Once again, I feel bad that I am disparaging a book that has received lofty praise from so many others. Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel, Winter’s Tale tells the story of PeterLake, abandoned at birth, raised by a tribe on the shores of North Jersey then set free in Manhatten to ply his trade as a thief. While robbing the rich mid-town apartment of an absent owner he discovers the sickly young daughter home alone and a May-December romance blossoms. I am not going to tell you what happens from there, not because I fear ruining the story for you but rather because at about that point, maybe page 257 or so, I gave up on this book. I just couldn’t go any further.
Winter’s Tale is a big book, 768 pages. It begins slowly and, in my opinion, loses momentum from there. I kept waiting for it to get better and it never did. Mark Helprin has a great command of the language and paints pictures with his words, but the story was told as sort of an epic myth in a setting of old New York that was either imaginary or semi-science fiction and it lost me early in despite my best efforts to hang on.
The reviews on Amazon range from “Sheer Insanity and Gorgeous Magic” to “too much non-sensical gibberish”. Guess which camp I am in? One lonesome * for this one.