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Death Stalks Kettle Street
John Bowen

Homesteading in Canada.

A Place Called Winter - Patrick Gale

I have had several Patrick Gale books on my shelves over the years but it was not until the author attended our local Literary Festival that I finally got around to picking one up and reading it. What particularly interested me about A Place Called Winter, was that Harry Cane, the lead character, was a real man; in fact he was Gale’s great-grandfather, who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. He had been a man of leisure, so it made little sense to the family that he would up-sticks and disappear to the wilds of Canada to become a homesteader, a harsh and difficult life.

 

The author proposes a plausible explanation for Harry's sudden departure. Basing his narrative around what was known about Harry Cane, he smoothly interweaves known facts with fictional narrative to create a seamless picture of a young man struggling with his identity and coping with the pressures of his time.

 

Unfortunately I found this rather a slow read and it took me nearly a month to complete. The story itself was interesting but somehow failed to engage me, although I learnt a lot about the early colonisation of Canada and the hardships endured to create the farms that still stand today.
The descriptions of the land and its people were vivid, and I highlighted several quotes. Unfortunately my Kindle died and with it, my notes.
In spite of my slow progress, I'm glad I read this and will be investigating Patrick Gale's back-list soon.