Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale

by Mark Helprin

Faith Bowers (04/08/13): I did not read this book but listened to all 22 discs while driving. It took me almost 12 weeks. I want to thank Rossandra White for her review because I would never have ordered it from my library. I really enjoyed many parts of the book which both Cassandra and Dale describe beautifully. I enjoyed most of the story and after meeting Virgina and her story then I knew all of the stories would come together. I love the Lake of the Coheries.(spelling?, only audio). Because it is a magical book, dates were not very important only that A Winter's Tale spanned over 100 years. I give it a 4 because the last section, around the turn of the millenium was not as well written and seemed to lose it's way. I enjoyed listening and the reader was excellent.
Rating: ****

Dale Israel (03/31/13): A Winter's Tale touched my soul more than any book I've ever read and that's saying a lot. I absolutely loved this book and I know it will stay with me for years to come. And yet, I can honestly say this story isn't for everyone. Read the reviews on Amazon, you'll see it's very polarizing. As much as I loved this book I do understand why some people wouldn't. For one thing, it's a long, difficult read. It took me 2 months to finish this nearly 800 paged book but some of that was because I wanted to savor the journey (and it was indeed a journey.) The author at times was very verbose-- where was his editor? However, Helprin is an extremely gifted writer who took my breath away with many of his descriptions. I frequently read and re-read passages and was blown away with the picture the author was able to paint with words.

 There were numerous story lines--almost like a series of short stories--and just when I got hooked on one story, the author seamlessly transitioned to a different one. Although frustrating, most of the stories eventually did intersect with each other. Finally, much of the book incorporated magical realism which I found absolutely fascinating but may not be everyone's cup of tea. For example, a woman prefers to sleep under furs on her rooftop during the dead of winter in New York; a white fog sweeps the living to the world beyond; a stallion gallops down the streets of New York with magical abilities. This book transformed my life and I'd love to hear what others have to say about it!
Rating: *****

Dale Israel (01/24/13): I just wanted to thank Rossandra for reviewing Winter's Tale last week. After breaking my wrist last November, I simply haven't been able to concentrate. I wanted to read to escape the pain but couldn't focus... until now. This book is amazing. I still have a long way to go but had to thank Rossandra for helping me re-gain my sanity. Full review to follow.
Rating: *****

Rossandra White (01/07/13): I read Winter's Tale by Mark Halprin (1983) over the holidays, all 768 pages. This is a visionary story of the beauty and complexity inherent in the human soul, about God, love, death and justice and the power of dreams, those that take place while we sleep and those we conceive while awake. As I read this book, I found myself lifted above some emotionally rough patches I was experiencing. It was the sheer scope of it all, which to me translated to a much greater concept of what the mainline consciousness believes to be reality, albeit in an ungrounded fantastical way, like this passage: ". . . but now with the blessing, amnesty, and encouragement that good climbers requisition from the thin air, he ascended a nearly sheer column in the interior of the Grand Central Terminal."

The story takes place in a mythic New York City near the turn of the 20th century, in an industrial Victorian era style and opens with a tiny isolated quote three-quarters of the way down the first page: "I have been to another world, and come back. Listen to me."

When asked if the book could be called magic realism, Mark Halprin responded that it is a s much as the Bible can be called magic realism. Intriguing. Everything about this book defies anything I've read before.

Here's a short summary from Amazon:

"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."

Rating: *****

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