Why we love it!
Patrick Gale cements his position as one of the great storytellers with A Place Called Winter. Deftly weaving tenderness, love, loss, passion and human struggle into an unforgettable and irresistible story, this is one of those books you never want to end – it leaves you calling for more.
With his mother dead and practically abandoned by his father, Harry Crane is as good as orphaned around the turn of the twentieth century. But after his father’s death, the estate should ensure he never has to work. When Harry develops a remarkable rapport with a woman in love with another man, he is swept along by his in-laws-to-be, weds Winnie, fathers her child and loses a large part of his inheritance on a family member’s whim. Coasting through life, a deliciously clandestine affair brings Harry his first taste of love and with it, a scandal that could destroy him…
Forced to leave what remains of his fortune behind with his wife and child, Harry seeks an opportunity to start again in Canada, as “most outcasts banish themselves.” Nothing can prepare Harry for his new life – hard physical labour, stripped of social standing and devoid of most human contact, he takes his punishment as it comes, hoping to establish himself as a farmer in the remote wilderness town of Winter. Here, he has a new chance at love but life isn’t prepared to throw Harry a peace offering quite so easily.
We asked Gale about the similarities between Australian and Canadian pioneers. “Well, one of the parallels that struck me most keenly was in the fate of the indigenous tribespeople pushed aside by the colonists. I knew about reservations but not about the hideous ‘residential schools’ in which we separated children from their families and forcibly Christianised them as late as the 1970s. I touch on this in the character of Ursula, a two-souls Plains Cree who has been scarred forever by her experience of them.”
A Place Called Winter is a spectacular triumph. Loosely based on the life of Gale’s great-grandfather, his affection for Harry is infectious. “I love it when I set out to write one book and find that research turns it into quite another.” In his own words, Patrick Gale has created “a novel about gender and power.” In our opinion, this is a wonderful, brilliantly crafted tale brimming with beauty.