Why Women Need To Give Themselves Permission To Rest: Our May Book Club Pick

In partnership with Villa Maria 

Welcome to Capsule’s new book club! We’re SO excited to bring you a new book each month to devour and savour. Whether you indulge in a few hours of luxurious alone time each Sunday, or finish your day with a chapter or two, we invite you to relax and enjoy, and if you’re so inclined, connect with fellow Capsule readers and your own family and friends to have a yarn about the book you’ve just read. We’ll be mixing up the titles we feature every month, so you’re in for an eclectic monthly journey.

And, thanks to our new partners Villa Maria, each book will be expertly wine matched with a great bottle of Villa’s finest – this month, we bring you their divine good Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir. 

We’ll also provide discussion points on our Instagram @capsule_nz throughout the month, and for more exclusive offers, event invitations and bonus content, please do sign up to our newsletter here!


I would estimate that in 90% of the interviews I’ve done over the past few months, there have been two themes that run through each of them. Firstly, that people enjoyed the ‘permission’ of lockdown last year to remain inside and hunker down and, inversely, that they find the pace of 2021 to be relentless and are strangely sentimental for the six-week period last year where we all went home, stayed home.

In Wintering, author Katherine May writes about the ‘unfashionable’ need to rest and retreat from modern life from time to time, but how important that slowing down of the pace of daily life is. Winter, she says, represents a time to recover a bit from the relentless speed of summer – and of life! – and most other species in the world have a plan to endure and enjoy it; it’s only humans who think they are mostly immune to the seasons.

As the seasons shift from end of summer into crisp autumn weather, there’s no denying the flow-on effect to our bodies as we, too, start to crave a retreat from the outside world. However, modern life doesn’t align with this – and when we do need to rest, we can often feel left behind by everyone else. But this need to cocoon can also come during hard times in our lives where, no matter what the world is doing, events in our personal lives can mean we go to ground and do our best to recuperate. 

It can come after a stressful event, a loss, a health issue; we all experience our own ’winters’ at various stages of our lives and this stunning book focuses on both: how getting back into the rhythm of the natural world can soothe our stressed selves, but also how to cope when – to put it bluntly – the sh-t is hitting the fan and you don’t know how to get through it.

“Some winters happen in the sun,” the opening sentence to the book reads. “This particular one began on a blazing day in early September, a week before my fortieth birthday.”

In short succession, Katherine’s husband falls sick and is rushed to hospital, then she becomes sick with a chronic health condition that leaves her unable to work. Everything changes quickly and drastically and looking after both her and her family’s health becomes the priority. While covering her own difficult couple of years, Katherine weaves in interviews and anecdotes from people who not only have survived their own difficult times but also who come from climates where surviving actual winter is very hard work. The importance of rest and recuperation is well covered, as is the importance of planning for an incoming winter. As well as this, the importance of celebrating when you can is discussed, in order to provide some contrast to the dark times. Inspiration comes from a variety of sources: dormice, Druid celebrations, cold-water swimming, Scandinavian winters, travelling to parts of the world where winter means weeks without sunlight.

This book first came out last year, at a time when the whole world was tucked away at home and I knew from very early on that it was going to be a book I would re-read many times. In fact, I made a promise that I would read it at the beginning of every winter because the messages – and the advice – are as beautifully told as they are important to read. None of us exist in perfect times forever – for everything there is a season and you never know when the next life-altering moment is around the corner. But Katherine’s message in the book is not to fear or run away from our need to rest and retreat, but to lean into the opportunities to do so. This book is there to give you permission to rest: put your phone on do not disturb, dim the lights, grab your fluffiest blanket and hunker down.

Katherine also writes about surviving the tough times and that when you have experienced one ‘winter’, you are then more resilient for when the next one inevitably shows up.

“I recognised winter because I saw it coming… and I looked it in the eye,” she writes. “I had some tricks up my sleeve, you see. I learned them the hard way. When I started feeling the drag of winter, I began to treat myself like a favoured child: with kindness and love. I assumed my needs were reasonable and that my feelings were signals of something important. I kept myself well fed and made sure I was getting enough sleep. I took myself for walks in the fresh air and spent time doing things that soothed me. I asked myself: What is this winter all about? I asked myself: What change is coming?”

This actual winter we are on the cusp of is not necessarily an easy one – the after-effects of Covid-19 are still very much being felt for a lot of people, and we are still at the mercy of an extremely changeable world. Basically, we all need a rest and we all need someone to tell us to do it! Please, consider this article and this book the permission slip you need to do so!

The idea of looking after yourself ‘like a favoured child’ and leaning into the cosiness of winter is a strong theme of the book; embracing the delicious and decadent elements of the cold months. A roaring fire, an early night, a glass of red wine, getting up in the dark of the morning and making a pot of coffee to watch the sun rise… this is the stuff that winters are made of. It’s luxurious to read such a clever, kind and beautifully written book that teaches us to tune into the ups and downs of life and take care of ourselves while we do it. 

Extra content: On Being with Krista Tippett is one of the most soothing, thoughtful and wonderful podcasts and she did a superb interview with Wintering author Katherine May called How Wintering Replenishes

VILLA MARIA WINE MATCH with Villa’s Wine Expert, Jessica Bell

With the change of seasons, curling up with a red wine on a cold Autumn night is one of life’s joys and we think a book about looking after yourself and leaning into the slower pace of winter deserves a wine as refined and richly textured as the Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir.

Hailing from some of the finest vineyards Marlborough has to offer, this wine is delicate yet packed full of flavour. It’s generous and rich with aromas of red and dark cherries, plums and subtle spicy clove notes.

This is a red wine that is equal parts cosy as it is celebratory, and that ties in well with the themes of this book; in taking care of ourselves during our own periods of winter, we can emerge stronger and happier, if we learn to relax and retreat when we need to.

Miss last month’s book selection? Check out our match of the delicious Bridgerton novel, The Duke & I, and the equally dreamy Villa Maria EarthGarden 2020 rosé!

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