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Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

Winter's Tale (original 1983; edition 2005)

by Mark Helprin

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3,057841,854 (4.15)190
Title:Winter's Tale
Authors:Mark Helprin
Info:Mariner Books (2005), Edition: First edition., Paperback, 768 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (1983)

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Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
I remember being so excited about reading this book. And it did have many beautiful elements. Mark Helprin created some fascinating and memorable characters but then placed them into a very undefined storyline and then added a number of lengthy (quite poetic at times) descriptions. I am usually a big fan of such playful use of language but in this case I felt that these descriptions were chopping up the storyline instead of tying it all together. I worked my way through it mainly because of the attachment I formed to one of the main characters, Peter Lake. The ending left me disappointed. I persevered hoping that the story will take off, but the ending felt mildly anticlimactic. ( )
  anais_nin | Aug 20, 2014 |
Peter Lake's life as a burglar in turn of the 20th century New York City is a constant struggle for survival as he works to elude the Short Tails gang and their terrifying leader Pearly Soames. When he breaks into the Penn household he meets angelic Beverly and they swiftly fall in love, despite the overhanging threat of Beverly's consumption. In New York City at the cusp of the millennium a diverse group of people all arrive, some of whom are distinctly out of sync with the current time, and all of whom will change the face of the city forever.

I put this book on The List after I saw the trailer for the film, being of the "read it first" school. And while I made it through the nearly 600 pages, I'm honestly still not sure about how I feel about the book. The first part of the novel is beautiful and lyrical with intriguing characters and a plot that builds to a fascinating and heartbreaking crescendo. Then the other three parts of the novel arrive and, while the writing remains lyrical and beautiful and the new cast of characters initially caught my attention, the novel loses its momentum. Plus it became increasingly weird in a way that left me wondering if I simply didn't understand the themes and ideas the author was attempting to explore or if the book had just taken a turn into a bizarre left field. What initially began as a charming and slow building magical realism novel became something that eluded definition and leaves me at loose ends. I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading this one and if you do, can you let me know what you think of it? Maybe it'll help me define how I feel. ( )
  MickyFine | Aug 4, 2014 |
Excessive description suffocated all the life out of this story. And the ending was the worst kind of laziness on the writer's part. After slogging through 22 CDs, I hoped for something wonderful and all I got was disappointment. ( )
  catinthesun | Jun 30, 2014 |
I really enjoy watching good films that have been made from good books. So, having seen a lot of people making a really big deal out of this book being made into a film-- and it having some actors in it that I actually quite like-- I decided to make it a priority to listen to this audio-book next.

I always listen to the full audio-books, not the abridged ones, because it seems sort of like cheating--or being cheat-ed when you don't get to listen to the entire book. However, I tell you, in THIS book's case? I really, really wish I'd found an abridged edition. Perhaps I wouldn't have been so completely annoyed with it by the time I was done.

I thought, because of the sheer number of people who truly seem to adore this book that Helprin must be an extraordinary writer. Perhaps he could be, if he'd lose a bit of his love of the "prettiness" of his very wordy sentences and actually chop his book back a great deal so that it flowed better. I remember listening to many great authors speak and many have said that often-times the sentences you have to cut are those that seem the most "precious", or self-conscious--those you seem most proud of--simply because if they are there for the 'writer',and not because they belong in the book- then they don't belong in the book. I constantly found that to be the case in this book.

I have always disliked it when an author decided they needed to overtly describe a scene or a setting to the point of being ridiculous. Firstly, it's boring. Second, it's pretentious and thirdly, it holds up the actual action of the plot and movement of the characters in whatever they are supposed to do. So, well... this book drove me absolutely crazy.

As I listened to this book I *often* found myself saying out loud, "I get it, it's pretty there... Now, could you PLEASE just get ON with the story??" (I was vacuuming so at least I didn't sound like a nut!) :)

But, I stuck with it. Because... I wanted to find out one thing. The author had made me curious about how he was going to tie up a plot that was "supposedly" the main plot of the book (according to the book jacket) (But with the way the book meanders and jumps from plot to plot and character to character... there were times I really lost track of what was going on. Still, I held onto my curiosity about Peter...) I do not understand what sort of possible metaphors or underlying meaning the author might have been attempting to write into the book, because it was so sodden with hyperbole that the story almost seemed not the point. It seemed he wrote the book merely to have somewhere to wax poetic at long length about the woods and horses and the moon, and to try to think of really outlandish things that could happen that he could somehow just write in as "fine" and have the reader accept it because, well, he wrote it--despite it making absolutely no sense at all.
Because, seriously, the ENTIRE scene where Peter meets Beverly... REALLY?? Back in the days when women used to have to be followed about by chaperone, *this* woman--who is ILL--is left ALONE (She's female and ILL, remember) she's accosted by a middle-aged man alone INSIDE her house who ADMITS he is there as a burglar so her response is... to decide to sleep with him and fall in love with him. Because, of course that what she'd do. (NOT!!) (Still not mentioning that NO ONE WOULD HAVE LEFT HER THERE ANYWAY!!!

By the end I was frustrated and annoyed with this book. I kept waiting for the author to have some higher meaning, for the plots to truly tie together... for reading the book to have been a bit worth my time. I felt I'd been wading through a slushy, muddy marsh that had a multitude of redirect signs that took me out of the way of the main road-- but at the end, when I was at last there... FINALLY I'd get the answer I'd waited for to satisfy the curiosity that had caused me to slog through the book... Right???

NOPE!! And then, he refused to tell me- us, the readers. With some stupid sentence about the "reader using their imagination" or some such rot. (I don't have it here right now, and don't intend to look for one ever again to check, that's close enough.)

If I'd been holding a book, I'd likely have thrown it. (I was listening to my phone and didn't want to break it.) So, some creative cursing was done... for a while.

I won't be reading any more books by Mr. Helprin. ( )
  Clare_M | May 25, 2014 |
I tried. I really did. I listened to over 25 hours of the 32-hour long audiobook, and I just couldn't stand it any more. It kills me to give up on a book after getting so far, but at that point, there was no way the book could redeem itself.

This gets classified as urban fantasy and magical realism, but I don't think those labels fit. It's a tall tale. I have never liked tall tales. They exaggerate just for the sake of exaggeration, and I don't get the point. The same thing happened with this book. Lots of ridiculous things happen, lots of ridiculous extremes, but for no discernible reason. It's just a bunch of stuff that happened, and after 25 hours I couldn't find any themes, or even any plot to speak of. ( )
  Gwendydd | May 16, 2014 |
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"I have been to another world, and come back. Listen to me."
No One Knows the City Better
First words
A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan.
Winter, it was said, was the season in which time was superconductive - the season when a brittle world might shatter in the face of astonishing events, later to reform in a new body as solid and smooth as young transparent ice.
A tranquil city of good laws, fine architecture, and clean streets is like a classroom of obedient dullards, or a field of gelded bulls - whereas a city of anarchy is a city of promise.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156031191, Paperback)

New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake--orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.

Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.

Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beseiged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:25 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When master mechanic Peter Lake attempts to rob a mansion on the Upper West Side, he is caught by young Beverly Penn, the terminally ill daughter of the house, and their subsequent love sends Peter on a desperate personal journey.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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