Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin: Book Review

I have an affiliate relationship with and Malaprop's Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site. Read more on my affiliate page.
Winter's Tale

3 Stars

I don’t even know where to start with a synopsis for this book, so I’ll just skip that.

I have a feeling that the reason I’m not giving this book 5 stars shows more about what I’m lacking than about what the book is lacking. I felt myself on the verge of a huge epiphany throughout the book, but I just never got there. That has left me incredibly frustrated. Maybe reading through other reviews will help me see what I’m missing.

The language is absolutely gorgeous. It’s just one of those books that is so dense and beautiful that you feel like you could eat it.

This was partly a love letter to New York. The author doesn’t blindly love his city, he loves it warts and all and sees its potential to be something so much more than it is.

Mostly this was a book full of beautiful symbolism that I think was trying to tell me something about life, love, justice, time, immortality, and faith in mankind. Maybe. I was tempted to put this on my “mythology” shelf, because it felt like Helprin was creating something of a modern, American mythology. I have notes scribbled here about what I think this means or that means, but something would always happen to show me that I was wrong in my interpretation of something. I finally just gave up and read the book without trying so hard to figure everything out. I hoped that everything would come clear to me in the end, but it didn’t.

Readers who enjoy lush language, people who love New York, and people who want a book to chew on for a while will probably love this. I truly hate to admit it, but this one defeated me.

Reviewed March 30, 2009

Read an excerpt.


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with IndieBound, Book Depository, and Better World Books and will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:


  1. This sounds like a book I would really like – this is the first time I have heard about it. I have another of his books of my shelf – Freddy and Fredericka – have you read it?

  2. Ooh…perhaps not the one for me…but I love how you described the authors writing style. THAT sounds truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing…and happy reading!

I love to hear from you! Please contact me (menu bar, above) if you're having trouble commenting.