Friday, 7 October 2016

Patrick Gale

Such a brilliant story - it bowled me over.

A Place Called Winter

My review - 

Harry Cane is an Edwardian gentleman. He marries Winnie, has a daughter Phyllis, and, because of some investment advice from a brother of Winnie’s loses a good chunk of his fortune. Because of a liaison with an acting coach, met through one of Winnie’s sisters, a Gaiety Girl, he is forced to accept exile to Canada. Homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment and family disgrace, but Harry’s brothers-in-law cover up his indiscretions. The soft-handed man who has never worked undertakes a terrifying voyage, a long and arduous journey, and the acquaintance of an unpleasant and exploitative man who arranges his land allocation, near the small settlement of Winter. He’s lucky in his friendships there and stays to farm during the Great War, after which he has a complete breakdown.

Patrick Gale has created some wonderful characters here. I cared deeply about Harry, was sorry his family and in-laws cut him off so completely and loved the people he met and worked with in his new life. The fly in his ointment, Troels Munck, is brutal and untrustworthy, as Harry finds to his cost. Gale has explored friendship, love, trust, fear, cruelty and bullying in this remarkably good story. Every reader brings personal interpretations to a story, but for me, this was just about perfect.

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