The Winter Vault

by Anne Michaels

Hardcover, 2009

Call number




Knopf (2009), Edition: 1st, 352 pages


In 1964, a newly married Canadian couple settle into a houseboat on the Nile just below Abu Simbel. Avery is one of the engineers responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of the temple, a "machine-worshipper" who is nonetheless sensitive to their destructive power. Jean is a botanist by vocation, passionately interested in everything that grows. They met on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, witnessing the construction of the Seaway as it swallowed towns, homes, and lives. Now, at the edge of another world about to be inundated, they create their own world, exchanging "the innocent memories we don't know we hold until given the gift of the eagerness of another." But when tragedy strikes, they return to separate lives in Toronto: Avery to school to study architecture; and Jean into the orbit of Lucjan, a Polish emigre artist whose haunting tales of occupied Warsaw pull her further from Avery but offer her the chance to assume her 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.… (more)

Media reviews

In Canada, much of our most venerated fiction has the feel of high-minded scrapbooks. Don’t get me wrong: themes don’t come more classic than memory and loss, and readers seem to treasure books that overflow with backward-looking mournfulness. But too much woe is, well, too much.
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Michaels produces passages of lyrical beauty, and eloquently expresses her horror at human violence inflicted on the land and its inhabitants. Yet the novel's emotional impact remains subdued, in part because Michaels at times allows her lessons - of botany, history, architecture - to overwhelm her
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story; and in part because of the abrupt narrative shift halfway through.
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That intertwining of the novel’s style and content — the impossibility of rescuing the past from the ravages of time, balanced with the unlikelihood, even the absurdity, of using this poetic language to document those ravages — is ultimately the great theme of “The Winter Vault,” as it
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was, for example, in Ondaatje’s “Coming Through Slaughter,” which attempts to resurrect the life and music of Buddy Bolden, whose cornet playing was never recorded. What these novels can’t do (and Michaels never seems entirely reconciled to this fact) is create much of a texture of ordinary lived experience. No one comes down with sand rash or dysentery; no one pumps gas or orders French fries. Every gesture is freighted; every remark a bon mot. But what they can do is leave us with a sequence of indelible images: the displaced villagers rowing out to drift where they used to live; the Nubian women having to exchange their traditional dresses — a flowing black cloak called a gargara — for plain white saris more suited to the savannah around their new villages; the temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel cut into pieces with diamond saws and painstakingly reassembled miles from its original home on the Nile.
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Reading The Winter Vault is a peculiarly intense experience: Michael’s language is acutely precise, richly textured and lyrically beautiful, whether she is describing the immensity of the Egyptian desert or focusing in scrupulous detail upon a flower in Jean’s garden. The most ordinary objects
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become charged with layers of meaning, articles in Michael’s “catalogue of desires… market of the broken and lost” each evoking a highly resonant series of significations. Yet frequently Michaels’s sentences are almost too beautiful, too intensely suffused with portent: Jean and Avery converse in a series of cryptic, gnomic utterances which are too mannered to be convincing.
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The characters in The Winter Vault live in a world of intense emotion and ethical grappling, “an engagement of mind…almost shattering in its pleasure.” Freed from the shackles of groceries and telephone bills, their essences appear distilled or concentrated on the page. Luckily this paring
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down, under Michaels’ sure hand, makes them not less human but more so. Her gift for subtlety reverberates throughout the rest of the book as well.
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Jazyk Michaels je nesmírně hutný, plný metafor a vyznačuje se vypjatou obrazností. Místy je plný symbolů, autorka opakuje a zrcadlí jednotlivé motivy a tím jim dodává na dalších rozměrech. Místy velmi konkrétní, to když se snaží zachytit všechny střípky reality pomocí
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detailních popisů kaž-dodenních předmětů. Slova plynou jako řeka, která je jedním z hlavních symbolů celého románu. Představuje paměť, jež v sobě všechno nese a uchovává, zároveň ale její proud podemílá a obrušuje vzpomínky a přináší zapomnění. Zároveň je řeka ničitelkou odná-šející pryč vše, co mělo zůstat do paměti otisknuto. Stává se tak spojnicí hlavních témat knihy, jejím prostřednictvím se vše doplňuje, navzájem odráží, protíná. Voda je v knize zásadním živlem, stává se sama postavou. Jazyk se jí podobá ještě v jednom aspektu, a to sice ve své melodičnosti, hudeb-nosti. Místy zurčí, místy se líně a těžce dere kupředu, nikdy však nepolevuje a jeho bohatost je ohromující.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Cait86
Jess Row, who wrote a review of The Winter Vault for The New York Times, compares Anne Michaels to one of my favourite authors, Michael Ondaatje. Both write in a style called "lyric fiction", which melds the features of the lyric poem with the features of the novel. As a result, the reader is given
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a book with dense language, vivid imagery, and a focus on time - the mixing of past and present, the importance of history, and the value of that elusive thing called memory.

Michaels' writing is certainly poetic. Her sentences are rich and complex, and the reader may frequently feel as though he or she has left his or her own house, and instead is sitting alongside Michaels' characters. The narrative, like that of a lyric poem, is disjointed; the characters spend a lot of their time recounting their personal histories, and so the story jumps from Egypt to Toronto to Warsaw, from 1964 to 1957 to 1944.

The Winter Vault is essentially, like many other novels, the story of a couple - their happiness, loss, estrangement, and reconciliation. Newly married, Avery and Jean travel to Egypt for Avery's work. He is an engineer working on deconstructing, moving, and rebuilding Abu Simbel, an ancient temple that must be saved from the man-made Lake Aswan. In Egypt the couple suffers a personal tragedy, and back in Toronto they go their separate ways. The second half of the novel follows Jean's relationship with a new man, Lucjan, and her attempt to rebuild her fractured soul.

Row was correct in many ways - Michaels and Ondaatje do have similar writing styles. Because of this, I enjoyed The Winter Vault quite a lot. However, one crucial element separates these two authors. Michaels' prose is extremely dense, and she suffers at times from using 50 words where 5 will suffice. She is obviously invested in her characters, as she knows their every thought, insecurity, and reaction. This can be negative, as Michaels does not leave anything up to the reader. We do not wonder how Jean feels - we are told, in minute detail, how she feels. We are not left to contemplate symbolic parallels - we have them explained to us. Now, many readers may enjoy this, but I am not one of them. What makes Ondaatje such a splendid writer, in my opinion, is his insistance that the reader think. Often his passages require rereading in order to understand exactly what is being said, and two readers can "get" two totally different things from the same scene. Not so with Michaels, who seems to want to evoke one certain meaning from her novel. Ondaatje, like many contemporary Canadian authors, writes works where there is no one meaning, where multiple readings elicit multiple understandings. For Ondaatje, there is no right or wrong; for Michaels, there is.

The Winter Vault is still a beautiful read full of many life lessons. My only criticism would be that Michaels needs to let go a bit, and let the reader do some of the thinking for his or herself.
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LibraryThing member hopefulseeker
As other reviewer's have noted this book is difficult to get into and stay with. The narrative arc is lost in too many tangents - Michaels could have written more about the Aswan Dam and St Lawrence without throwing in Warsaw. I didn't find the characters engaging or likeable in the end. Yes the
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prose is lovely as expected from a poet but it is not enough to sustain the book.
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LibraryThing member groovygal506
Although there were some beautifully written passages in this book, I did not enjoy it at all. First of all, the two main characters are named Jean and Avery - either one could have been male or female. Even 100 pages into the book I was still having a hard time remembering which was the husband
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and which was the wife! Not a good start!

I also found the author very verbose. When one metaphor would do to describe how sad a character was, she used three. Can anyone say O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L.

I found the story crept along so slowly and just when I thought the story was making progress, BAM, someone was reminiscing about the past... AAAHHH, I found it very frustrating.

It was a chore to finish this book. Perhaps there are people with a more literary background who will enjoy this meandering stroll of a book, but it definitely was not for me.
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LibraryThing member SamSattler
“The Winter Vault” is a complex, passionate novel about loneliness, destruction, replication, personal loss, and memories of one’s roots, and it requires high levels of patience and concentration if one is to absorb everything that Anne Michaels is trying to say. It is neither a plot-driven
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nor a character-driven novel and, in fact, those are its weakest elements. Rather, it is a philosophical novel filled with rambling monologues, lessons, and meditations that often have little to do with plot. Further, the book’s main characters, although they can be memorable, often have more the feel of actors being brought on stage simply to make an author’s points than the feel of real, breathing people.

It is 1964 and Avery Escher is in Egypt to save Abu Simbel’s Great Temple from the floodwaters soon to be released by the new Aswan Dam. He is there to oversee the dismantling of the centuries-old Temple so that it can be reconstructed some sixty feet higher in a cliff where it will be safe from the flooding. His wife, Jean, who witnessed a similar event in Canada when ten villages were sacrificed to the waters of the new St. Lawrence Seaway, is in Egypt with Avery, whom she met when he worked the Seaway project.

Jean is saddened by what she sees in Egypt, the displacement of the Nubian people whose government is happy enough to sacrifice them for the greater good of the country. As trainload after trainload of these people are relocated and their ancestral villages are destroyed and flooded, Jean realizes that she and Avery are part of something destructive rather than something positive. When a personal tragedy forces her to return to Canada, she finds that her feelings about her life and marriage have changed and she decides to live alone.

The second half of the book sees Avery largely fading into the background while Jean tries to put her life back together with the help of her new friend, Lucjan, a Polish immigrant who, as a boy, survived the World War II destruction of Warsaw. In Jean, Lucjan has finally found a woman with whom he can share his detailed memories of those days, including how disoriented he was when he first walked the streets of the uncannily accurate replication of the old city completed after the war.

The two halves of “The Winter Vault” share a common theme but their plots and characters are so different that they read like two novels under one cover. Anne Michaels has published several poetry collections and the prose of “The Winter Vault,” only her second novel, is often as striking as her poetry. Unfortunately, however, some of her extended passages continue to be vague and distracting no matter how much attention and time a reader gives them. It should also be noted that the decision not to use quotation marks or chapter breaks in this 336-page novel may tempt some readers to abandon it well short of its final page. Those who persevere will, however, have much to think about when they finish “The Winter Vault.”

Rated at: 3.5
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LibraryThing member allmadhere
I recieved this as an Early Reviewers book. The prose is beautiful and absorbing, which isn't surprising, since the author is also a poet. I loved the descriptions of different places and cultures. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to finish reading it yet, so I'll finish this review when I've
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finished the book.
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LibraryThing member lyricalconversations
THE WINTER VAULT is a novel about displacement, loss, love, history, connectedness and memories; how starting over again through replication does not always produce the same outcome but rather recreation or restoration should be favoured. Parallels are continuously drawn between the displacement
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and rebuilding of the temple and the human body.This novel reads like poetry and this is what makes it beautiful but also unbearable. You become sucked into the beauty of the language and seamless flow of the words, that once you resurface from your dreamlike state and find you still have more to read disappointment sets in. You realize there is nothing real about the characters as they seem to serve only the function of props for rich and beautiful poetry. If you are looking for plot, excitement, surprise, suspense or characters that speak for themselves you may not enjoy this novel; if however you long to read a novel whose words are beautifully sown together, and dreamlike and you wish to become enveloped in a poetic world with rich themes, this is a great book. It's hard to say whether this book is good or bad, it's really a matter of taste.
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LibraryThing member paeonia
I received this book from the April Early Reviewers list, and I actually finished reading it a couple of weeks ago. It has taken a while for my feelings about the book to solidify. At first I was completely swept away by the language - I could drown in the prose. I kept stopping to reread passages
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that struck me.
The story itself was sad, elegiac, about everything that is lost as civilization sweeps toward the future. Homes are lost as newly built dams flood an area, war sweeps away lives, love struggles to survive through adversity.
At first the characters seem quite passive, seeming simply to drift where fate leads, and Michaels seems content to let characters just drift out of the story. But it really is a book about memory, about the memories we keep, the memories we let go, and the memories that will not let go of us.
This is a book that I will read again.
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LibraryThing member sparrow52
I received The Winter Vault as part of the Early Reviewer's program. MIchael's first book has been on TBR list for quite some time, but has never made it to the top of the pile so this is my first experience with her work.

What captured me about this book was the language. It is one of the most
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beautifully written books I've ever read, with such vivid and, at points, disturbing imagery. One of the most powerful and difficult sections for my to read was the description of the winter vault and the winter dead, which made a profound statement about the cost of war.

I would have to agree with lyricalconversations about ultimately being disappointed with the book in some ways. While I thought it was a beautiful book and had much to say about loss and memory, by the end it seemed to feel as if the characters were crafted to suit ideas and themes and images.

I did enjoy my reading of The Winter Vault, but that was primarily for the language itself rather than for the plot or for a connection with the characters.
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LibraryThing member Scrat
The Winter Vault - Anne Michaels
With one of my favourite novels, Fugitive Pieces, in mind, I expected to immediately fall in love again with Anne Michael's new novel, The Winter Vault. It was not to be. There were times while reading this book, I actually contemplated not finishing -- I think in my
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entire life I have only "not finished" a book once -- Cloud Atlas -- which received rave reviews and which I just couldn't get into...oops, I digress.... Anne Michaels's The Winter Vault was a difficult and disturbing read. I liked the images she uses and the idea of the protagonist being a winter vault but this time I found her style very dense and and disjointed (maybe it is deliberate but I found it distracting). Nonetheless, I suspect that if I made a greater effort while reading this novel, I would unearth a richness that I have missed the first time around.
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LibraryThing member labelleaurore
The Winter Vault is beautifully written but I had a hard time to get into it and basically I did not finish reading it. I believe with times and other moments, I will get back to it and finish it. The story did not seem to start fast enough for me.
LibraryThing member jessstewart
I attempted to start this book several times. I had not read fugitive pieces although I had heard it was beautifully written. I found with this book there were too many technical details and it took too long to hook me with anything about the personal story. I will attempt again at some point and
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hopefully with greater success.
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LibraryThing member veevoxvoom
Summary: Avery and Jean are a married Canadian couple sent to Egypt where Avery is an engineer helping with the moving of the temple at Abu Simbel. Avery and Jean experience loss in Egypt, and their return to Canada as well as their growing apart are told in dreamy poetic fragments.

Review: I’ve
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made it my goal this year to read every book on the 2009 Giller shortlist, and this is the first book I can knock off that ‘to do’ list. And it’s not a bad start at all. The Winter Vault is written in such poetic language that it’s a treat just to watch what Michaels will come up next, kind of like watching a trapeze artist fly through the air. You wait for her to fall, but she never does. In her book, she explores loss, marriage, history, and the private lives of several characters, from Avery and Jean to the man Jean takes up with, the bohemian artist Lucjan.

The book is a bit cold in the sense that I never grew to like any of the characters. There isn’t much of a solid plot, only musings as the characters go through their lives. This can get boring after a while, and I did flip quickly through a few pages where I felt nothing of significance was happening or Michaels was getting too pretentious. For people who are looking for a traditional plot-based novel, this isn’t the book for you. But if you want to see beautiful language at play, I recommend reading The Winter Vault. Instead of digesting it all at once, read it as if you would poetry, a bit every day. It works better when you think of it like that.

Conclusion: The plot and story are so-so, but the language is stunning.
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LibraryThing member Niecierpek
This novel is about displacing people, art and culture. It’s about loss, its intensity and its irreparable damage. It takes us first to Egypt at the time of building of the Aswam dam, which not only displaced thousands of Nubians, but also Abu Simbel temple, and then to Canada and Poland. In
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Canada, widening of the St. Lawrence River caused some villages to be re-located tens of kilometers from where they originally were, causing grief to the people residing there, and in Poland it’s the Second World War and the holocaust, and then also the times of the Soviet regime after the war that serves for the narrative setting. All these settings are encompassed by the main characters Jean and Avery, a Canadian-English married couple, and then Lucjan, Jean’s Polish-Jewish lover, all of whom have direct ties to these places.

Both the premise and the factual info that make the foundation of the book are quite interesting. The language is very poetic and from time to time quite stunning with some memorable images dispersed throughout. Yet the whole doesn’t work. There is too much dreariness there, too many unnecessary digressions, and the characters come out awfully flat despite all the drama that happens in their life.
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LibraryThing member deliriumslibrarian
@Caroline McElwee mentions her commonplace book when reviewing this novel: I have to say that The Winter Vault read like a commonplace book to me: beautifully turned phrases (and some that are gramatically opaque: why does Michaels have such a problem using parts of the verb 'to be') are beautiful
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to the exclusion of all else. Often, I felt that the narrative had been shaped to hinge around these insights rather than their emerging from the characters.

I have nothing against aphoristic fiction, but I feel that this patina of linguistic elegance detracts from the moral seriousness that the novel wishes to convey in its catalogue of displacements: in fact, these aphorisms are one more displacement, in this case for action, relation, engagement, life. The characters are languid indeed: almost doll-like in their perverse unreeling of memories, spoken in highly stylised paragraphs.

Sorry: amendment. The male characters. Michaels appears to have taken as fact John Berger's bizarre and essentialist belief that women function ONLY to salve men's wounds by being receptive (or receptacles). Women are the wound, for Berger, and this openness makes them the healing ear/cunt that men need. Which is absolute bullshit -- and as the narrative principle in The Winter Vault, it's not only false but squeamishly so. I started to wonder if Jean's mother had died to get away from the endless drone of her husband's voice -- which pursues her even in her grave. By the end I was so sick of the sound of the Avery's and Lucjan's voices I wished they would disappear instead of all the people whose disappearances they mourn (yet do nothing about).

Ah yes: the disappeared. Michaels writes with statistical precision about the displacement of Nubians from the area that is now covered by Lake Nasser, and the similar removal of villages along the St. Lawrence Seaway. She writes with more emotive drama about the emptying of Warsaw, which echoes material in Fugitive Pieces. Perhaps it's that she's on less confident ground with the material in the first section, but it is frequently distributed in paragraphs with no narrative anchor - no voice or point-of-view implied or stated - and so feels like chunks of regurgitated textbook. Like the aphorisms, it lacks roots in the characters.

I wonder if this is because the author is, in some way, aware that her chosen displacements are themselves narrative displacements, choices that (struggle to) conceal two other historical mass movements and destructions beneath them: in the case of the Nubians, I constantly felt the (unaddressed) echo of the Nakba at the other end of the Nile; in the case of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the much more massive and total displacement of the areas' First Nations, whom Michaels mentions in a glancing aside.

She asserts that they were themselves interlopers of recent vintage, having walked across the landbridge twenty thousand years ago (disproved by far older fossil records discovered recently) -- as if that makes the colonial displacement and genocide more acceptable, making way for a) the sentimental apprehension of the villages that are washed away, few of which could be more than 100 years old and b) the all-too-familiar gesture by which the white settlers become "indigenous" (doubled by the parallel of the Nubians and the white Canadians) and holders of native knowledge, perpetrated through Jean's collection of her mother's seeds.

I did give this novel three stars originally, partially out of loyalty to Michaels' earlier work -- I have read Fugitive Pieces and The Weight of Oranges many, many times -- and partially out of a respect and hunger for serious, eloquent, involved and attentive writing. But the torch has passed: while Michaels was almost alone as an Ondaatje female impersonator in 1997, we now have writers of the calibre of Kamila Shamsie, whose recent Burnt Shadows makes as explicit use of The English Patient as Michaels made of In the Skin of a Lion in Fugitive Pieces. Moreover, Shamsie critiques the ethical violence of Ondaatje's poetic style when she extends the story beyond the suspended ending of The English Patient to imagine that which Ondaatje leaves out (marriage, childbirth, postcolonial life, dailiness, the present, women as actual characters) in his fastidious ellipses and allusive phrasemaking.

Loyalty, as Jean discovers, is not enough: you listen and listen and the speaker kicks you out when he's used you up. It's too extreme to say that I feel dispossessed by The Winter Vault, because I doubted it could reach the heights - the exactness, the incendiary images, the perceptive characters - of Fugitive Pieces. Without those qualities, this is collection of beautiful words: a vault of dried seeds with no ground to stand on.
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LibraryThing member bacreads
Beautiful prose but characters not dimensional. Story difficult to follow. Seemed to want to put in a lot of information but not enough background to bring it all together
LibraryThing member pmarshall
"The Winter Vault" is heralded as Anne Michaels' second masterpiece, the first being her only other book "Fugitive Pieces." I think both are made too much off. The story is of one of loss of people and culture as a result of major events in a small region. "The Winter Vault" moves from the building
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of the Aswan Dam in Egypt, to construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada to Poland and the aftermath of World War II. In the process the author lost me. I found this a difficult book to get into and more difficult to stay with, in fact I didn't stay with it, rather it got added to a small pile of 'did not finish.' titles.
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LibraryThing member booksinthebelfry
A profound and haunting meditation on love and sorrow, mistakes and lies, forgiveness and grace -- what some might loftily term "the human condition." Michaels is a gifted poet as well as a novelist, and while her poetic sensibility is most evident in the beauty of her language and the stunning
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preciseness of detail with which she evokes physical and emotional atmosphere, it is also manifested in the elliptical, fluid flow of the novel's action, which alternates freely between the large and public (the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt, the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway) and the small and private (a miscarriage and a marriage gone awry, a childhood spent in the ruins of occupied Warsaw). It is not every writer who can discern and make the reader feel the unified, organic nature of life that animates all our human impulses, whether they are expressed through an engineer's pencil, a botanist's grafting knife, or an artist's paint & brush. This observation by one of the main characters, although made in its own specific context, also serves as a good description of the novel's structure:

"Lucjan tore a piece of paper from his drawing tablet and crumpled it into a ball. -This is what the world is. A ball where everything is smashed together -collusion, complicity- those German plans for Egyptian dams you spoke of, and countless other examples..."

For a reader with a philosophical bent and an appreciation for the quietly insightful, this novel could be the world.

Also highly recommended: The author's earlier novel, Fugitive Pieces.
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LibraryThing member francesanngray
Beautiful writing....not that interesting a story. Only finished it due to stubbornness.
LibraryThing member CarltonC
I really enjoyed Fugitive Pieces, even though it was disjointed, for its language.
I tried and tried with The Winter Vault, but although the language was beautiful, the narrative was lacking. I managed to struggle within 50 pages of the end, but just could not finish it. A disappointment.
LibraryThing member catnips13
There's something empty about The Winter Vault. Yes, it's gorgeously written. Yes, the themes of love and loss and memory are prominent. Yes, there is a lot about being human. But the book itself is not human at all.

To me, being human is all about chaos. It is the hesitance when you speak, the
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actions you want to take back, the frustration of speaking and acting and saying and doing it wrong. But in The Winter Vault, characters move with an alien precision, and their movements are always correct, always aimed at your heart. The way they speak, musing, philosophical, perfect, is lacking the entropy of how one would say, "I'm sorry, I just - " and "It's none of my business, but - ". And this precision confuses and irks me because I can't distinguish one character from the other because they all possess and are consumed by this exactness. You can't be human and be able to hit the heart all the time.
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LibraryThing member Ameise1
I have very mixed feelings about this book and it was not so easy to read at times. On the one hand, the simple basis of this story is the resettlement of people - be it the Numbians in the construction of the dam lake, the people of St. Lawrence Seaway or the people who helped Warsaw build WWII. A
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topic that is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the story is based on the feelings of these people. These feelings are portrayed so detailed, that I often hurt when I read and I only had the desire that this would be easier to tell. [[Anne Michaels]] ' writing style seems to be inexhaustible. She can give an importance from an inconspicuous thing, with her opinion described in the last detail, which sometimes banned me as a reader to the brink of the impossible. Often I thought less is more. On the other hand, it was precisely this detail infidelity, which kept me reading, in the hope of learning more about the situations.
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LibraryThing member Eye_Gee
I must admit I didn't always get what was going on in this book, but when it had me it had me deep. The story is easy to summarize but the book is hard for me to describe. It's a lot about the characters' interior lives, especially what happens when two people resonate deeply. I felt like it
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literally pulled emotions out of me.
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LibraryThing member Rdra1962
Another beautiful book by the award winning author of Fugitive Pieces. Although there is not much plot, or even story, the characters are so haunting, and the setting are so vivid. Michaels is a poet, and her powers of description are incredible. It took me a long time to read this novel because I
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kept stopping to reread passages, then read then out loud to my poor DH!
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LibraryThing member siri51
Written by a poet, the narrative was difficult to follow; unsympathetic characters and a jumble of geographies and times
LibraryThing member sydamy
I'm not sure quite how to describe this book. I don't think I have read anything so beautifully written in quite a while. It was like reading poetry. She writes with such imagery, her words should be savoured. That being said, I was not thrilled with the story. The first half of the book was simply
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magnificent. The love story moved between present day and the memories of the the couple, individually and during their courtship. The second half of the book is where the downturn started. I did not like where the story went. It introduced a new character and all but abandoned one that I had grown to love. This new character, spent the entire second half of the book telling his memories, which frankly, I really didn't care about, since I didn't really like him. I guess these memories were supposed to let me know him and feel for him but it didn't work for me. It is an odd feeling to read a story line and be both disappointed in the tale itself and so captured by the writing.
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