Winter's Tale

"I have been to another world, and come back. Listen to me."

From page 127. Our hero, Peter Lake, master mechanic/burglar, citizen of the streets and shores, is contemplating the surprising development that he has fallen in love with Beverly Penn, a young heiress, whose fever and consumption are expected to take her life (any day now).

"A young girl, a frailty, simple and true, who had been unable to stand up from the piano and had had to be carried; a girl half his age; a girl who could not shoot a gun, had never been in an oyster house, atop a tower, or under the wharves; a girl hotter always than noon in August; a girl who knew nothing; had thrown him so hard that he would be out of breath forever."

From page 236. Being described is Hugh Close, the rewrite editor of The Sun, the newspaper the Penn family owns.

"Words were all he knew; they possessed and overwhelmed him, as if they were a thousand white cats with whom he shared a one-bedroom apartment. (In fact, he did not like cats, because they could not talk and would not listen.)"

From page 278. Hardesty Marratta, the disinherited younger son of a San Francisco millionaire, is finding out how hard it is to stay up all night playing high-stakes poker on a cross-country train.

"His head felt as if it had been bolted to his spine by a Visigoth mechanic. But all the time that he played cards on a green leather table as the Polaris shot across short-grass country in the long white night, he knew that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. ... he had given himself to fortune entirely."

It's very difficult to give the true flavor of this marvelous book without giving away too much of its intricate, intense plot. There are dozens of characters. There are love stories. There are adventures. There are a magical white horse, a painting that shows the city of the future, a house in the middle of a lake, a town that doesn't exist on any map, a mayoral election won by an underdog who promises to change the weather, a vicious gang that holds its secret meetings in a place of inestimable danger, a perfect hideout above the night sky, and so many other things I can't begin to tell you.

I found several mentions of Winter's Tale on the web:

And, of course, buy the book at with all speed.

Here are some of the reviewers' blurbs in the front of this book. Few of them truly do it justice, but those that do are magical in and of themselves.

Read my other Helprin page, which isn't as good.
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