Love is one of the most complex emotions we humans have to face and undergo. It is simply amazing how one four letter word can cause such intense emotions in people, giving them reason to commit extreme acts in the name of their own version of love. Love, like Time, waits for no one, and we are all subjected to it several times during the span of our lives. Simon Van Booy, author of the short story collection Love Begins In Winter, writes with lyrical magic about the different forms of love and the range of result feelings it produces. The five stories that make up this book are written with a unique style all their own that also show just how talented Van Booy is as an author. The first story, the title of the book, tells of the love between a young cellist who collects stones and a young woman who collects acorns. Both collect items stemmed from their memories of a lost loved one while they continue to search the earth for them, knowing that their searches are futile. It is through their mutual desperation to reclaim what can never be that leads them to each other and a love that is at once subdued yet fiery, simple yet complex, tame yet full of passion. They knew they were meant to be together, ready to share each others'pain and hope for a better future.
The second story entitled Tiger, Tiger is of a woman and her boyfriend and their love that is transformed through the boyfriend’s parents undergoing a divorce and the discovery of a book that opens the mind of the girlfriend. Through this discovery of the book, the woman remembers a moment in her childhood in which she bit the arm of a little boy while playing at a park. This act, of which she repeated many years later, reflected her own passion, allowing herself to express her love in the only way she knew how. The third story entitled The Missing Statues tells the story of a man who, while seeing several missing statues while visiting Rome, comes to confess a sad and yet happy moment in which he touched the life of another person who needed it but did not realize it. A young woman named Molly and her son Max were waiting for a man to pick them up from their waiting spot in Las Vegas. While waiting, they meet a gondolier from another casino, who gives them a reason to smile even when all is lost – a love of beauty, in all forms, in the midst of sadness. The forth story entitled The Coming and Going of Strangers is of a young man who burns with passion for a young woman but instead marries her younger sister due to a fateful night and encounter between the two. The passion felt by the young man is carried through his life with his object of desire’s sister, revealing to the reader the joy and later destruction that one can feel when one is consumed with love for another. Finally, the fifth story entitled The City of Windy Trees tells the story of George, an ordinary man living an ordinary life until he receives a photograph of a little girl sent from Sweden. The past comes alive once more, giving him reason to change the course of his life as well as experience the newfound emotions felt from the photograph. His form of love comes in the form of completion and a purpose for his existence; it gives him a reason to breathe.
Through these stories, Van Booy shows us the power of love and the effect it has on people from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds. His stories sing with a maturity and desire that only few authors are capable of doing today, weaving in personal experiences and giving them a life of their own. Van Booy is quite capable of making his readers believe in love while exposed to today’s society filled with apathy, emotional blindness, and spiritual impotence. He shows us through his stories that hope is there even in the worst of circumstances, and that we can love, no matter our own past faults and regrets. It may not take the form that is so readily accepted by the majority but the love felt and expressed is possible; in fact, Van Booy’s written forms of love are more realistic than what we have experienced in our lives. His definitions of love are archaic, complex, gritty, and strange, smelling of fruit not yet ripe and wine barely tasted. But, the final outcome of loss and eventual gain, thereby leading to love, is quite worth it.