Monday, November 22, 2010

The Winter Vault | Anne Michaels

I love Michaels’ writing. She has a wonderful way with words and images stay indelibly in my mind. In this novel a young Canadian couple Avery and Jean who meet on the banks of the St Lawrence river, embark on a journey to Egypt. They live in a houseboat moored on the Nile close to where Avery is overseeing the dismantling of the temple of Abu Simberl and its reconstruction further downriver. Jean is a botanist by vocation and passion and observes the transition of the historical monument and the environmental changes brought about by the building of the dam with mixed emotions.

The descriptions of the landscape, the heat and the people are gorgeous and we get a sense of the desert's beauty. The marriage begins to unravel after the loss of a child and there is a huge sense of sadness and pathos as they return to separate lives in Toronto. They long for healing and yet are torn apart by the death of their baby. The story shifts to an affair Jean has with a Polish artist and Avery begins architecture school. We meet more characters who are beautifully drawn. 

I loved this book because Michaels puts together beautiful sentences, uses words carefully and is evocative in her writing. She also really 'gets' people and translates their emotions well into a story. This is a beautiful book!
She is also the author of Fugitive Pieces which has been made into a great film. 
The Winter Vault
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