A Place Called Winter, by Patrick Gale, is a beautiful, sweeping saga of love and loss. Loosely based on the author’s own family history it tells the tale of Harry Cane, an English gentleman whose mother died giving birth to his brother when Harry was four years old. Cared for by a nursery maid until he was old enough to be sent away to school Harry barely knew his father who chose to grieve for his wife abroad. By the time he too died his boys had settled into a bachelor life of wealth and privilege, their only family each other.
Harry was an introvert with a stutter. He followed the expected conventions of the time but shunned social interaction when he could. Thanks to his brother’s more gregarious nature he was introduced to the woman who would become his wife. However, their settled life by the sea had to be abandoned when financial dealings went badly wrong. Soon after this Harry started an affair which, when discovered, led to his banishment abroad. He chose to seek a new life on the wild Canadian prairies, and ended up at a place called Winter.
Harry worked hard on his plot of land, made friends and settled down. He could not, however, rid himself of the attentions of a misogynist and bully who had taken an interest in him whilst on the boat to Canada. This man’s actions threatened to undo all that Harry had achieved.
The plot is compelling but it is the style of writing that drew me in. The evocative prose put me into the heart of every scene as I felt each character’s pain, uncertainty, triumph and despair. Harry was a good man, ill equipped to cope with those who would take advantage of his nature. He was born into a time when society punished those who dared to find love outside of narrowly prescribed convention.
The unfolding story made my heart ache. The injustices of a narrow minded society hurt. That such prejudices still exist today, even if no longer enshrined in law, shows that we still have some way to go before we may consider ourselves a civilised society.
Read this exquisite story, enjoy the beauty of the writing, the depth of the plot. This book has the potential to change a reader’s way of thinking. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Tinder Press.