October 18, 2011

Annabel - Kathleen Winter


Annabel was, in my view deservedly so, shortlisted for this years Orange Prize for Fiction, a prize eventually won by The Tiger's Wife (again, a book I thought definitely deserved to be there). It is also one of those books that has been languishing in my "To Be Blogged About" pile so I fear this will be less of a review and more of a reflection on my feelings about the book.
To put it simply - I loved it. It was a challenging book in many respects, content and style being up there but I felt that Winter held the reader's hand (and not in a patronising way) as she leads us through her vision for this book.
The book starts in 1968 in the remote coastal community of Labrador in the far north-east of Canada. Like Sarah Moss in Night Waking Winter does a brilliant job of setting the scene of a remote and isolated landscape which is so important for the story. In this community Jacinta Blake gives birth to her first baby, a baby that has no clear male or female sexual organs. Jacinta and her husband, Treadway, make a decision to raise their baby as a boy - Wayne -  but, particularly for Jacinta, there are always flashes of the little girl Wayne might have been. As Wayne reaches puberty his body starts to change in ways which awaken his dreams and thoughts about who he is, and his place in his family and his community.
I found this to be an amazing book, thought provoking and beautiful - I am definitely looking forward to Winter's next piece of fiction.

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