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3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  8,946 Ratings  ·  1,252 Reviews
Kathleen Winter’s luminous debut novel is a deeply affecting portrait of life in an enchanting seaside town and the trials of growing up unique in a restrictive environment.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 31st 2010 by House of Anansi Press
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Leigh Williams Perhaps the significance of the orange is in its temptation. Surely something so bright, fresh, and unusual on the landscape of Labrador would be…morePerhaps the significance of the orange is in its temptation. Surely something so bright, fresh, and unusual on the landscape of Labrador would be enough to tempt the hawk. But it didn't take the bait. It was a true test.(less)
Henryetta His father declared that he would be raised a boy (page 26). Then a doctor declared the baby could be raised as a boy after measuring his/her penis…moreHis father declared that he would be raised a boy (page 26). Then a doctor declared the baby could be raised as a boy after measuring his/her penis (page 52). Also, consider the traditions of the time and location.(less)

Community Reviews

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Apr 10, 2014 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is lovely, but it is a mostly subdued novel about an intersexed child raised as a boy, whose fully operational vagina is sewn up at birth and kept a secret from him until a little health issue brings it to light. this is not a broad, epic tale like Middlesex. it is a subtle, lonely story that takes place in a remote part of canada where men provide for their families by trapping game, and women sew and raise both their vegetables and their children quietly.

wayne is raised as a boy, be
Raeleen Lemay
Sep 01, 2016 Raeleen Lemay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, lgbtqia
This novel was very quaint. It takes place in a rural Canadian town, and while I enjoyed the vibe and setting, the plot and characters fell a bit flat for me. I'm glad I finally read this, but I wasn't blown away by any means.
Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews

There are not many novels that explore the lives of intersex characters in fiction, so I was thrilled to pick this up at the library.

Kathleen Winter is a gifted writer. Her beautiful words, vivid images and intimate details of family life totally absorbed and unsettled me.

What I was hoping to get out of this novel was insight into the life of Wayne, an intersex child born in Labrador. (I refuse to use the ugly word “hermaphrodite”). His fat
Feb 26, 2013 jo rated it liked it

this book has great promise, mostly in the beautiful language, but i felt it (the book, not the promise), from halfway through to the end, get lost in the writer's fantastic meanderings. this is what i mean: it feels as if kathleen winter, the author, made a conscious decision not to follow narrative conventions of closure and preferred to follow her soul. her soul dictated to her a free form in which threads are left dangling and non-existent
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
May 11, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it liked it
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Beth Knight
Written with compassion this extremely well received debut novel tells the story of raising a hermaphrodite child in a remote Labrador Village. At its core is the father’s misguided decision to give the child a normal life by dictating he is male, a choice that requires burying his female side with a combination of surgery & hormone treatment. A decision that sets the stage for a lifetime of secrecy, a collusion of dishonesty that threatens to tear the family apart.

The tone of the novel is
Jun 04, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The book was the best novel I have ever read. I normally don't like fiction but this is the first novel that ever made me cry while I was reading. It resonated with me on so many aspects:

•I have been struggling with my sexuality for a very long time. Except for one major difference, which is that Wayne is a hermaphrodite and I am a physically "normal" male, I was astonished at the number of similarities between Wayne and me:
••I have always felt like a female soul out of sync with my body. Ever s
This is a wonderful exploration of the meanings of gender through the life of an intersex child born to a family in a remote village in Labrador in the sixties. Many people are born with handicaps or unusual physical traits, but arriving with both a penis and a vagina and mixed glands to boot is quite a challenge to set for a character and for a reader to comprehend. As much as we have advanced on acceptance of different sexual orientations or choice of gender roles, ambiguity in physical sex in ...more
B the BookAddict
Jan 18, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Well worth reading
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: All About Books group member
Shelves: literary-fiction

This sensitive and powerful novel reads like one from a seasoned author, not at all like a debut novel.

In a small town in Newfoundland when a baby is born with both male and female physical identities, surgery is performed and a secret is forged between new parents, Treadway and Jacinta, and Jacinta’s friend Thomasina. It’s a secret kept from everyone including the child itself. The baby is brought up as a male, Wayne; Treadway is determined to instil masculine skills in Wayne while Thomasina ca
Shannon Wyss
I finished "Annabel" just a couple days ago. And i have to say that i'm incredibly ambivalent.

On the one hand, i was completely engrossed, especially as Wayne was hitting puberty and starting to discover that, yeah, things were quite as should be expected with his body. I found the book beautifully written, with well-drawn characters and a great physical setting.

On the other hand, i really wonder about Winters' use of a main character who's intersexed. It's clear she comes from a feminist backgr
Friederike Knabe
Dec 24, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
The lone white caribou that appears as a vision to the blind hunter is just one of several allegorical animals that appear or are called upon at different decisive moments in the story. White caribou don't move that far south... "Why does anybody break away from the herd?" This allegorical image gives the reader a sense how much Kathleen Winter places nature and landscapes into a prominent position in her debut novel, ANNABEL: she conveys its mystique in a perceptive, almost poetic language, and ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Annabel is one of the most amazing books I've read in a long time. I have to say I was a bit skeptical when I picked it up, as it is a story of an intersexed child born into a family in rural Labrador. I was afraid to find a one-dimensional story with lots of overt politics. Instead, I found a complex story told in beautiful language that brought the land to life, as much as the lives of the people who find themselves in an extraordinary situation, totally foreign to this rural community.

The par
Oct 14, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2013 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, intersex
This review is my longest and hardest written yet. If you want a less wordy review, that I agree with almost entirely, check out this one at Quill and Quire.

However, if you press on, I will reward you with a free smiley at the end!

I wouldn't call what you have a disorder. I'd call it a different order. A different order means a whole new way of being. It could be fantastic. It could be overwhelmingly beautiful, if people weren't scared. -from Annabel by Kathleen Winter

I did not read this book a
I expect that everyone reading Annabel will take away something different. Teachers will reflect on their approach; parents will question their actions; health care professionals will question their practice; everyone will question their notions of black and white.

For me, reading the novel was an extremely uncomfortable and unsettling process that uncovered wounds I had long since buried or forgotten that I thought I had recovered from. So many of Wayne/Annabel's experiences were also my experie
Jennifer (aka EM)
Wow, Canada Reads - thank you. A beautiful, poetic book tying loneliness to landscapes and journeys internal and external. Gorgeous GORGEOUS writing. This book opens up your heart and though it is often sad, it leaves you with hope and filled with wonder at people's goodness and the strength of their compassion and connections with one another.
This book was so beautiful that I had to stop over and over again to pause and breathe. It was AMAZING.

Remember when you read Middlesex and you thought, "Gosh, Middlesex was really good, except that it had all these things going on, and Cal seemed kind of distant sometimes" and you wished that there was something just a little better?

Annabel is that book.

It's lush and lyrical, and the protagonist, Wayne-who-is-also-sometimes-Annabel is gorgeously painted. What Winters has done in bringing us thi
Nov 24, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it
Shelves: na-minha-estante
Aug 26, 2016 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-identity
So I gave this book three stars, but I have to say I found it to be pretty disappointing.

(view spoiler)
Bending The Bookshelf
Oct 23, 2015 Bending The Bookshelf rated it liked it
Shelves: intersex
Like Wayne himself, Kathleen Winter’s novel is beautiful, but difficult. It’s remarkably well crafted, full of lovely prose and haunting images. From a pure language standpoint, it’s a delightful read, and one that reminds you what an author can do when she takes the time to choose every word carefully.

Annabel is full of beautiful (but harsh) scenery, and beautiful (but equally harsh) characters. That, I’m afraid, is where my dissatisfaction with the book originates. The story is very cold, almo
Jan 15, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to rate this. I keep fluctuating between 3 and 4 stars but I think I’m going to have to stick with 3. It could be that I just didn’t take the proper time to read this closely enough but it didn’t have as much of an impact on me as I had hoped.

This book was so beautifully written. The way Kathleen Winter works with words creates such a stunning atmosphere and it just sucks you right into it. The story itself was soft and subtle in it’s approach to the subject of W
helen the bookowl
3.5/5 stars.
Even though this was a beautiful book about a very interesting topic of hermaphrodism, I had some problems with its pacing. I loved the beginning where the setting of rural Canada is described beautifully and I loved the characters - even Wayne's father! Normally, I like slow-paced books but something about it in this book didn't work for me. It gradually became more and more tiresome to read, but that feeling was mingled with some amazing scenes and beautiful descriptions that I ha
Jun 12, 2010 A.J. added it
Annabel is the story of Wayne, a hermaphrodite child born in rural Labrador, and his, or her, or "its" difficult journey to adulthood.

A story like this risks collapsing into all kinds of nonsense which is ultimately more political than literary, and the kinds of simplistic conflicts that are, unfortunately, suggested by the jacket copy. But Kathleen Winter is too sensitive and careful a writer to let that happen. It's Winter's characters, rather than any grand ideas about gender or sexuality, th
Apr 04, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
Quietly beautiful and hypnotically written. I am astonished to find that this is a first novel. One scene in particular (which, oddly enough, involved a hawk and an orange) will stay with me a long time.

Interestingly, I found the central conceit (the main character's hermaphroditism) almost a distraction. It may be the "hook" for many readers, but the book doesn't need it, and occasionally it rang just slightly false or desperate. Winter's eye for character, her gorgeous depiction of her setting
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
In 1968 a small community in Labrador, on the eastern coast of Canada, a baby is born to Jacinta and Treadway Blake. Their close friend and neighbour, Thomasina, catches the baby and sees instantly that there is something unusual about it: the baby has a penis and one testicle, and beneath that, fully formed labia and a vagina. The baby is a fully-formed hermaphrodite. Even before Jacinta takes him to the hospital, a plane ride away, over a week later, Treadway has already decided to name the ba ...more
Jennifer Lane
Nov 29, 2011 Jennifer Lane rated it really liked it
Tremendously sad and well written, Annabel is a story about a hermaphrodite raised as the boy Wayne in remote eastern Canada. The characters had such depth, particularly Wayne and his father Treadway. Actually I found many of the characters fascinating--the family friend Thomasina as well as Wayne's friend Wally. But I dearly loved Wayne/Annabel, and had to choke back tears several times reading about his lonely plight.

There were two instances my jaw dropped reading this story. One was an act of
Sep 18, 2012 Petra rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
I loved the descriptions of the land throughout this book. The land is a character unto itself and forms the people into who they are. It’s harsh, embracing, beautiful and stark.
I read this book over 3 days; couldn’t wait to get back to it to find out what happens to Wayne, his parents and Thomasina; how they reconcile their guilt, uncertainty and come to terms with their true feelings.
There are aspects of this book that I’m less satisfied with but without giving out spoilers I can’t elaborate
Aug 23, 2010 Kristina rated it it was amazing
I KNOW that this book will be on my top 10 of 2010 list! It is certainly one of the most unique and riveting books I've read in a while. I'll tell you that when I saw the summary on Librarything I went a little *crazy* trying to get my hands on one. *smile* The author was kind enough to send me this as a gift after noticing my intense desire to read it. I really appreciated that!
It was a completely engaging book with such unique content that I finished all 400 + pages within a day and a half. I
Feb 17, 2011 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2011
This book is a beautiful study in characters. Wayne, or Annabel, the hermaphroditic main character is naturally the person we come to know most intimately, but there is hardly an inhabitant of the his small Canadian town who is not explored complexly. What I like best about this story is that complexity. While Treadway makes the decision to raise his child as a son and hide half of her nature, he is clearly not the villain of the piece. He is a man wise enough to fear society's reaction to the a ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Sep 04, 2015 Kris - My Novelesque Life rated it really liked it

A beautifully haunting novel written with such grace and compassion that I could not put it down till I finished. I first heard about this novel on BBC radio where they had adapted it to radio. I was blown away by it! It was an abridged version of the book so I knew as soon as it ended I had to fin this novel. While it was published in 2010 I read it in 2011 and it is easily one of my favourite novels of 2011 and definitely on my general favorites list.

Wayne has never felt right in hi
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
Though I wasn't initially very 'taken' by this book, once I reached the halfway point I became a lot more compelled to read on. I have never read a book like Annabel before. Though the subject matter certainly isn't something I'm judgemental or conservative about, the way it was portrayed sometimes made me feel a little uneasy. The abusive scene at Deadman's pond made me feel very uncomfortable, but it was effective. Overall, I thought that the writing was very good. I liked the majority of the ...more
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Wayne's feet 2 5 Jan 19, 2017 08:22PM  
Bailey's/Orange W...: Annabel - November Archive read 13 22 Dec 04, 2013 03:04AM  
Quotes & Excerpts: Dr. Lioukras.. 1 9 Jul 18, 2013 10:36PM  
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Kathleen's stories boYs (Biblioasis 2007) won Canada's Metcalf-Rooke Award and Winterset Award. Her novel, Annabel (House of Anansi Press 2010), was a finalist for all three of Canada's major literary awards. It became a #1 Canadian bestseller, was published in 2011 with Grove Atlantic/Black Cat in New York and Jonathan Cape in London, and has been translated wordwide. Her memoir "Boundless: Traci ...more
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“…People are rivers, always ready to move from one state of being into another. It is not fair, to treat people as if they are finished beings. Everyone is always becoming and unbecoming.” 50 likes
“It was not fair, she felt, to treat people as if they were finished beings. Everyone was always becoming and unbecoming.” 13 likes
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