A Place Called Winter

by Patrick Gale

Harry Cane, a shy man with a stutter, is living in Edwardian London with his wife and daughter, having inherited great wealth. But things quickly go wrong.

Harry loses half of his fortune, the young family has to move in with his in-laws, and then, as a result of a scandal, Harry emigrates to Canada – alone.

Once there he becomes a farmer and we learn of the hardship he endures in this wide, open, untamed landscape. It was a very tough life, particularly for someone from a privileged background who had never experienced manual work. But the gentle, thoughtful Harry is also a man of great application and commitment. He works hard and, as he seeks to turn the wild landscape into a livelihood, he meets some very strong characters, some who help him and prove valuable friends and others that try to destroy him.

This is an astonishing book. The characters are so well drawn you feel you’d recognize them if you met them in the street, and you can sense how tired they feel at the end of their day digging the land. The landscape is very real too with the colours, the intense heat and shivering cold, and the big open skies.

This is a traditional saga, of a man trying to overcome bad decisions and bad luck, to be true to himself, and to do the right thing. I didn't want it to end, and the memory of the book stayed with me for days afterwards. Wonderful!

Read my interview with Patrick Gale here.

Review date: March 2015
A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale