The winter vault – A lyrical story of love and loss

The winter vault by Anne Michaels

Canadian poet Anne Michaels has written an exquisitely lyrical story of love and loss. In this, her second novel, we follow the lives of Avery and Jean Escher as they attempt to come to terms with their grief after loosing their first child at birth.  The novel commences on the Nile, as Avery, an engineer, oversees the intricate removal and relocation of the magnificent temple of Abu Simbel, to make way for the Aswan dam. The novel is heavy with allegory and metaphor, as we witness the changes to and death of landscape and community; and follow Avery and Jean as their marriage crumbles. The theme carries on throughout the novel, as Jean returns to Canada,  meets Lucjan ( a Jewish Holocaust survivor) and finds her own community changed and displaced by water in the St Lawrence seaway.

There is real pathos to this novel; the prose beautifully constructing the loss of both human relationships, life and environment. But, don’t be turned off thinking this is just too tragic to read – the novel has been fabulously researched and the clever weaving of fiction into historical fact is a real journey. This is a wonderful read that will stay with you for days after reading. Highly recommended.

Review by Kate