Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review- Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Goodreads Summary: 

Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment. 

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret: the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as "Annabel," is never entirely extinguished.

Kathleen Winter has crafted a literary gem about the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty, Annabel introduces a remarkable new voice to American readers.



I read Annabel as part of the LGBT Reading Event being hosted by Adam @ Roof Beam Reader. I saw the book on Adam's blog when I decided to sign up for the event and since then, I was intrigued by the idea of Annabel. Luckily, a few days later, I came across the book while browsing the local bookstore and quickly purchased a copy for myself. 


For some odd reason that I cannot seem to figure out, my comments don't get published on Wordpress. So I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Adam for initiating and hosting such a grand event. Also, I know that Adam has been eager to read Annabel since it was published in 2010. I would like to dedicate this review to him, and I hope he gets to read the book very soon as I think he will like it. 
Thank you, Adam! The LGBT Reading Event is going brilliantly

REVIEW: 

Wow. Simply wow.
I have no words to describe how much I adored Annabel. Honestly, I don't even consider myself worthy of reviewing such a masterpiece, but I feel that I should share the beauty of this novel with other readers, which is why I will try my best to do justice to this glorious piece of literature.
I was actually searching the dictionary for words that I could use to describe Annabel when I came across the word "dainty", which means 'delicately beautiful' and that is precisely what Annabel is.
In 1968, in Croydon Harbour, Labrador, Canada, Jacinta Blake gives birth to an unusual child who is neither male nor female but both in one body. The child is born with the reproductive organs of both males and females. Doctors come to the conclusion that the baby can be raised as a boy and the truth remains concealed with the boy's parents, Jacinta and Treadway Blake and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina Montague.
Annabel is the story of Wayne's journey from the time of his birth to his infancy, adolescence and youth. But above all that, Annabel is about seeing and appreciating beauty in all the various forms that it presents itself in. It is about how society perceives anything and everything that is strange and unusual.
Jacinta and Treadway were cherubic. I loved reading about the progress and ups and downs of their marriage. As parents, both of them want the best for their child and as humans, they want others to accept their child for who he is even though their discomfort and confusion about him is evident in the early phase of Wayne's life. Treadway tries to mould Wayne into a young man whom he can be proud of, at the same, Jacinta has this deep urge of guarding the part of Wayne that screams to be a girl. Jacinta and Treadway share a wonderful relationship with each other and with their child. When author Kathleen Winter describes Jacinta and Treadway, she doesn't just elaborate the two of them, but you get a glimpse into the live of any inhabitant of Labrador, a glimpse into society in general.
I absolutely admire Jacinta and Treadway Blake's neighbour and the woman who first realised the strange notion that came with Wayne's birth, Thomasina Montague. I am in complete awe of Thomasina. She was a caretaker, mentor, teacher and in a very uncharacteristic manner, mother to Wayne. After losing her own husband and daughter, Graham Montague and Annabel Montague, she is inclined to selflessly devote herself to Wayne. She decides to secretly reincarnate a part of her lost daughter in Wayne by naming him Annabel. They (Thomasina and Wayne) shared an enchanting relationship. Thomasina was brave and resolute. She was everything you wish every individual on this planet could be or could strive to be.
Another character that I really admire is Wally Michelin, Wayne's childhood best friend who, in a secret and sublet way, makes Wayne reach out to parts of himself he didn't even know existed. She was everything Wayne wished he could be. They shared a lovely relationship and I loved how their story ended.
I have read in many reviews that the reader wants to hug the character they read about. I always found it rather funny. Until I read about Wayne. I now know exactly what someone means when they say that they want to hug a book character. Reading about Wayne and getting to know him made me want to pull him close and hug him tightly. I loved Wayne. As a child, he seemed so mature for his age and curious too. I loved his curiosity. I felt for him. At times, I was silently weeping for Wayne. From his obsession with a Russian swimmer's suit to his discovery of make-up products, Wayne comes a long, long way and as a reader, I found myself accompanying him on his journey. As he grows up, he becomes his own individual and it was absolutely enthralling to read about him stepping into the world, trying to figure things out, meeting new people, seeing how people react to him. Wow. I cannot even put into words how much I loved Wayne and how much I cared about him throughout the book.
Annabel is all about growing up, learning, seeing, observing, contemplating, becoming and above anything else, loving...
Annabel is an exquisitely crafted novel. It has so much to tell the reader. I found myself contemplating over how we see the world with such a narrow mind and there really is so much out there. Whether man or woman or both at once, we are all beautiful in our own way and the least and best that we can do for someone is accept them for who and what they are and let them be. I had never thought I'd love Annabel so much. Author Kathleen Winter has written an exceptional and remarkable novel that has made me open my eyes and heart to all the hermaphrodites out there who, in the end of the day, are just like you and me- human beings.
I am in complete awe of Annabel and I am so elated that I read it. An unforgettable book, Annabel will always remain very close to my heart. 

RATING: 

 X 4.5

Sarika



15 comments:

  1. Wow, I haven't heard of this. What a compelling and unique story. Is it a work of fiction or non-fiction? Your review is lovely and really gives me a great glimpse into this story. Thanks!

    Jenny @ Book Sojourner :)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jenny and for your kind words about my review! Annabel comes under Fiction. Happy reading! :)

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  2. This sounds really good! Thanks for sharing, I'll be sure to check this out :)
    Great review!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Annmarie! Glad to know you're looking forward to reading Annabel. :)

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  3. Great review! And thanks for your words - I'm glad you (and so many others) are participating in and appreciating The Literary Others event!! I haven't been able to do much of my own reading for this event, due to work and school obligations, but I'm definitely reading all the reviews and I should be able to complete my third book for the event this weekend, which is something. :)

    I really can't wait to read this one - hopefully I'll be able to find the time over winter break.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Adam and for your kind words. I've read all the books that I'd planned to read for the Event, but you are doing great too. I'm reading all the Guest Posts and other stuff and it's simply brilliant.
      Yes, you better read Annabel soon! I can hardly wait to hear your thoughts on it. :)

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  4. This book is in my to-read pile, so I am excited that you loved it so much. Great review!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie! I hope you get to read Annabel soon and I can't wait to hear your thoughts! :)

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  5. Great Review!
    I have never heard of this book but I am intrigued. I will add it to my TBR pile. :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by!
      I'm so glad to hear that you've added Annabel to your TBR, it is a must-read! :)

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  6. I did read it! Haahaa - I forgot. I was having issues posting to Blogger the day I read it. I love how you describe it: "...the urge to unveil mysterious truth in a culture that shuns contradiction, and the body’s insistence on coming home. A daringly unusual debut full of unforgettable beauty..."

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    1. And I've been having issues posting on Wordpress! I read your review, Geoff and it was beautiful. So good to know that you read and liked Annabel too. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  7. I remember seeing Annabel in the Grove/Atlantic catalog. It sounded amazing then, and now it sounds even better having read your review.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Liviania! It's feels so good to hear that my review has made you want to read Annabel even more. :) I hope you can read it soon!

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