Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale

Book - 1983
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When master mechanic Peter Lake attempts to rob a mansion on the Upper West Side, he is caught by young Beverly Penn, the terminally ill daughter of the house, and their subsequent love sends Peter on a desperate personal journey.
Publisher: Orlando : Harcourt, ©1983 (2005 printing)
ISBN: 9780156031196
0156031191
9780156001946
0156001942
Call Number: FICTION HELPRIN 2005
Characteristics: 748 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

When master mechanic Peter Lake attempts to rob a mansion on the Upper West Side, he is caught by young Beverly Penn, the terminally ill daughter of the house, and their subsequent love sends Peter on a desperate personal journey.

It's really hard to summarize the plot of this book, but let me just say that it's not easy-- it's a whole lot of book with a bazillion characters-- but it's full of pleasures: New York City, lots of snow, the power of love, time travel, terrifying turn-of-the-century mobsters. Also, some of the ... Read More »

The catalog description makes it sound kind of snoozy, (like Moby Dick would be "young man takes job on whaling boat, hijinx ensue with his whaling bros and moody boss") but my understanding is that there is TIME TRAVEL and amazing descriptions of New York in the winter. Snow and time t... Read More »


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k
kmk6500
Jul 22, 2020

Helprin makes me love love more and more. He deeply loves a woman and deeply loves a horse. The book is full of endless descriptions of love and desire with always utmost respect. I wanted to read this book in a day and savor it at the same time. I don't usually read fantasies but eventually I have to read everything this man has written.

a
AlteredStaite
Jul 07, 2020

Tossed it as narcissistic gibberish after 100 pages.
In the words of Derek on Goodreads:
"Flowery and ultimately meaningless

There are many beautifully descriptive passages, mostly of the wind & snow; the best are those concerning the magical horse Althansor. Unfortunately, there are many of them, and I found my heart beginning to sink whenever another chapter began with another beautifully descriptive passage about the wind & snow.

I never did discover a plot. The human characters came and went without any real impact, either on the story or on me, although the magical horse is characterized probably better than most. Peter Lake does span the whole novel, but he spends the final part in a daze of incomprehension which I shared. The occasional moments of drama all resolved easily and without any great surprises.

I was irritated by the wholesale dismissal of non-central characters, but it seemed I was expected to believe in the city (I am reluctant to call it New York because it is obviously not a real place) and care what happened to it.

In the end, I felt no attachment to the city, and it seemed, finally, that the author didn't either"

w
whatcomhillwalker
Jan 05, 2019

This story hooked me from the first page and kept rehooking me all through the book. There are passages and pages that had me swooning in amazement at the author's prowess. Of course I was only in about 50 pages when I started remembering I had read parts of it. That kept happening all through the book (although I don't think I actually finished it the first time). I felt like I was remembering a dream I had had in the past. The whole book feels like a dream. The magic realism and the intense emotion, the symbolism and the recurring story-lines and the concurrent storylines and the steady reality that morphs into fantasy that becomes clarity. The last 100 pages were torture to get through as all the threads are pulled together into knots that become woven together to create the ending that began on page one. I believe I could pick this one up again and re-walk the paths to the end and still be surprised by much of it.

d
dennismmiller
Oct 01, 2018

Winter's Tale is a strange story strangely told. In a New York that never was, surrounded by a hurricane-like cloud wall that partially insulates it from the outside world, there lives a white horse able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. After the horse rescues a thief named Peter Lake from the vengeful gang leader Pearly Soames, the two form an instant bond. To finance his escape from the city, Lake attempts to burgle the mansion of a wealthy newspaper publisher, only to unexpectedly encounter the publisher's lovely, dying daughter Beverly. The two fall instantly, deliriously, magically in love, a love which transcends death and reaches beyond the stars.

The narrative is broken into pieces by numerous flashbacks, subplots, digressions, and mysteries. Some of these pieces fit together better than others. Oddly, the novel Winter's Tale most resembles may be Gravity's Rainbow, only where Pynchon's work is suffused with paranoid pessimism, Helprin's sparkles with enchanted delight.

m
maryeverettwinter
Aug 06, 2018

Alice Strand's recommendaion

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 06, 2018

Peter Lake robs a NYC mansion on a snowy night, and his life is changed forever.

Library_Jill Jan 31, 2017

This book is complex tapestry that defies attempts to sum it up in a sentence or two. Even now that I have finished, I am still unable to pinpoint what the book is "about," but the story itself--with all of its strange and beautiful moments--is certainly a journey, and I am glad to have read it. The writing is poetic in that it examines the world in a new way, and finds truth, beauty, and goodness in unexpected places. I remember seeing a review that described this book as a love song to New York, and that, perhaps, comes closest to capturing the "aboutness" of this story, yet at the same time, it truly is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is this book.

JUJUNYC Mar 29, 2016

This book is nearly 500 pages, but well worth the read. It is absolutely enchanting; a mix of history, fantasy, adventure and romance. As a native New Yorker, I knew many of locations mentioned in the book. I've passed through Grand Central thousands of times as pictured on the cover. I recommend it to anyone.

blooper Aug 03, 2015

This is a magical book with aspects of a real New York City. Open your mind to its magic and it is wonderful -- both dark and light. The movie is only a shadow of the book and leaves out so much that would have made it great.

k
Kregel
Mar 20, 2015

Amazing, breathtaking, funny, sad, moving, and thoughtful. Wow, that's a mouthful. Deservedly so, as this is a book outside of labels and genres and expectations. And do yourself a favour: skip the movie.

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