"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Book Review

In the last few weeks, a short story grabbed me by the throat and said, TELL ME OR ELSE! If I am lucky, this will not happen again any time soon; even better luck for you too, I expect ;-).  Anyway, enough preamble…

In the middle of that time when I was writing, the library called to inform me that a book I had requested had arrived: Annabel, by Kathleen Winter.

I loved it and therefore recommend it to you all.

Kathleen Winter has created a world perfect for the exploration of a set of issues dear to our hearts; a life that crosses gender boundaries. Her setting is a small Labrador village, where the inhabitants’  yearly cycle of hunting, fishing, birthing, etc. are predictable and ultimately mind-numbingly boring, and yet this book is neither of these.

Beginning with the birth of Wayne/Annabel, a true hermaphrodite, lives are turned upside down for a while, and then settle down as much as possible, with predictable and some not so predictable undercurrents.

Winter's portrayal of events in and around Wayne's life is sensitive, but the events themselves have a harsh ring of truth for those who have been under siege by gender conflict. The scenes of school and childhood peers are particularly well fleshed with believable, not stereotypical characters. I found myself caring about many of the people who inhabit this world.

Annabel is a story more than anything else about people and their ability to survive in situations that are harsh physically and psychologically. It is a book I will read again in the future, because I know there will be more insights in the retelling.

Annabel, a novel
by Kathleen Winter
Published this year by House of Anansi Press Inc.,
Toronto, Canada


  1. Thanks for the tip Halle, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for it.

    Melisa XX

  2. Halle, I read Annabel when it first came out. I was going to write a review, but I never did.

    I loved the book. I cried buckets through the first several chapters, and then a few times later. But still, I loved the story, and I loved the way Winter told it.

    I wonder if it's been published outside Canada yet.

  3. A good question Veronica. I just checked, and according to Google Sites, "Her novel Annabel was published in June 2010 by House of Anansi Press, and is slated for release in early 2011 with Jonathan Cape in London and Grove Atlantic/Black Cat in New York. Bompiani and Matar have bought Italian and Hebrew rights."

  4. Thanks for the tip Halle, it is on my list for the book store tomorrow.


  5. Halle, Thank you for this review of my book. It means a lot to me that you feel the way you do about the story.

  6. I just heard that Kathleen's book has been short-listed for the Giller Prize!

    If you get this comment in a forward from your comment, congratulations! I will be waiting patiently on November 9th, with high hopes for you!