Review – Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin


This is a book review, BUT I’m pretty exited about today’s release of the movie Winter’s Tale! If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the trailer:

When I first saw the trailer, I remembered the book the movie is based on, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I had come across it a few months before, but I decided not to read it because the reviews were sharply divided. For me it looked like one half was raving about the book being brilliant, while the other half was complaining about it being boring. I was intrigued by the synopsis but I didn’t want to risk reading a 700-page book that would bore me. But then came the trailer and I was fascinated. I mean, they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring novel, right? There had to be something about the book that made it worth reading. So I read it. And here comes a review that was very hard to write.


New York City is eagerly awaiting the 20th century when a burglar is saved by a white horse. This incident will change his life forever. About a hundred years later a young, formerly very rich, man makes his way east across the country to find out more about the mysterious golden salver his father left him. He intends to board a ship to Europe, but something seems to hold him in New York City. The city has changed with the years, but some things are still the same. Things like the cloud wall.

My Thoughts:

Winter’s Tale is a very complex novel. It’s main focus lies on New York City, but not the New York City we know. Not even New York City as it was around 1900, which is the time the first part of the novel is set in. Mark Helprin created his own version of this famous North American city we all know. If it doesn’t feel weird for you in Part I of the book, wait until you reach Part II. I was really confused! I had no idea what time I was in. Was that still the past (because the language and other details suggested that)? No it wasn’t, but where was I? If you try to find that out with the help of clues you usually pick up on the way, you’re lost. Well I was. I just started to accept it. This world is different even though it shares lots of similarities with ours.

Peter Lake for example. He looks human. He is human. If he would have had a better past, he might have become a normal, working-class citizen of New York. Things turned out a little different though and he starts to do things you can’t comprehend. You could call Peter Lake a main character, but I could be biased by the movie trailer. I’ve thought about it. There are so many characters in this novel. Every one of them is introduced in more than just two pages. At some point it got quite confusing to remember who was who. Many of these characters (e.g. Hardesty & Virginia) are very important and take up large parts of the novel. I can’t say if there really is a main character. What do you think?

As you can see, Winter’s Tale is a rather confusing adventure, but there is one thing that makes it worthwhile: the language! Okay, two. There’s also Athansor, the flying horse. If I had the time, and I hope I’ll have it someday, I would sit down and just read passages of the book for sheer pleasure. Mark Helprin can turn words into magic. Though I have to be honest with you. I did not fully understand Winter’s Tale, but as I’ve seen on the internet, there are many who didn’t, even after rereading it for the xth time. Do I think you should read it? Yes, if you have time on your hands. If you are terribly busy right now, read something light and get back to Winter’s Tale when you feel relaxed.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

I’m wondering how they made such a complex book into a movie. I’m looking forward to Akiva Goldsman’s interpretation!

4 thoughts on “Review – Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

  1. I saw the movie last week without realizing it was based on a book! As you said it was indeed a complicated story though from my point of view in the film they explain things perfectly plus Matt Bomer appears at the beginning (LOVE him) which is just worth seeing the film xD
    I loved your review! it was very detailed and without spoilers, great job =D
    Here is my blog if you want to check it out


    1. Thank you 🙂 I just googled Matt Bomer. He sure looks good!
      I’m still not giving up hope that they’ll show the movie in English somewhere.
      I’m gonna head right over to your blog now 🙂


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