Winter's Tale is a fantasy novel by Mark Helprin. It takes place in a mythic New York City, . best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.'" Among the 22 books to have received multiple votes was Helprin's Winter's Tale. Winter's Tale book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white. Now a major motion picture. New York Times bestseller. "Utterly extraordinary A piercing sense of the beautiful arising from narrative and emotional fantasy is.

Winters Tale Book

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Winter's Tale [Mark Helprin] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A bestseller that takes readers on a journey to New York of the Belle Epoque. About the Book. Set in New York at the beginning and the end of the twentieth century, Winter´s Tale unfolds with such great narrative force and beauty that a. I think I bought Winter's Tale with a Christmas book token, and it's that, along with the snow and frost and icy winds that whip through the book.

Even by my generous standards it would be excessively long. But I have included a link to such a blow-by-blow in the Extra Stuff section if that seems useful. Suffice it to say that in upstate New York there is a Brigadoon-like town known as The Lake of the Coheeries, and some pretty magical things take place there. No, you do not have to wait a hundred years before it appears.

It actually does not appear on any maps, but can be accessed if you know how. It is the source for several of our additional characters, and some fabulously creative images. It lies beyond the crucible zone that surrounds the city, substituting a huge hill of ice and snow as a barrier for the white clouds that enclose the city farther south. But all this seems a maguffin for the real business here, which lies in the themes being addressed.

Themes Mark Halperin has written a love song to New York, well, parts of it anyway. There is a stunning lyricism to his descriptions of the city, alive with romantic vision, yet also fueled by a dose of paranoia and class fear. Small matters like free will, the nature of existence, the relationship between the rational and the spiritual, the nature of time, justice, mortality. You know, stuff. Helprin argues that the spiritual must accompany the rational or the result is a soulless existence.

Well, we've been mechanized. We view ourselves as mechanisms.

This is a trend since The Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, in my view, has two streams - a good stream and a bad stream. The good stream is the beauty of reason, to approach something via scientific method, via logic. The ugly part of The Enlightenment is that if you confine yourselves to those methods, then you are limiting yourself in terms of your understanding of what a human soul is.

By necessity, because you cannot define the soul as it's not subject to proof, human beings become mechanisms. Without faith, a person is a mechanism, and then there's no reason he shouldn't be treated or work under those assumptions, as a mechanism.

The final section of the book opens with a discussion on the infinite qualities of time before again picking up the characters. Peter Lake continues to work as the master machinist, but he often finds himself entranced by the sounds of the machines.

It's as if they talk to him, and he goes into a trance. The other machinists don't know what to make of him. They have an apprentice follow Peter. He reports that Peter wanders the city, never sleeps and gets lost in trances, and at some points it seems as if something invisible speaks to him.

Winter's Tale

The boy could hear noises — static, ocean waves and monks chanting — but no words. Hardesty travels to San Francisco, thinking he might discover clues to Mead's identity. When he comes across a plaque for the Golden Gate Bridge, it mentions something about an eternal rainbow.

He also sees a statue of the bridge's builder that looks remarkably like Jackson Mead. Hardesty returns to New York and confronts the mysterious engineer. Mead admits to plans to build a bridge. Hardesty tells him people will fight it. Mead says they have always fought against his plans, but he prevails. Athansor, the white horse, is now chained to a wheel that he must turn for many hours a day.

Pearly Soames has reappeared in the present time, and he frees Athansor because he knows the horse will lead him to Peter Lake. Hardesty, Virginia and their children take a long-awaited trip back to the Lake of Coheeries. Their horse falls into the ice along the way, but Athansor rescues them and leads them the rest of the way home.

After a few lovely days, their daughter becomes deathly ill. They must take her back to the city to receive care from a trained doctor. Pearly and the Short Tails have followed Athansor to the mystical village. They parachute from the sky and block Hardesty's sleigh. Their horse cries out to Athansor who again comes to their aid. He fights off the Short Tails and makes a path for the sleigh. When they reach safety, he heals the wounds of Hardesty's horse. Peter has a paranormal experience, in which several large men grab him and hurtle him toward the wall of a room.

Peter fears they will kill him, but instead, he passes through the wall as if it were air. The beings continue to hurtle him through barriers, eventually even transporting him through the ground so that he sees every person who's ever died and instantly knows how they spent their final moments.

After this experience, his mind is partially restored. Although he still has amnesia, the trances have stopped. He finds, however, that he's become a kind of living registrar for the dead. Peter has a vague recollection of Athansor and begins searching for the white horse. Praeger is elected mayor and tells the citizens of New York City about Jackson Mead's rainbow bridge. Mead will have to destroy neighborhoods and probably people's livelihoods in order to build it, even though it will be made of light.

Harry Penn is introduced to his chief mechanic and recognizes Peter Lake, but Peter can't remember him. Harry gets Praeger to take him to the Penns' abandoned estate in the Lake of Coheeries.

When they arrive, they discover the Short Tails have killed the villagers. Harry enters his old home and takes down the portraits of his sister Beverly and Peter Lake.

He then sets fire to the mansion before returning to the city with the pictures. Hardesty, who has been searching for a cure for his dying daughter, sees Peter Lake in Grand Central Station. They recognize each other from their brief encounter at the restaurant.

The Short Tails chase them, but Peter finds he now has telekinetic capabilities. He can throw the thugs in the air without touching them. One small Short Tail begs for mercy, and Peter lets him draw close to him. The man asks if Peter has found the horse yet. When Peter says he hasn't, the man laughs and says that it's the horse the Short Tails are afraid of, not Peter. He stabs Peter in the abdomen.

Peter throws the man through air. He disappears in a puff of smoke. Hardesty's young daughter dies, and people begin to riot in defiance of Jackson Mead's plans. Great fires break out, growing into chaos on New Year's Eve. Hundreds of thousands try to flee but flames and rioters entrap them.

The power goes out, but Peter Lake works valiantly, even as his wound pours blood, to bring the machines at The Sun back to life, which he eventually does. As he sinks into unconsciousness, he can feel their power surging through him. It is as if he has become the fulcrum Jackson Mead will use to concentrate the energy and light he needs to create his masterpiece.

Harry Penn wakes Peter and tries to get him to remember who he is. He shows Peter the pictures of him and Beverly. Peter's memory returns. He is also certain of what he needs to do next, but not how he will do it. Meanwhile, Mootfowl and Cecil discuss how they really don't want the bridge to succeed, because it will end the world as they know it. Cecil claims it is too late to stop it now; Peter Lake is back and ready to fulfill his purpose. Peter meets up with Hardesty, Asbury and their families outside of The Sun.

They tell him where to find Athansor. Peter Lake wants to retrieve Hardesty's salver and exchange it for the white horse. Peter insists the others dig up the body of Hardesty's daughter because she is going to live again.

They go on their separate quests. When Peter finally sees the tray, it seems to be a living thing. Peter leaves the salver outside the stable where Athansor is being kept. Then he rides the white horse through the streets in order to get Pearly Soames' attention. Jackson Mead throws the switch to channel energy and light into creating his bridge, and for a few minutes, he is successful.

Light rises from the city in all directions, diffusing together to form a kind of silver road. After a few minutes, the light begins to shiver and the bridge disappears. Peter dismounts Athansor and orders the great horse to return to his home. Pearly confronts Peter, eventually showing him the butchered remains of an animal he believes to be Athansor.

But then they hear hoof beats thundering, and Peter knows it is the white horse trying to gallop fast enough to fly again. He tells Pearly that he knows what he must do now, and he positions himself under Pearly's sword.

Pearly drives his sword through Peter Lake, killing him. At that moment, Athansor takes to the air, disappearing into the white cloud, never to be seen again. The sun rises, and a beam of light strikes Hardesty's salver, still lying outside where Peter had left it. It fills the surrounding courtyard with a golden light. Hardesty, his family and friends are returning to the city with his daughter's body.

As they approach the cloud wall surrounding the city, his daughter returns to life. Hardesty has a vision in which they are all lifted up into the clouds. The city below seems to be alive and holy. All the rivers and bays surrounding New York are now gold. In an epilogue, we are told that Jackson Mead will try to build a bridge back to the place out of which he'd been cast. The people of New York rebuild their city. Pearly Soames is left in this new city to provide a sense of balance, evil among innocence.

It is hinted that Hardesty's daughter, the young girl for whom Peter Lake sacrificed his life, will one day be called to do something similar. Christian Beliefs Pearly says that he knows what color is because he's seen it in a flash from heaven and in the Devil's tricks. The gates to the immigration station are compared to St. Peter's gate in heaven. Mootfowl says a bridge is God's signature on Earth.

He has the boys in his care pray for Meade's bridge. Peter also contemplates St. Stephen, who was believed to have changed forms and travelled through time.

Later Peter attends church for the first time. He tries to pray but feels tongue-tied. He wonders if people pray as if they are giving orders to a waiter. Isaac Penn tells Peter that God is not fooled by someone's silence.

He also reminds Peter that God created the world in six days; Peter should try to imitate God and tell his story succinctly.

Virginia compares New York City to God's crucible — its cruelties and heartaches are a way to refine a person's character. Gamely thinks the harsh weather means God is agitated. People stuck in a train pray to God for help. Virginia believes that churchmen burn themselves up searching for God, but that if you have genuine faith, you meet your responsibilities and wait for God to find you. The discussion of time at the beginning of section four examines the idea of free will.

Although God is not mentioned in the text, the author clearly tries to explain how time only exists on a "line" to those with limited thought. An omniscient being understands that nothing is predetermined, but everything has already happened. Virginia tells her children that God set the world spinning long ago and then forgot about it. Sometimes, when everything seems to work together to serve beauty and justice, God is reminded of humans.

Harry Penn says that as one nears death, you see your life, as if an angel were showing it to you, as if you stood on a cloud looking at it from a distance. Mootfowl is seen in prayer before a portrait of St. Jackson Mead tries to describe time to Praeger in terms that resemble Christian beliefs in an omniscient God that exists outside of linear time — seeing the past, present and future in the same instant. A battle is compared to Armageddon. It is intimated that saints are madmen who have reached some level of enlightenment.

Peter's rants to the air are compared to someone talking in tongues. Hardesty reminds Virginia about the Israelites' exodus. She wonders if he really believes a pillar of fire led them. He tells her no, but that it's a metaphor for something much greater.

At one point, Hardesty feels as though God is speaking to him in mathematical terms, the same language He used to create the universe. Later, after he falls from a great height, Hardesty senses huge men around him, lowering him to the ground. He tells people that the room had been filled with angels. Jackson Mead prays for the right circumstances for his bridge to work.

Cecil claims that if the bridge works it will mean eternal salvation, heaven will exist on Earth and we will see God's face. Hardesty's father says that when a man achieves the virtues of honesty, courage, sacrifice and honor, he can stand firm against the storm that comes when seeking God.

Other Belief Systems Much of the book deals with the balance of good and evil. The author states that New York needed criminals to maintain its equilibrium. When Beverly gets overtired, she speaks like an oracle. The people of the Lake of Coheeries talk of winter gods playing with the storms and stars. Many characters talk of justice as the ultimate goal of this world. Some characters, such as Isaac Penn, perceive a grand plan, an omnipotent being who has the finale already in hand.

Others, like Hardesty seem to think it is a place on Earth that will one day be achieved. The Baymen believe that one day the cloud wall will open to reveal a great city, and when it does, the world will be lit in gold. Characters often discuss God as being an indifferent puppeteer who set this world in motion and then turned away.

A mystical city is discussed in which one had to pass through one of four invisible gates in order to enter: the acceptance of responsibility, commitment to beauty, sacrificial love and a passion for exploration. Because people refused to accept it had been a real place, it was able to live forever. Gamely believes there are monsters that live in Lake Coheeries. She used to watch them as a child and feed them pies. They stopped coming to shore when her father made her stop throwing food.

Season's readings: Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

She believes the point of this life is to shatter time and bring back the dead. Asbury's grandfather believes that machines have a soul, because everything that moves has a soul. When Peter Lake walks through the machine room, he is described as feeling like Muhammad in Bismillah. The cloud wall is said to have tried to lift life from the uninhabited lands of New York long before the first millennium. It seems to have a will of its own, longing to draw life from people and machinery.

It had to wait until the dawn of the third millennium, when machines called out like a choir across time, and when a just man Peter Lake finally existed, to reach out to the city again and succeed in turning its rivers and bays to gold. A hardboiled egg is said to look like the Aztec sun god. The Baymen have a legend about the last days of the world. At that time, a rainbow will rise from the frozen waters and stretch over the white wall. The last of the Baymen sees the beginnings of Jackson Mead's bridge and believes it might fulfill that prophesy.

A character says that dreams are not a tool of this reality, but a gateway to the next. Athansor, the white horse, is said to pass beyond the white cloud and into another dimension of time and space.

Authority Roles Isaac Penn, Beverly's father, is a self-made man with a strong love for his family. He believes in the equality of all men and holds no separation of social stations in his house.

His hired help eat with the family. He does everything he can to help his daughter beat her illness.


He questions Peter Lake about his intentions with Beverly, and although Peter admits he was a thief, Isaac trusts him when he says he has no designs on the Penn estate. Hardesty's father tried to instill both of his sons with a sense of wonder about the world and a desire for justice for all.

Only Hardesty learned the lessons. His father's prized possession was the gold salver.


He often read the words inscribed around it to his sons: honesty, courage, sacrifice and patience. These were the things a man should pursue, not petty things like wealth and fame. Lord and Lordy are used with oh.

Jesus' name is used alone and with Mary and Joseph. Christ is said alone and with sake.

The words d--n, a--, b--tard, b--ch and the f-word with head are used. H is used alone and with the phrases go to and what the. Other objectionable words include pee, penis, pimp and son of a whore. The British swear word bloody is also used. Pearly Soames is described as a man who naturally wants to kill babies and cripples. He wants to crush them to silence their cries or the sound of their wheelchairs. Pearly's father tried to cut his throat when the child was 4.

One of Pearly's Short Tails is ground up into bits by a train. Another drowns in the pipes below the city. Pearly describes his plan to kill the Baymen so he can have their land.

As a boy of 12, Peter Lake uses his sword to defend himself from a samurai intent on killing him. After several quick thrusts, he winds up almost disemboweling the attacker. Peter is tricked into helping Mootfowl commit suicide. While Mootfowl is hidden behind a screen, he orders Peter to strike a hammer to release an oak beam.

The beam strikes the screen, forcing a metal spike on the other side to pin Mootfowl to the wall. A coroner explains the violence and illnesses that kill the poor.

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His cutting of a body is told in detail, as are descriptions of the mangled corpses in the morgue. Peter and Athansor receive many wounds at the hands of the Short Tails. The thugs pierce and shred the white horse's body with pikes and shoot him in the face. Peter does not want to die at Pearly's hands and so orders Athansor to jump from a bridge, fully expecting to fall to his death.

Instead, they are caught up in the cloud wall. Many children are killed in an apartment fire. During the storm that kills his brother, Asbury cuts an artery in his head, and blood is said to fly everywhere. Christiana witnesses a man getting chased by a gang into the streets where he is beaten with steel pipes and chains and then shot.

For sport, men bring horses into an arena, chase them down and kill them. When they try to kill Athansor, he flies around the arena and kills his attackers. Some of the images Peter sees during his paranormal "flight" through the graves of the dead are graphic. The Short Tails find Peter on a lake and try to kill him.

By skating between two of the thugs with guns, he tricks them into shooting each other. Harry Penn shoots three men intent on mugging him. Pearly Soames lays the pieces of what he believes are Athansor in front of Peter. Pearly drives a sword through Peter until the hilt touches his shoulder. Pearly fantasizes that beyond the cloud wall might be bare-breasted dancers and naked women. Baymen sleep with their sisters. Peter sleeps with his adopted sister at the age of When he arrives in the city, he tries performing the Baymen mating dance to get women to take him to their home.

He makes friends with two gypsy girls who take him home. They strip in front of him. When he looks at them after taking off his clothes, they are already in bed having sex together. It is not described visually, but he remarks on the noises he hears.

They allow him into their bed to "satisfy" himself several times before he falls asleep. Deacon Bacon bathes with the boys when they are first brought to Rev. Overweary's Home. Harry Penn and his friend skip school to see the young girl dance half-naked. They also bought what was considered pornographic pictures showing women with their arms and legs exposed.

One had her chest exposed.Also, I hate absolutes. Stealing: Peter is a thief as are many other characters in the story.

Characters often discuss God as being an indifferent puppeteer who set this world in motion and then turned away. The movie focuses on the first pages about Peter and Beverly's magical romance. Peter Lake's as Mark Helprin insist on always refering to him by both names nemesis and former boss, Pearly Soames, isn't much better - he's the literary equivalent of Bluto from Popeye: But all this seems a maguffin for the real business here, which lies in the themes being addressed.

Pearly confronts Peter, eventually showing him the butchered remains of an animal he believes to be Athansor. His story is the primary character-driven thread here. The machine was touching the summit of its ascendancy.

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