#12 – The Winter Vault – Anne Michaels

In 1964, a newly married Canadian couple settle into a houseboat on the Nile just below Abu Simbel. At the time of the building of the Aswam dam, Avery Escher is one of the engineers responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of a sacred temple, a “machine-worshipper” who is nonetheless sensitive to their destructive power.

Jean is a botanist by avocation, 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 in the name of progress, much of what they most believe in is tested.

When a tragic event occurs, nearing the end of Avery’s time in Egypt, he and Jean return to separate lives in Toronto; Avery to school to study architecture and Jean into the orbit of Lucjan, a Polish émigré artist whose haunting tales of occupied Warsaw pull her further from her husband, while offering her the chance to assume her most essential life. – Publishers Website

I really loved this novel.  Set within different parts of the world, the history behind them, as well as the harrowing details of each character gives you an almost haunting look into how they came to be.  I have to admit, I was just a bit anxious to finish it, maybe even a bit scared with the details or imagining what was going to happen next.  You will be filled with a sense of love, loss, and incredible survival instincts that will leave you breathless.  Then of course comes acceptance and forgiveness.

Reading Group Guide

Read an Excerpt

The Winter Vault was short listed for the Giller Prize in 2009, A finalist in 2010 for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book, and nominated for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

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