A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (Book Review)

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (Book Review)A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
Published by Tinder Press
Pages: 352
My Rating two-half-stars
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In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.
If you've never read a Patrick Gale, stop now and pick up this book. From the author of the bestselling NOTES FROM AN EXHIBITION comes an irresistible, searching and poignant historical novel of love, relationships, secrets and escape.

I love dramatic movies and slow reads. I find it to be a great source of escape. It is a really fun way to get away from real life and get lost in another world. That’s one of the reasons I picked up A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. The summary led me to expect a long personal narrative of the life of Harry Cane. A lot of my favorite books have read like that and I expected big things from this story. Instead, I felt let down. It was just so boring. It was a coming-of-age story gone wrong.

Major book critics rave have about this A Place Called Winter. It averaged 4.8 stars on GoodReads with over 4,700 ratings. I think it’s one of the books everyone raves about so you feel like you should love it, even if you don’t. It reached a point where I begrudgingly picked it up to read each night. I kept telling myself that it had to get better because everyone loved it. A Place Called Winter just didn’t do it for me.

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The plot was trite and characters were lackluster. I didn’t feel any connection. Normally I would have given up on a book like this but Gale is so respectable in literature that I stuck with it. There were so many times it hinted at greatness and I thought the hook was right around the corner, then it fell flat again. There were also a few moments that touched on rather adult subjects that I wish I had known about prior to reading. It would have made me reconsider picking up the book. 

What makes me feel bad about criticizing this book is knowing it’s based on the real life of Gale’s great-grandfather. I am certain that Gale was careful to pay respect to his ancestor. Perhaps that is what prevented him from unleashing the full range of emotion this book deserved. It felt like so many characters and so many scenes were held back from being as intense as they should have been.

A Place Called Winter is fine, it’s just nothing special. Then again, everyone else seems to have loved it so I could be completely off base. I just never felt a spark from it and normally I do when I read Gale’s books. He’s a great writer, I’ll read more of his releases, but this was one let me down.


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