A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
Published by Tinder Press
27th August 2015
To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.
A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention 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 golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known 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 breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.
This is actually the first Patrick Gale book I've ever read and again, it was due to the comments over on Twitter that made me go out and buy it. In fact, I dragged my small girls around the shops on our holiday on it's paperback publication day in order to get myself a copy.
I have to say, from the offset, I really enjoyed this book. It's captivating, moving, atmospheric and wonderfully written, and I've since added more of Patrick's books on to my kindle. Set just before the start of the First World War, Harry Cane meets the Wells family, due to his younger brother's attraction to George, Mrs Wells' eldest daughter. While he is there, he and Winifred strike up an easy-going friendship which later leads to marriage, and Harry's life seems all mapped out.
An unfortunate error on Harry's part sees the life he has settled into come to a sudden end, and he is forced to leave Winifred, and his small daughter behind, whilst taking the harsh journey into the unknown, to set up a new life on the recently colonised plains of Canada, to a place called Winter.
The story moves back and forth, from Harry's time at Bethel, a hospital for the very disturbed, back to the days before the war began, when he first met Winnie, and then transporting the reader across to the wilderness of Canada as he strives to build himself a new life. However, can the secrets that Harry carries with him remain as such, or are there others who will stop at nothing to seek them out and rain destruction on the life of this quiet man?
A Place Called Winter has been called a western, which is some ways it is, but it is also a love story, both tender and heart-breaking at the same time. I throughly recommend getting a copy.