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The Winter Vault Hardcover – Mar 31 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1st Edition edition (March 31 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077105890X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771058905
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #254,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Profound loss, desolation and rebuilding are the literal and metaphoric themes of Michaels's exquisite second novel (after Fugitive Pieces)…. A tender love story set against an intriguing bit of history is handled with uncommon skill."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Has it been worth the wait? It has. . . . Anne Michaels, in short, is back. "
—  Globe and Mail

"A tender love story set against an intriguing bit of history is handled with uncommon skill."
—  Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A major achievement. . . . "
—  NOW magazine (Four Ns)

"Literature is all the better for it."
—  The New York Times

"The anticipation, more than a decade in the building, has been eager, the recent buzz intense. And if McClelland & Stewart sees The Winter Vault, its new novel from Anne Michaels, as the publishing event of the season, there is vibrant and compelling justification. . . . "
—  Ottawa Citizen

About the Author

Anne Michaels’s first novel was the award-winning, internationally bestselling Fugitive Pieces. Its prizes include a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Award, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is also the author of three highly acclaimed poetry collections. She lives in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Hatherly on June 7 2009
Format: Hardcover
The first half of the book was excellent. The linking of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Nile projects (and the impact on people's lives) was a brilliant idea and the love story of Avery and Jean well done.

But in the second half of the book, too many characters are introduced and the flowery text is hard to follow and frustrating. I slogged through the second half of the book. Overall, disappointing due to the book's annoying second half.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Katy Jurado on May 17 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love Fugitive Pieces and was so looking forward to Anne Michaels' next book. In the event I am sad to say that I found it barely readable. I did follow it to the end for the occasional flashes of her poetic brilliance, but it was very hard work.

The novel groans under the weight of excess research baggage. Erudite stuff is poured in without discrimination: Egypt, Canada, Nubia, England, Poland, Germany, botany, architecture, structural engineering, child birth, and more. Moreover the narrative jumps around confusingly in place and time.
I like serious novels and weighty themes, but light and shade help to convey nuance. Here there is no light, apart from the over-precious ramblings of characters recalling their childhoods. And there is no light in love either: 'happiness means suffering' is a dictum that is specifically spelt out.
Unremitting seriousness is the tone and the preciousness of the lead characters becomes unintentionally comic. A dirge in music can contain subtle notes, but it is still a dirge, and this novel is an epic dirge.

Katy Jurado
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ed in Toronto on June 6 2010
Format: Paperback
I guess that I can see why not everyone loves this novel, in that this is not a strongly narrative work, but I found it powerful and moving, a book that tells me much about loss and its relationship to place. I strongly recommend it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J on May 17 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved Fugitive Pieces, but did not like this book. Yes, her writing is beautiful, poetic, etc. I appreciate that. Although I am not an expert, I'm fairly certain a novel still requires a plot. In addition to a absent plot, this novel also lacked believable characters, reasonable dialogue (seriously, who talks like that?!), engaging action, and any semblance of humor or whit. I made it through, and was so relieved when it was over.
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By Margaret Jones on July 9 2010
Format: Paperback
If you like lyrical and highly descriptive writing, this is for you. The descriptions sometimes are too long almost as if the author is in love with the sound of the prose and not the content. Also the author has had much research done and wants to use it all.
The book is in 3 sections which have little to do with each other so it could possibly have been split into 3 short stories.
Didn't see much of the male character Avery who as an engineer in crisis could have been extremely interesting.

If you want a long slow summer read, then enjoy this book
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 27 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not many authors would have the boldness to connect three completely unrelated examples of engineering ingenuity in three different continents under one thematic arc, however complex and multilayered. Anne Michaels has done just that in her new, long awaited second novel, THE WINTER VAULT. Michaels' passion is, however, less focused on the impressive visible results of these engineering achievements - the Aswan Dam in Egypt, the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada and the post-World War II reconstruction of Warsaw's Old City - and centred more on the people who have been involved in these constructions or those who have been impacted by the resulting changes. In rich poetic prose, the author interweaves the intimate experiences and musings of her protagonists with broad societal questions and her own philosophical reflections.

The story begins in 1964 when the ancient Abu Simbel temple complex in Upper Egypt needed to be carved up and moved block by block, through a complicated process, to higher ground, to protect it from the impending flood waters of the dam. Avery Escher, a British engineer, is overseeing this delicate operation. His relevant experience stems from his training through his father during the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Avery is a practical, forward looking man, who can only imagine positive change emerging from such major redesigning efforts. His young wife Jean, having grown up in this region of Canada, had a different perspective on the project, and as a result is less convinced of the potential benefits of change for the affected people. She is also concerned with the need to preserve what was there, such as the local flora and fauna.

What brought those two very different people together, other than some parallel aspects in their personal lives?
Read more ›
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