“We regularly hear that progress entails loss. Canadian writer Anne Michaels has spent the last decade or so honing this generality into a particular of penetrating point and poetic reflection. Piercing the mental callus we grow around any dinned-in truth, her new novel, The Winter Vault abducts the imagination and breaks the heart . . . Rendingly, [these characters] are her troubled witnesses and illuminated voices.”
—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
Award-winning poet and novelist Anne Michaels gives us a love story of extraordinary depth and complexity, a mesmerizing tale that juxtaposes historical events with the most intimate moments of individual lives.
In 1964, a newly married Canadian couple settles into a Nile River houseboat moored below the towering figures of Abu Simbel. Avery is one of the engineers responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of the temple as it’s rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. He is a “machine-worshipper,” yet exquisitely sensitive to the dichotomy of creation and destruction of which machines are capable. Jean is a botanist by avocation and passion, interested in everything that grows. They had met on the banks of the St. Lawrence River and watched together as the construction of the seaway changed the course of the river and swallowed towns, homes, lives. Now, at the edge of another world about to be lost forever, Avery and Jean create their own world, exchanging the “moments that are the mortar of our days, innocent memories we don’t know we hold until given the gift of the eagerness of another.”
But that gift will not be enough to bind them when tragedy strikes, and they will go back to separate lives in Toronto. Avery returns to school to study architecture, and Jean enters the life of Lucjan, a Polish émigré artist. Lucjan’s haunting stories of occupied Warsaw draw Jean further and further away from Avery. But, in time, he will also offer her the chance for forgiveness, consolation, and, finally, her own, most essential life.
Stunning in its explorations of both the physical and emotional worlds of its characters, intensely moving and lyrical, The Winter Vault is a radiant work of fiction.
About Anne Michaels: Anne Michaels is the author of three highly acclaimed poetry collections: The Weight of Oranges (1986), which won the Commonwealth Prize for the Americas; Miner’s Pond (1991), which received the Canadian Authors Association Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Award (these two volumes were published in a single-volume edition in 1997); and Skin Divers (1999). Fugitive Pieces (1996) is Anne Michaels’ multi-award-winning, internationally bestselling first novel. In Canada, it was #1, and on the national bestseller list for more than two years. The literary prizes the novel has garnered to date are: In Canada, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award; the City of Toronto Book Award; the Martin & Beatrice Fischer Award; the Trillium Book Award; and an Award of Merit from Heritage Toronto. In the U.K., the Guardian Fiction Award; the Jewish Quarterly Prize for Fiction; and the Orange Prize for Fiction. In the U.S., the Harold Ribalow Award and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. And in Italy, Giuseppe Acerbi Literary Award.