Annabel
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Annabel

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  5,866 ratings  ·  961 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...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 31st 2010 by House of Anansi Press
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Community Reviews

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karen
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...more
Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

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 father, Treadway, makes the deci...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
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...more
jo
*** SPOILERS, OF WHICH I HIDE ONLY THE MAJOR ONE ***

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...more
Eric
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...more
Friederike Knabe
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
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...more
Cheryl
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...more
Davytron
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...more
Dana
So I gave this book three stars, but I have to say I found it to be pretty disappointing.

(view spoiler)...more
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.
A.J.
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...more
Rafe
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...more
Carol
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...more
Kristina
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...more
Amanda Leduc
I've read a lot of books in my short little life. I've read a lot of books (though I will echo my friend Steph, here, in saying that I too don't think I'll ever consider myself to be very well read), and I've enjoyed a lot of books, and I've even been bowled over by one or two texts that have danced across my way. The first book that ever did this for me was The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. The next book that came close, for reasons that were variously different but ultimately led to t...more
Jennifer Lane
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...more
Sue
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...more
Julie
This book is gorgeous and heartbreaking. It's as much about the changing face of rural Labrador as it is about the protagonist. It does fall into that Canadian literature cliche of obsession with winter and landscapes--there are a couple points in the novel where the description of the landscape and the characters' relationship to the land itself almost comes across as tokenistic or overplayed.

The part of the book that absolutely stunned me though was the narrative of the protagonist's changing...more
Bending The Bookshelf
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...more
Kathleen
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
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
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
Jeanne

Beautifully written book about a young person born as a hermaphrodite in 1960s Labrador. Through poetic language and vivid imagery, a complicated, unusual story is told tenderly and lovingly. It is a powerful story of hope that we can eventually bridge the gap between one another so that we can truly be ourselves.
Very highly recommended.

Longer review: http://bit.ly/O9YXqA


Q & A with Kathleen Winter: http://bit.ly/aapbFS
Felice
Hermaphrodite novel number two of my life is Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Annabel is more commonly known as Wayne. He was born to Treadway and Jacinta in a remote coastal town in Labrador, Canada. The secret of Wayne's birth is known only to his parents, the doctor and the neighbor, Thomasina. It is Treadway and the doctor who decide that the neither fully male or female baby will be raised as his son, Wayne. The doctor physically sews up Wayne's female areas and what's done is done as far as Tre...more
Megan
The prose is quiet, lovely. The story is full of details about the characters, and about the natural landscape surrounding the events. It is told in a pretty basic manner, as a tale of growing up and self-discovery, without making a big deal of the fact that it's about an intersexed protagonist. At times the lengthy descriptions of Wayne's father seemed to be going off on a tangent, but it never lost me completely. I wasn't completely satisfied with the end; I wanted to know more about what Wayn...more
Trisha
Jan 15, 2011 Trisha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trisha by: Amy
Shelves: borrow
The Short and Sweet of It
When a baby is born both male and female, a decision is made. The baby is named Wayne, constructed male, given pills, raised as a boy, and all without his knowledge until a traumatic event forces the issue. A fascinating subject with interesting characters, but I just could not get in to this one.

A Bit of a Ramble
I was just bored. I know I should have enjoyed this one: the subject is fascinating and important, covering intersexuality and gender construction. And yet, I w...more
Heidi
All the epic themes appear in this deeply satisfying novel, in particular truth and people’s capacity for it, for its consequences, and how the opposite of truth is fear, which leads to secrets, and how fear and secrets “poison you slowly.”

Winter delivers metaphor after metaphor for how difficult it is to truly love a person or a place unless you accept them in their entirety. European immigrants who force their native flowers and plants on an unsuitable climate can’t truly love Labrador.

Women...more
Rebecca Foster
Inevitably, the whole time I was reading Annabel I was comparing it in my mind with Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex. It differs from Middlesex in two major respects, however: it uses the third-person omniscient perspective (whereas a first-person point-of-view allows Eugenides to create total sympathy for his main character); and main character Wayne is raised male but chooses to be female, whereas in Middlesex Cal has the opposite trajectory.

To me it seemed that Annabel uses hermaphroditism as a...more
Petra
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...more
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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
More about Kathleen Winter...
boYs The Freedom in American Songs: Stories Necklace of Occasional Dreams: A Woman's Journal of Living with Her Husband's Cancer Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage Buchführung leicht gelernt - Aufgaben mit Lösungen 1 - Grundlagen (alfrada Buchführung) (German Edition)

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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.” 23 likes
“It was not fair, she felt, to treat people as if they were finished beings. Everyone was always becoming and unbecoming.” 8 likes
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