June Book Club - A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

I am so sorry to be flaky about the other books then breeze in to lead a book, but I've not been finding the other books in the local charity shops or library, and this one I own on Kindle as I read it a few years ago.

The June Book Club book is A Place Called Winter (2015) by Patrick Gale. It's a fascinating story, the story of Harry Cane's life in both Edwardian England, and following his move to Canada, as a homesteader, part of the early settling of Sasketchewan, where Winter is a real place. Digging around for reviews, most have spoilers, like this one from Patrick Gale's website. There's a lot of geographical and historical content which I found engaging as I was interested in the wider picture surrounding Harry.

We read Notes from an Exhibition (2007) by the same author some years ago and I remember that one being enjoyed by everyone.

A Place Called Winter was shortlisted for several prizes and was the subject of Radio 4's Bookclub in March 2018 - warning lots of spoilers in that podcast - it's a discussion between the author and readers of the book.

Usual questions from the 20th of the month.

Comments

  • MiliMili Shipmate
    My library seems to be aligning with the book club choices, so I will join in again this month. I'm over a third of the way through the book and finding it interesting though tense, so am reading it in small sections.
  • It's not an easy read - unlike my usual more frivolous suggestions for August.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I've downloaded it and will start this evening. The premise sounds interesting, so I'm looking forward to it.
  • DormouseDormouse Shipmate
    I loved this book, as I have loved all Patrick Gale's books. I hope others enjoy it as much as I did.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I think I've got the time for this one, so will download it right away.

    I know Saskatchewan very well - I spent twelve happy years there - and the winters can indeed be pretty bleak; but, oh, the blissful hot summer days and the long, lingering fall afternoons, with the maple trees all blazing scarlet!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I am enjoying this book. I'm about halfway through, up to page 190. It's at the library, and I'm going there every day and sitting for an hour to read about fifty pages. I could just borrow it and take it home, but it's a big heavy hardback, and it's kind of fun going to the library each day - I walk there through the woods.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I'm a little past half-way, and it's quite an entertaining read, though the frequent geographical and historical bloopers do rather get in the way. Did the author actually do any research at all? AT ALL???
  • Apparently - according to his website - but I don't know Saskatchewan to know any better.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Apparently - according to his website - but I don't know Saskatchewan to know any better.

    Looking at a simple historical map of Canada would have avoided a lot of the howlers. It just goes to show that you shouldn't write about things unless you know something about them or are seriously willing to find out.

    It's a shame because the story itself is a good one, and getting the history and geography right wouldn't have had any implications for the plot as far as I can see so far.
  • His stories about Cornwall are great, and accurate, which is more familiar to me. And I did refer to the maps in the book, but not beyond, when I read it.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I've finished it, and enjoyed it. I like a story that is well told and moves along at a pace. I can't comment on bloopers, but I got the feel that he'd read a bit about Edwardian times as there seemed to be rather a few references dropped in to show that he had done his reading.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I’m curious now to know what the inaccuracies are. I’m nearly finished reading it - about 65 pages to go. I don’t have in-depth knowledge of Canadian history, but I lived in Canada for a few years in my 20s, and even though that is obviously much later than the setting of the novel, I found I could relate to the descriptions of the vastness, the sameness, of the prairies, and also a bit of the culture difference as a Brit, a different, tougher, more survival-based set of values, even now it’s very developed. The extremes of weather, the dangers they pose, and being warned about the foolishness of going out in a blizzard. And some of what is described about the difficulties of homesteading in the prairies seems similar to what various Canadian friends told me about their grandparents. And attitudes to the Aboriginal Canadians seemed accurate - still such attitudes when I was there. I never went to Moose Jaw but heard it mentioned a lot.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Let's just start with something that isn't even Canadian! He takes the train to Liverpool from King's Cross. Now, he could conceivably have travelled from Paddington to Birkenhead and taken the ferry over the Mersey, but the usual and fastest route was - and still is - from Euston, by what then would have been the London and North Western Railway and is now - God help us - Virgin Trains. Trains from Kings Cross would have taken him nowhere near Liverpool - that's the line to York and Edinburgh.

    So why put in the wrong detail when if he couldn't be bothered to check it he could have just left it out altogether?

    I have no trouble - oddly, perhaps - with writers who mess with geography or history for the sake of the plot, but putting in wrong information for no reason at all gets me more than a little cross.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Ah, okay, thanks. I guess I'm fortunate that bloopers like that don't make me cross or spoil my enjoyment of a book - they can be fun to spot, but I do read more for the characterisation and the story. I find all historical novels have me thinking 'But it wouldn't be quite like that' to some extent.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    Ah, okay, thanks. I guess I'm fortunate that bloopers like that don't make me cross or spoil my enjoyment of a book - they can be fun to spot, but I do read more for the characterisation and the story. I find all historical novels have me thinking 'But it wouldn't be quite like that' to some extent.

    I'm afraid it's the editor in me coming out!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I finished reading it today. It's definitely a book I would read again. I want to read some more of Patrick Gale's novels now.
  • Tree BeeTree Bee Shipmate
    Patrick Gale was interviewed by Graham Norton on his Radio 2 programme on Saturday morning. I was driving unfamiliar roads at the time so didn’t hear it all but he did say he was embarrassed by the errors in this book. The one I recall him talking about was that the prairies at that time weren’t covered by crops. Might be worth finding online if you’re interested. I think it was about 12.30 so 2 1/2 hours into the programme.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Tree Bee wrote: »
    Patrick Gale was interviewed by Graham Norton on his Radio 2 programme on Saturday morning. I was driving unfamiliar roads at the time so didn’t hear it all but he did say he was embarrassed by the errors in this book. The one I recall him talking about was that the prairies at that time weren’t covered by crops. Might be worth finding online if you’re interested. I think it was about 12.30 so 2 1/2 hours into the programme.

    How interesting! Thanks for that.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Thanks for flagging up that interview @Tree Bee . It's 1.30 into the programme and very interesting. I think I'll be reading some more of his books.
  • Tree BeeTree Bee Shipmate
    Ah, a bit earlier than I thought.
    I know we were heading towards Banbury but that doesn’t help with iPlayer.
    Sarasa wrote: »
    Thanks for flagging up that interview @Tree Bee . It's 1.30 into the programme and very interesting. I think I'll be reading some more of his books.

Sign In or Register to comment.