britain during the original "beast from the east" . . . [Nicolson's] striking hypothesis . . . explores the impending social revolution from many angles . . . out of catastrophe can come change for good: a social revolution in 1963; perhaps an environmental awakening in 2021 -- Richard Morrison * The Times BOOK OF THE WEEK *
Juliet Nicolson's new book is a treasure trove... beautifully written. Nicolson uses the imagery of freeze and thaw as a metaphor for the new Britain that was being born, a conceit as elegant in its execution in its conception -- Alwyn Turner * BBC History Magazine *
Juliet Nicolson's timely study of that pivotal winter in British history has so many parallels with today that it occasionally sends a shiver down your spine . . . Her own memories of the turbulent months before and after that day are the thread that hold this beautifully stitched patchwork of stories together . . . convincing, poetic and often very touching -- Marcus Field * Evening Standard *
In this lively chronicle Juliet Nicolson, who was eight years old at the time, argues that the winter of 1962-63 marked a turning point in society, with Britain's social conventions beginning to burst apart at the seams. With cameos from Joanna Lumley and Harold Evans, and a nod to imminent Beatlemania, Nicolson buoyantly contends that out of devastation good can come * New Statesman *
Nicolson aims to do much more than present a charming word picture of the freakish winter of 1962-63 . . . where Frostquake triumphs is as a metaphor -- a network of images that describes how Britain was beginning to unfreeze from the 50s -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian *
She imaginatively uses that ten-week freeze to highlight many of Britain's then moribund laws and attitudes and their imminent collapse . . . Nicolson's writing is energetic and absorbing. By accumulating tiny details she brings a multitude of scenes to life. I thought I knew enough about Sylvia Plath, but the description of her lonely last days with two infant children, in freezing weather in her rental near London Zoo, is heartrending -- Elisa Segrave * Spectator *
Cutting deftly from ordinary lives to extraordinary ones, the author vividly evokes a time of almost molten change and innovation -- Ariane Bankes * Tablet *
Juliet Nicolson has done something incredibly clever in her book Frostquake. She has written living history. It is stunning -- Joanna Lumley

About Juliet Nicolson

Juliet Nicolson is the author of two works of history, The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War and The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911; and a family memoir, A House Full of Daughters. She lives with her husband in East Sussex, not far from Sissinghurst, where she spent her childhood.

Additional information

Frostquake: The frozen winter of 1962 and how Britain emerged a different country by Juliet Nicolson
Vintage Publishing
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