I originally reviewed this book in 2015 and whilst doing a bookshelf tidy up I picked it up again and was reminded how much I loved it. So much so that it is in my favourite book list as mentioned in my Nellie Knows column in The Wokingham Paper, 5 April 2018.
I don't know where to begin. When I first received the proof copy I stared at it, picking it up, running my hands over the title, looking at a perfect new book, no creases, no blemishes, no warning that I would fall headlong into reading it and would not really relish real life or being interrupted to do school run or cook. No there was none of that.
To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.
What there was though was a most fascinating, heart breaking, uplifting tale of love, family, hope, abandonment, fulfilment, joy, intrigue, upset, anger, resentment, acceptance – oh gosh everything.
A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convection at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.
Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the end go lode suburbs of the turn of the century Edwardian England. And yet it is her, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the thread of war, madness and evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for surveil will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever know before.
In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate, human drama, both brutal and breath-taking.
It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and ultimately of great love.
I tweeted a bit and lots of people said how envious they were as they love Patrick Gale. I then I read it – very slowly – taking it all in. At the end I cried. I cried because the ending was not how I imagined and my tears were of happiness! Then I picked it up again and read the last few chapters again. Then I cried again and made great big sobbing gulping noises as I thought of the whole book and what a massive experience Harry had been on to finally find his heart and soul in a place called Winter.
Without a doubt A Place Called Winter is an absolute gem of a book and so descriptive that I could have been there. I felt I knew some of the people and quite rightly I hated Munck immediately, yet loved Petra and Paul instantly.
Oh Harry. Oh Patrick.