Winter Blogfest: Madeleine McDonald

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A Shackled Inheritance.

The One Resolution Worth Keeping

New Year resolutions? I gave up on them years ago.

For me the year begins at the winter solstice. Lacking the skills of ancient Babylonians or Greeks, I am unable to pinpoint the moment when the sun stands still in the sky, but I am certainly able to detect the extra few minutes of daylight the following day. Daylight that filters through the curtains and seduces me out to patrol the beach at dawn, welcoming a sunrise that will come earlier and earlier.

One of the few advantages to growing older is the realisation that however many New Year resolutions I fail to keep, the earth will keep turning and the cycle of the seasons will continue.

We humans are naturally optimistic, and often unrealistic. Forty years ago, as a new mother, my ambition would have been to snatch back some semblance of sanity from the fog of sleep deprivation. That happened through the passage of time, not through any act of will on my part.

For a New Year resolution to succeed, our behaviour has to change. Yet the other great advantage to growing older is that I have learned to forgive my weaknesses. Having preferred slurps of coffee to an exercise programme, 365 days a year, year in, year out, I know that a formal vow to start doing sit-ups and lose my tummy will be no help at all.

As for grandiose resolutions to write a bestseller, learn to play the piano, or even declutter the house from top to bottom, my brain shrieked “overload” and shut down. Sanity, snatched back from the fog of exhaustion, told me that as a working mum I was stretched to my limits already and that a restorative cup of tea would do me more good.

The big one, becoming a nicer person, forget about that too. My family long ago informed me that crabbiness is part of my nature.

Nowadays I prefer to dilute my essential crabbiness by yoking my spirits to the slow return of light and warmth. Human beings’ reaction to the awesome power of the sun must go back to caveman days, when our ancestors emerged blinking into another dawn, safe from nocturnal predators.

Once past the solstice, my ancestral genes tell me that the earth too is stirring. Despite doing my food shopping in a supermarket, I am still programmed to feel a surge of hope and thankfulness on the appearance of the first snowdrops, with their promise that, come spring, food will no longer be rationed.

Over time, my resolutions have shrunk to a single, modest vow: to take each day as it comes, and to enjoy the small miracles of life, like snowdrops.

Snowdrop photo courtesy of Redsimon, Creative Commons.

When downtrodden spinster Abigail Carrick inherits one third of a sugar plantation, she defies convention and crosses the ocean to meet two unknown sisters. Yet it is her new sister Desiree who threatens the burgeoning romance between Abigail and idealistic lawyer Euan Sinclair.






About the Author: Madeleine McDonald lives on the chilly east coast of England, where the wind whistles up through the floorboards.


Buy the book at Amazon.



  1. I love this. I try to make resolutions, but I look at them more as guidelines than things I absolutely have to keep. As long as I at least think about them, I figure I have to be doing better than I was when I didn’t think of them at all. 🙂

  2. I appreciate your approach to new year’s resolutions. I still make one every year, but I’m slowly beginning to choose goals that are a bit less onerous. 🙂

  3. You’ve narrowed the whole New Year’s Resolution thing down o its essence. I totally agree with you. Once the days start getting longer, my spirits pick up, and as far as I’m concerned, the New Year is upon us. Resolutions don’t work. Your vow to live one day at a time is perfect. Thank you for sharing. Happy New Year.

  4. Good luck with keeping the one you choose to make in 2018, Astilbe. Madeleine

  5. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post. I agree about resolutions. Easy to make, hard to keep. I know many who beat themselves up about not persisting with their resolutions. And I also agree with you about the new year beginning at the solstice. Those extra minutes of daylight are precious.

  6. Jane Dougherty says:

    Ha ha! I can understand why you set your novel in the Caribbean. Beats Whitby anyday. I’m with you on the Solstice. We’re banking up the fires here and sod the 25th.

  7. interesting post

  8. Congratulations to CB Clark, who wins an e-copy of A Shackled Inheritance. Enjoy the read.

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