The Winter Vault

The Winter Vault

Book - 2009
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In 1964, Jean and Avery Escher, a newly married Canadian couple, settle into a houseboat on the Nile while Avery oversees the building of the Aswam dam. When they suffer a tragedy, they return to Toronto and separate only to try to find their way back to each other.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2009
ISBN: 9780771058905
077105890X
Branch Call Number: FIC Micha 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 341 p

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AnneDromeda Mar 24, 2011

<p>Oh my. I love Anne Michaels' writing, I really do. I don't think there's anyone else currently writing who crafts a more beautiful sentence than she does. And that's why I finished this book - the writing was unbelievable.</p>

<p>I can't say I really loved this book, though... Read More »

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wendybird Jun 15, 2009

Lush, lyrical, poetic - as one would expect from Michaels...not a light read, so set a good chunk aside to "get into" the text. Interesting plotline on top of the sensual settings, & descriptions: newly married engineer and his bride are stationed in Egypt & Sudan to oversee the... Read More »


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spacecat
May 30, 2014

It seemed like several stories that had been contrived to blend, not very smoothly, into one. A big chunk that never blended in for me was the detailed story of the Eastern European artist colony living on the edges of Toronto society, having sex and idyllic skating parties. What? The author critical of both the St. Lawrence Seaway project and the United Nations sponsored Abu Simbel temple relocation project. Yes in hindsight. But documents from those times laud both as great engineering achievements. The author does not bother to capture any of the flavour of achievement surrounding both projects (40 nations issued postage stamps of Abu Simbel in the 1960s) and views them both through entirely modern lenses, even when the characterization is taking place in the past.

u
uncommonreader
Jul 27, 2012

Ponderous and unreadable.

w
Wendy1953
May 09, 2012

Brilliant writing, as only Anne Michaels can create. Having experienced the flooding of the Lost Villages to the creation on the St. Lawrence Seaway, this novel so beautifully expresses those haunting feelings of my youth.

n
Nicky_Trudell
Oct 20, 2011

too heavy

graphiste Jun 22, 2011

This goes on my list as one my all time favourites. It's a difficult book to describe: a tale of enduring love, grief and loss, but also a narration of two monumental engineering projects of modern times - the Aswan Dam and the St. Lawrence Seaway - and the enormous displacement of populations that resulted. Michaels prose reads like poetry - a quilt of brief vignettes stitched together with heart-wrenchingly beautiful language. The characters are real and complex - not meant for readers looking for tidy resolutions.

debwalker Apr 02, 2011

The story begins in 1964, with a Canadian couple living in a houseboat on the Nile River, where he is an engineer helping to move the temple of Abu Simbel above the rising waters south of the Aswan Dam. A tragedy takes them back to Toronto, where they separate, until the woman finds new love with a Polish refugee artist.

AnneDromeda Mar 24, 2011

<p>Oh my. I love Anne Michaels' writing, I really do. I don't think there's anyone else currently writing who crafts a more beautiful sentence than she does. And that's why I finished this book - the writing was unbelievable.</p>

<p>I can't say I really loved this book, though - I kept getting hung up on how much I didn't really like Jean. I could sympathize with her, sure, but she's just so <i>sentimental</i>. I mean, did she do anything other than cry at Avery for their first several dates? Over what? And then she leaves him and spends some time screwing around with another guy whose life puts her emotional baggage in some perspective, and Avery just waits around? <i>Seriously?</i></p>

<p>I had this friend in high school who kept dating the same jerk who cheated on her, and every time it happened she'd react as though she'd lost everything. One day, on the 108th retelling of her woes, my right foot flew out <i>completely involuntarily</i> and kicked her in the shin. I just couldn't take it anymore. And you know? This book gave me the same feeling of senseless futility. I wanted to kick Jean in the shin. I really did.</p>

<p>That said, the research done for this book is top-notch, so readers wishing to be whisked away to Egypt or Eastern Ontario can save themselves some time and money if they pick up <i>The Winter Vault</i> instead. And it was kind of interesting to read a book in which the tortured anti-hero all the others lust after is a woman, rather than the surly man-child artist that populates so much of our fiction shelves. I certainly don't regret the time I spent with this book, and I suspect that readers with more patience and tolerance for self-defeatist people will find Jean likable and even interesting. Don't let my misgivings hold you back - <i>The Winter Vault</i> is a lyrical masterpiece built on a flawless research process, and does deserve your time.</p>

l
Lindsaybanfield
Dec 30, 2010

I enjoyed this book especially after I got through the first half. The first half seems unnecessarily disjointed and also hard to follow as a narrative. The second half was much more interesting. The characters Jean and her new boyfriend were very interesting. I liked their creative activities that they participated in. Did not find the relationship of Avery and Jean to be compelling at all. Very sad in parts.

c
Carolyne
Oct 27, 2010

Probably the dullest, most boring book I have ever finished. I only finished it because it is a selection for my book club.

I wanted to stop after 50 pages.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens to the people in the book that is interesting. I never cared at all about any of them.

Save your time and read something good.

p
PhyllisMargaret
Aug 27, 2010

Story evolves around the building of the Answan Dam, and the St Lawrence Seaway.

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lisahiggs
May 07, 2010

We have imprisoned space between what we have built: waste space too narrow for anything but litter, dark walkways from carparks to the street; the endless, dead space of underground garages; the corridors between skyscrapers; the space surrounding industrial rubbish bins and ventilator shafts … the built world has created a despair of space, like seeds of futility, small pockets on the earth where no one is meant to be alive.

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vickiz
Aug 18, 2009

It is our displacement that binds us.

v
vickiz
Aug 14, 2009

What a blessed life, to live in such a way that our choices would be the same, even on the last day.

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