review by Maryom
Beware - there are spoilers here. A Place Called Winter is a book that's now been talked about a lot in the press, on the radio, at book festivals etc, and it's been shortlisted for this year's Costa Best novel, so you may be more or less aware of the story outline. I don't believe anything I've said will spoil your enjoyment of the story but it's nice to approach a book for the first time with absolutely no idea of what will happen.
I'd already read this twice (!) before I published my first review back in March and was delighted to find it picked as one of my book club's reads so I had an excuse to read it again.
It's about frontier life, about swapping complacent idleness for hard
work, about a man, disgraced and victimised for his sexuality, coming to
terms with his feelings, daring to believe that what he can feel for
another man is love and that somewhere, right on the ages of society and
civilisation, these two can find a way to be together.
When I first encountered this book, I was drawn to it by the romantic notion of frontier living, of being the first to turn the soil and create a home in the wilderness - possibly influenced by too much Little House on the Prairie - but it's the personal story of the book's protagonist Harry Cane that brings me back. It's set in the early twentieth century, and Harry is living a comfortable middle-class life, rather drifting along doing all the expected things like marrying and fathering a child, and even his secret affair with a male actor/speech therapist doesn't break him out of this complacent rut - until his brother-in-law finds out! Then to avoid scandal and imprisonment, Harry is compelled to leave the country; within the week, he's off to Canada, intent on securing a plot of land and turning farmer. This is something he's always rather dreamed of doing, but in a lazy, hazy, rose-tinted glasses kind of way and he would probably never have acted on his dreams if circumstances hadn't forced him.
After this third read, I still love it - the combination of sweeping breadth and small moments of intimacy, the contrast between Harry's 'first' sheltered life in Edwardian London and his second in the wilds of Saskatchewan. It's definitely a keeper!
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Tinder Press
Genre - Adult fiction, literary, historical, LGBT,