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A place called winter by Patrick Gale
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A place called winter (edition 2015)

by Patrick Gale

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2801960,255 (4.19)31
Member:librorumamans
Title:A place called winter
Authors:Patrick Gale
Info:London : Tinder Press, 2015.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:2016

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A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

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English (18)  German (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Lightly based on the author's relative, this book tells an intriguing story of a wealthy man forced by societal norms to leave England and start his life anew as a settler in Canada. The author has done a great deal of research and it serves the novel story well. The indolence of living as a wealthy "flaneur" in England did little to prepare Cane for the hardships of Prairie life, he had zero experience with any manual labor, farming, fence building, home building, not to mention cooking, cleaning, preserving food etc, and yet he survives, indeed thrives. There is drama and tension enough to keep a reader engaged, and the historical details are part of the story line rather than a drag on the narrative. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Interesting historical story told by one man about his isolation and difficulties as he tries to set up a homestead in the Canadian West in the late 1890s Sexuality is dealt with subtually and deftly. Author has a writing style that I appeciated, not too long winded but able to describe perfectly the environment and the feelings of the caracters. Recommended. ( )
  janismack | Dec 10, 2017 |
Homesteading in Canada.
I have had several Patrick Gale books on my shelves over the years but it was not until the author attended our local Literary Festival that I finally got around to picking one up and reading it. What particularly interested me about A Place Called Winter, was that Harry Cane, the lead character, was a real man; in fact he was Gale’s great-grandfather, who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. He had been a man of leisure, so it made little sense to the family that he would up-sticks and disappear to the wilds of Canada to become a homesteader, a harsh and difficult life.

The author proposes a plausible explanation for Harry's sudden departure. Basing his narrative around what was known about Harry Cane, he smoothly interweaves known facts with fictional narrative to create a seamless picture of a young man struggling with his identity and coping with the pressures of his time.

Unfortunately I found this rather a slow read and it took me nearly a month to complete. The story itself was interesting but somehow failed to engage me, although I learnt a lot about the early colonisation of Canada and the hardships endured to create the farms that still stand today.
The descriptions of the land and its people were vivid, and I highlighted several quotes. Unfortunately my Kindle died and with it, my notes.
In spite of my slow progress, I'm glad I read this and will be investigating Patrick Gale's back-list soon. ( )
  DubaiReader | Oct 17, 2017 |
Harry Cane is the older son of a businessman who dies young and leaves a legacy that means that Harry is comfortably off in society. Harry is a shy boy, bullied at school and with a slight stammer, whereas his younger brother Jack is confident and outgoing. Through Jack, Harry meets and marries Winnie and has a daughter but Harry isn't in love with Winnie. When an ill-judged affair falls apart with threats of blackmail, Harry is forced to leave England and go seek his fortune in the wilds of Canada.

Not having read many reviews of this book and not having read the blurb that accompanies it I wasn't aware until the last chapter that this is a fictionalised work based partly on Gale's family history which makes it all the more remarkable. The story is sad and poignant, Harry can't live the life he wants to in Edwardian England and meets his soulmates in Canada. The character of Troels Munck seems to be a gothic villain but the end piece tells us he is also a real-life character. The writing is exquisite, whether talking about the restrictive society in London or the wide open prairies of Canada, and altogether this is an outstanding read. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Sensitively written, beautiful yet precise prose, seamless environmental detail, and characters who are credible, A Place Called Winter is an historical novel worth a reader's attention and time. Set in late 19th century Saskatchewan, Patrick Gale chronicles the difficult journey, both psychological and temporal, of Harry Cane (an actual ancestor of the author's).

Cane, who flees England upon threat of exposure and possible hanging for his homosexuality, leaves behind a wife and daughter to homestead in Canada. He, like so many, is lured by promises of land for the taking, of bountiful harvest, and security. Yet Cane does prevail despite flimflammery, rape, devastating illness, heartbreak and bone-shattering labour. The story is one of quiet triumph, of fluid relationships, and acceptance.

My one quibble with the story is the author's lack of experience with Canadian cold. When Cane indentures himself to a farmer in Moose Jaw, he sleeps in a shed, without heat, throughout the winter, in an area which could see temperatures plummet as low as -36C. There is a high probability he would freeze to death. And there is no mention of the difficulty of travel in winter with blizzard conditions, or of spring thaw and the sucking mud.

However, beyond that truly minor complaint, A Place Called Winter is an engaging and worthy read. Recommended. ( )
  fiverivers | May 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
added by gsc55 | editGraeme Aitken (Apr 10, 2015)
 
Harry Cane is one of many, the disappeared who were not wanted by their families or their societies and whose stories were long shrouded with shame. This fascinating novel is their elegy.
 
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Book description
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.
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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.… (more)

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