Annabel

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Annabel

by Kathleen Winter

House Of Anansi Press Inc | April 6, 2013 | Trade Paperback

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A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and a #1 national bestseller, Kathleen Winter's spectacular debut novel is now available in a new edition.

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self - a girl he thinks of as "Annabel" - is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.

Haunting and sweeping in scope, Annabel is an unforgettable novel about a one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 480 pages, 7.75 × 5 × 1.12 in

Published: April 6, 2013

Publisher: House Of Anansi Press Inc

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1770893342

ISBN - 13: 9781770893344

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Detailed in description Our diverse book club gave Annabel an average rating of 4 as we had those who really enjoyed reading it and others who found it tough to get through. In discussion it was mentioned how the details truly brought you to the place and you could envision the actual surroundings in certain scenes, be it Labrador in general or the "fort" that Wayne and Wally spend their time in. I especially enjoyed the peacefulness of Treadway and strength of Thomasina who even in error wanted to support Wayne. We would have liked to see more of Jacinta but it seems that character would have lost sight of things whether she had a hermaphrodite child or not...she was isolated physically by where she lived but spiritually and emotionally. Her husband found peace in nature and because their way of life sent him away it kept him grounded...he definitely was redeemed for any poor choices by the end of the book. Any child who learns they are different in such an enormous way will experience hardship but the main character seems to have found a way to start making choices. Wayne accepts that Annabel is a part of him at this stage in his life; this may or may not change over time. Where is Annabel now? We believe she is still with Wayne, who is Wayne to those who know him and Annabel and Wayne both to those who love him.
Date published: 2014-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strange subject, but loved the characters and their inner workings.... It is a story you are not expecting...you meet Treadway and Jacinta and their baby. But there is a secret about their baby that they only know and the midwife, Thomasina. As the child grows up and is unknown to its secret, it pulls on Jacinta and her relationship with her husband, Treadway. Yet, Treadway tries to understand the child, but confronts challenges with their relationship. The child has a close relationship with Thomasina and she tries to challenge and engage the child. But later circumstances unfold and the secret is not a secret anymore. But as the child, become themselves, they search and see where they must belong in their world. Lovely descriptives of the landscape of Labrador and the character's internal thinking. Enjoyed!
Date published: 2014-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The book of the season Annabel by Kathleen Winters “Have you read Annabel?” is the question I keep overhearing this summer. Written by a Montrealer, set in Labrador and about male/female roles as exemplified by hermaphrodism, this book has qualities to interest a large audience. There is also the wisdom and sensitivity of the author, her love and knowledge of life in Labrador, her understanding of children and teenagers, her quest for the best in people, her full characterizations and her interesting questions about the dichotomy and harmony of the sexes which make this book the read of the season. This is the second book that I have read about hermaphrodism and I found it more reflective, focused and sensitive than Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Annabel makes us think about the sublimated side in all of us, our sex role models and expectations, and provokes the question of whether there is a middle way which would incorporate the best traits of both sexes. Annabel is a first novel and some of its bones do show through. The symbolism of bridges becomes laboured after a while and the friend and teacher, Thomasina, is too evidently a deus ex machina figure. I find that she comes in and out of the action too fortuitously and impermanently and her role becomes plot-turning rather than characterization. I was also disappointed that Winter was unable to sustain the character of Jacinta. She is a strong figure early in the narrative and embraces the fullness and opportunities of her child’s potential. But Winters does not seem able to find a niche for her as Thomasina and Treadway become more influential in plot development. Winter’s interest shifts to the complexities of Treadway who is a master of woodland lore and an auto-didact of considerable depth. His character experiences the most growth as he denies, struggles, and finally accepts and supports his son’s sexual duality. Winter’s prose is a delight to read. She tells her story with details that are restrained and evocative and have the ring of truth. As Jacinta’s marriage falters under the stress of Wayne’s challenges, we read: (p.163) “Jacinta swept the floors and wiped the counters, then got a bucket of red-hot water with Pine-Sol in it and a mop, and scoured the kitchen floor and hallway. She dumped the water down the toilet and filled the bucket again, then put rubber gloves on and took a rag and a scrubbing brush and got down on her knees on an old flat cushion and washed every speck of dirt out of the corners and of the baseboards, then she washed down the stairs by hand, and polished the toaster and the fridge, and washed the fingerprints off the walls near all the light switches and off the doors near the doorknobs and off the telephone. She went outside and then came in again to smell with a fresh nose how clean the house smelled, and then she got in bed beside sleeping Treadway and thought how good it would be when he went on his trapline, how there would be fewer footprints to clean.” Another time, the lonely Jacinta explains why she enjoys listening to the radio: (p.93) “I know it’s not real company, but the radio is something. It’s a comforting voice that lets you know you’re not alone in the world. I need that.” We hear more truth from Treadway as he tries to give his son some fatherly advice:(p.103) “ Boys, in Labrador, Wayne, are like a wolf pack. We’ve got to be like members of the dog family. We’ve got to know what each other is doing. That’s how you survive.” Winter’s descriptions are sharply observed and cleverly incorporated into the narrative by including the characters’ response to them. When Wayne moves, on his own, to St. John’s, NFLD, we read: (p.316) “He could smell the ocean in a different way than he had smelled it in Labrador. Sewage ran into the harbour here, and there was a lot of it, with gulls circling over the outlet down below Caine’s Grocery, and you could smell it. There were also smells of seaweed, and fish and chips and vinegar from a van on the street. The houses were much brighter yellows, reds and greens than in Labrador, and they were tall and narrow and stuck together. The houses looked bright but stern, and the air was so clear the colours shouted out loud at him, and he felt weary from the force of all the corners and the sharp lines of the clapboard.” Winter ends her book optimistically with the hope that Wayne will find his niche in academia where study and ideas and open-mindedness are more important than sexual divisions. And she gives her character that greatest of gifts: a true friend. She leaves her readers with a new appreciation of the distant land of Labrador, some memorable characters, and a story that is fresh, challenging and a delight to read. Read more of my reviews at esthersbookreviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2014-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read this book! I loved this book. It was a wonderful heartfelt story. A joy to read.
Date published: 2014-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wondrously evocative! The spare prose and stark landscape are effective in bringing the reader to the time, place, and emotions that fill the pages. The four main characters are drawn with compassionate strokes, and give the reader rich food for thought. I will continue to carry Wayne/Annabel within me, like a personal memory.
Date published: 2014-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wayne or Annabel In a remote village in Labrador a child is born a hermaphrodite. When the doctors decide that the child should be raised as a boy because of the measurement of the penis, his outer female sex organs are removed. Jacinta & Treadway (the child's parents) struggle with the identity of their child (Wayne) almost as much as Wayne does. This story is the journey that Wayne takes with his female shadow self Annabel. This story is beautifully written, the characters very likable, and the setting of Labrador and St. John's described very vividly. I felt as if the lifestyle of these eastern areas of Canada were captured accurately. A novel about sexual identity,struggles, family dynamics, and life in rural Labrador make this novel a very compelling read. I especially loved the way the book was ended. Not tied up in a pretty bow but everyone in transition. My only issue with this novel was Jacinta's character. It seemed she fell off the face of the earth and she was a major character. All in all I still still loved this story and would recommend it .
Date published: 2014-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting, Lyrical Read about a taboo subject In 1968, a baby was born to Jacinta and Treadway Blake. This takes place in a remote town in Labrador. The baby is born a hermaphrodite. Only the parents and one trusted neighbour are aware of the situation. The father wishes to raise him as a boy - Wayne Blake. His mother wishes to secretly embrace his female side - Annabel. As time goes on - Wayne realizes slowly and subtley that somehow he does not feel comfortable in his body. At times I felt that the story could have proceeded at a faster pace - but that slow pace is part of the magic and feeling of Labrador, I suspect. One gets a real feel for Labrador in days gone by - and at times the prose is nearly lyrical. Though a slow moving book in places - the story does move along through Wayne's school days, high school days -and further. The story is also a study of what makes us female or what makes us male - and what we have in common with both sexes. The ending is most satisfying - at least for me - though no defiinite answers are found. A very readable book, another wonderful look into Canadian living-and a most interesting topic for a book to delve into. I highly reccomend this wonderful read! This book is short listed for the Giller Prize. I think it has earned it's place and I hope it wins the Giller Prize.
Date published: 2014-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Novel What an incredible novel. This book centres around the life of Jacinta and her husband and her child. The setting is in Labrador. After finding out that the baby that Jacinta has just given birth to is a hermaphrodite, the parents must decide whether to raise the child as a boy or girl. Although at times I found the book was quite wordy, which made it bog down at times nontheless the reader is compelled to keep reading to find out how the story is going to end up. I loved this book, could not put it down and highly recommend it.
Date published: 2014-04-27

– More About This Product –

Annabel

by Kathleen Winter

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 480 pages, 7.75 × 5 × 1.12 in

Published: April 6, 2013

Publisher: House Of Anansi Press Inc

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1770893342

ISBN - 13: 9781770893344

From the Publisher

A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and a #1 national bestseller, Kathleen Winter's spectacular debut novel is now available in a new edition.

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self - a girl he thinks of as "Annabel" - is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.

Haunting and sweeping in scope, Annabel is an unforgettable novel about a one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction.

About the Author

Kathleen Winter is the author of the international bestseller, Annabel, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and CBC's Canada Reads. Her first collection of stories, boys, won both the Winterset Award and the Metcalf-Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John's, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.
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