Kathleen Winters luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.
In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secretthe babys parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and their trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boys female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hypermasculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as Annabel, is never entirely extinguished.
When Wayne finally escapes the confines of his hometown and settles in St. Johns, the anonymity of the city grants him the freedom to confront his dual identity. His ultimate choice will once again call into question the integrity and allegiance of those he loves most.
Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the bodys insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.
Wayne Blake was born at the beginning of March,
during the first signs of spring breakup of the ice
a time of great importance to Labradorians who hunted
ducks for food and he was born, like most children in
that place in 1968, surrounded by women his mother had
known all her married life: Joan Martin, Eliza Goudie,
and Thomasina Baikie. Women who knew how to ice-fish
and sew caribou hide moccasins and stack wood in a pile
that would not fall down in the months when their husbands
walked the traplines. Women who would know,
during any normal birth, exactly what was required.
The village of Croyden Harbour, on the southeast Labrador coast, has that magnetic earth all Labrador shares. You sense a striation, a pulse, as the land drinks light and emits a vibration. Sometimes you can see it with your naked eye, stripes of light coming off the land. Not every traveller senses it, but those who do keep looking for it in other places, and they ...
Someone famously said once that reading novels is the best way to understand the thoughts of people other than ourselves. Or something like that. Regardless, this is the biggest reason I read fiction. I am fascinated by human beings and what makes us tick. Kathleen Winters has written a remarkable book that takes the inner lives of a small family and blows the pieces apart for us to dig through and marvel at. This book will show you some of the things inside your own head, as well as making you think twice about what your family members might be feeling.
(Reviewed by Beverly Melven).
Full Review (917 words).
Labrador and Newfoundland
Annabel takes place in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province of Canada. Located on the Atlantic coast, the province is divided into the mainland area of Labrador (east and north of Quebec), and the island of Newfoundland. With a total area roughly the size of Colorado, the island of Newfoundland makes up 25% of the area and 94% of the population (approximately half a million), leaving the larger area of Labrador sparsely populated. The northern part of Labrador is above the Arctic Circle, so the climate is both polar and sub-arctic, with most of the population clustered around the coastal areas. Wayne grows up in a small village on the southeast coast of Labrador, not too far from Newfoundland.
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