Recommended Reading

Minister Without Portfolio

Michael Winter

HamishHamilton (Penquin)winter1

HC 330 pp. $30.00

            The house has long service as a metaphor in Canadian literature, combining themes of identity and survival. Winter does an incredible job in keeping the reader (well, at least this one) engaged with the story told simply and elegantly, with very little of clutter.

              Henry Hayward loses his girlfriend and wishing to live a more “dangerous llife” signs up with a team contracted for construction services in Afghanistan. Here he  finds camaraderie with the other fellow until his best friend Tender Morris is killed in  an IED explosion for which Henry is responsible. Henry returns to Newfoundland full of guilt and remorse to learn his friend’s partner is pregnant.
            The story moves on exploring how Henry rebuilds himself, and an old house with a complicated history and ownership with half ownership a legacy of Tender’s to his girlfriend  He finds love and redemption in the arms of Morris’s partner and will be the child’s father.  It’s a straightforward narrative arc, only unusual with the skill of its presentation of character built on incident. There is danger in Newfoundland and Henry’s baptism by fire is one of the most effective danger close stories I’ve ever read.  Winter has a knack of recounting incidents, which seem as if they could only have happened in Newfoundland or in one of his novels.

It is a also a moving love story, with few, but very well written sex scenes.

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