Winter (2012) Pick: Annabel



Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Following description from Chapters

Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and the Rogers Writers” Trust Fiction PrizeIn 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once.Only three people are privy to the secret – the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self – a girl he thinks of as “Annabel” – is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.Haunting, sweeping in scope, and stylistically reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides” Middlesex, Annabel is a compelling tale about one person”s struggle to discover the truth about their birth and self in a culture that shuns contradiction.


I enjoyed this book more for the wide-ranging discussion it inspired in book club than the book itself.  I thought the concept was very intriguing and was excited to read this critically acclaimed novel – but I was a bit disappointed in what I found within.  The novel started out strong in all the usual areas – plot, characterization, writing style – however I found the plot and the characters faltering in the end.  Whereas some reviewers have said they found it refreshing that Winter didn’t “tie up the ending in a neat bow”, I found that the end of the novel languished until it eventually just died.  It seemed as if maybe the author herself didn’t know where to end the story.

Overall, a better-than-average read and worth seeking out at the library.