Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Place called Winter - Patrick Gale - epic historical drama

From the Blurb:

In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

My Review:

This is the first book by Patrick Gale I've read, the historical aspect is what attracted me to it, together with rave reviews from a few friends whose judgement I trust implicitly, Anne on Random Things .... and Karen's My reading Corner .

I have to admit it wasn't quite what I was expecting but I did love it, the storyline flowed so naturally and there are some really great characters together with some exceptionally dislikeable ones. In fact I must admit, unlike many others I was a little impatient with the main protagonist, Harry who had such great propensity for putting his trust in the wrong people time after time and also for rather letting down those who didn't totally deserve it, although I didn't wish him ill of his naivety.

However Harry's story is well worth reading, it jumps back and forth in time, beginning in the middle when he is in a mental institution but as yet we don't know what drove him to this place. As he looks back over his life, from the early years as a substitute father to his brother Jack, then as husband and father himself, we watch helpless as he makes foolish choices and ends up having to take a rather momentous decision, to emigrate and leave behind the family he loves, deemed a kind of punishment for making a rash and foolish attachment he nevertheless sees this as an opportunity to break free from the constraints of domesticity and sets off alone to the far reaches of Canada as an early 20th century settler claiming land and becoming a homesteader.

He adapts pretty well to this huge change of circumstacnces and meets many unique characters all of whom help shape his destiny, but will he ever finally get the chance to be the man he really wants to be?

The characters and story ensure the reader becomes deeply absorbed in the book and in turn I loathed Troals (The Troll) of whom Harry is warned before he even leaves England yet still decides to take at face value and I loved many of the other characters including Ursula the cross dressing Cree.

Fabulous storytelling coupled with immaculate sense of place and descriptions to die for, make this stand head and shoulders above many books set in similar historical settings and definitely one to recommend. My thanks go to Netgalley for providing my ebook to review.

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