A New York Winter’s Tale

One night in New York, a city under siege by snow, Peter Lake attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks it is empty, the daughter of the house is home . . .

Thus begins the affair between this Irish burglar and Beverly Penn, a young girl dying of consumption. It is a love so powerful that Peter will be driven to stop time and bring back the dead; A New York Winter’s Tale is the story of that extraordinary journey.

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Keeping within the theme of the last post which harkened back to Downton Abbey I thought I’d post about A New York Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. Now, you might be asking what has this got to do with Downton? Well not much, except we Downton fiends are well aware that Jessica Brown Findlay aka Lady Sybil Crawley portrayed Helprin’s heroine Beverly Penn in the screen adaptation. JBF also appears on the re-issued paperback version of the book. I have not seen the screen version but I have read the book and it’s a masterpiece from start to (almost) finish…keep reading!

Helprin’s novel is considered a classic: a New York Times bestseller it certainly has a legion of fans and may be considered a cult classic. I admit I had not heard of it until the hype about the film’s release caught my attention. Some say the film was an ill-fitting tribute to the book, I can see why it has its critiques simply because at 768 pages it must have been impossible to incorporate every element of Helprin’s imagery and blatant use of magic into the script.

It is a love story which survives time, death and the channels of lightness and darkness. It is rare for an adult’s book to rely on the stuff of fairy tales but this is what Helprin unabashedly does, this is pretty clear when we’re immediately introduced to Peter Lake’s flying white steed.  The synopsis is pretty straight forward and condensed, but it does not indicate the magical journey which the reader will be taken on. Perhaps the flying steed is a hint for what to expect…

I have not read the entire book yet (I rarely review halfway through), but I greedily snatch any bits of spare time which I may have throughout the day to revisit Helprin’s gorgeous prose. But I’ve read enough to know it’s going to be a brilliant, unforgettable read!

 

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