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An exceptional and acclaimed writer's third novel, far and away his most masterful book yet.

There are two stories in play here, bound together when the elderly, demented Harry Eide escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the forbidding northernmost Minnesota wilderness that surrounds the town of Gunflint—instantly changing the Eide family, and many other lives, forever. He’d done this once before, thirty-some years earlier, in 1963, fleeing a crumbling marriage and bringing along Gustav, his eighteen-year-old son, pitching this audacious, potentially fatal scheme to him—winter already coming on, in these woods, on these waters—as a reenactment of the ancient voyageurs’ journeys of discovery. It’s certainly a journey Gus has never forgotten. Now—with his father pronounced dead—he relates its every detail to Berit Lovig, who’d waited nearly thirty years for Harry, her passionate conviction finally fulfilled for the last two decades. So, a middle-aged man rectifying his personal history, an aging lady wrestling with her own, and with the entire history of Gunflint.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 7, 2016

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About the author

Peter Geye

7 books241 followers
Peter Geye is the author of the award-winning novels Safe from the Sea, The Lighthouse Road, Wintering, winner of the Minnesota Book Award, Northernmost, and The Ski Jumpers, forthcoming in September 2022.

Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He currently teaches the year-long Novel Writing Project at the Loft Literary Center. Born and raised in Minneapolis, he continues to live there with his family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 368 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
June 27, 2016
Gunflint, Minnesota, a man, elderly now, leaves his sickbed and disappears, leaving his son Gus and his longtime companion, Berit. This is not the first time this man has disappeared, when Gus was seventeen he and his father entered the boundary waters to spend the winter living off the land. This was called Wintering and at the time there was much Gus, didn't know, would find out and what happened during that time would become a secret between he and his father and also change Gus in many ways.

This is one of those quiet books, a book to immerse oneself in and relish the beautiful writing, descriptive prose and the layered plot. The Eides were Gunflint's longest residents, had been there for generations and there story is slowly unfolded throughout the book. Charlie Aas is evil personified, a man who buys or takes what he wants, and is willing to do anything to ensure that his demands are met. This is a generational story, a story about Mother's and sons, fathers and sons and the town they call home. It is a wilderness story, an adventure story and towards the end so suspenseful I was biting my lip. A story of secret revelations, of longing and love. I was so bowled away by this book by the time I finished, I brought this author's two precious books home from the library.

What a fantastic writer, what a wonderful book. At least I though so.

ARC from publisher.
Profile Image for Rae Meadows.
Author 7 books407 followers
June 27, 2016
Wintering is novel you want to curl up with and lose yourself in, but the undercurrent of violence never lets you relax. As he did in his previous stark and wrenching novel, The Lighthouse Road, Geye returns to Northern Minnesota, to the same town, with interrelated characters. This is a two track narrative, the first present day, the second thirty years before being retold. It is the past story I found particularly gripping, with elements similar to David Vann's Caribou Island, Krakauer's Into the Wild, and Cormac McCarthy--a father and son's survival in the brutal winter wilderness, while being tacked by an enemy capable of anything. Place is everything in this novel, and Geye creates a pitch-perfect isolated Gunflint where everyone is descended from Scandinavian immigrants, and the wild world of the boundary waters terrain, like no one else. This is an elegiac book, to be sure, but it moves along as swiftly as one its many river currents.

I have the absolute pleasure of doing a joint event with Peter Geye in Minneapolis this summer, and I can't wait to hear more about how he came to create this novel, and if there will be a third book about the Eide family. A beautiful, moving read.
Profile Image for withdrawn.
263 reviews259 followers
November 23, 2016
A wonderful, even charming book. Thank you Marita for the recommendation.

This is a story of love. It's a father and son story. It's adventure and it's mystery. It's also a great deal of sadness and human perseverance. It's also a discussion of human nature and of weakness and strength. Even a bit of good and evil. Above all, it is the human experience in nature. That just about sums it all up.

As in Peter Geye's 'The Lighthouse Road', he has structured the book so as to keep all of these stories separate and yet, to bring them all together. Not only does he resolve all that he has brought up in Wintering, but he gives answers to questions left over from 'The Lighthouse Road'. And it is all finally rounded out, leaving both sadness and satisfaction.

"These stories that we live and die by, I've learned this much about them: They live on in the minds of old ladies and locked in antique safes, in portraits on a wall and in renovated boats sitting on a lawn. Somewhere, deep in the Quetico, there's one pile of ash and another of bones. They, too, are just stories."

I too have my stories of the Quetico, a region in Ontario along the U.S. border where you can take your canoe and lose yourself in the wilderness, not seeing other people for days. Peter Geye knows how to write about nature. He makes the reader yearn for it, yearn to get lost in it. This is good writing and a good story. Hope I've whetted your appetite.
Profile Image for Aaron Cance.
64 reviews19 followers
May 27, 2016
I grew up on Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers. I still have some nebulous, albeit abstractly pleasant, memories of making the three and a half hour drive north with my dad and grandfather in the late seventies to go freshwater smelting along the Lake Superior coastline. If you tried to describe smelting to someone who had never done it, it would surely sound like some type of insanity - you wait until the coldest part of the night (the water’s a handful of degrees above freezing), unroll a large net, peer into the water with a flashlight for fish the size of your fingers, and drag the waters along the coastline while the smelt make their spring migration to their spawning streams. We were never out there alone - the coastline was alive with the subdued thumping of Willie Nelson songs, the quiet crackle of bonfires, and you could smell the beer in the air. All around us, at a distance, was the vast, otherworldly darkness of the timber. Large smelt are only about seven inches long, so it takes a bunch to feed a family of six - but that’s neither here nor there because a good run will bring up a net full of the tiny, flipping fish. In the end, we’d sleep away the drive home, and ate beer battered smelt for a few days and freeze the rest for other meals, firmly convinced that there’s nothing so indescribably delicious as eating right out of nature’s hand.

Over the years, pretty much everything in this heavily forested part of the world has changed, except, perhaps, the seemingly limitless expanse and potential ferocity of its wilderness, and I’ve become convinced that there aren’t very many writers who have captured it in its beautiful and violent fullness as well as Peter Geye has in his work. I’ve felt the razor coldness of the north shore air, smelled the heady greenness of its forests, and heard the ice snap and pop like gunshots beneath my feet. This landscape is reborn, and yet remains true, in Geye’s work, and when his new book, Wintering, hits the bookstore shelves next month, it’s truly cause for celebration on many levels.

First and foremost, readers will find, in Peter Geye, an author who creates with both brutality and deep sensitivity, his work having the rocky edges of a Cormac McCarthy novel, but who’s characters have, also, an uncommon psychological depth, some of which is laid bare before his readers and some of which is felt, almost as intuition. Make no mistake. This is truly a gift. It’s one thing to explain in your work what your characters think; it’s another thing altogether to write in such a way that your readers can actually feel what what they’re thinking. In his haunting previous work, The Lighthouse Road, Geye explores the diaphanous frontier between the ferocious landscape of the Minnesota northwoods and the psychology of its population, directing his readers into the darkened wilderness behind the eyes of each of his characters. Delightfully, this is not an anomaly unique to his second book, but is, indeed, the driving force of his new novel, Wintering, and Geye knows these characters - these families - intimately because they are the descendants of the characters who populated his previous book.

Wintering opens with Gustav (Gus) Eide, grandson of The Lighthouse Road’s Odd Eide, visiting close family friend (and narrator) Berit Lovig, His aged and ailing father, Harry, it seems, has disappeared into the frozen wilderness just outside of town, presumably for the final time. The atmosphere is bittersweet, and over the course of ensuing visits to Berit’s home, Gus begins to gradually disclose the yet-untold account of his father’s previous disappearance - one that took place some thirty years earlier - when Harry and a then eighteen year old Gus left Gunflint with a reconstructed map, setting out to cross seemingly immeasurable tracts of woodland to find, and “winter” at, the mythic Fort le Croix, as did French-Canadian voyageurs generations earlier. But Harry has not been altogether honest with his son, and, unlike my considerably gentler interactions with this landscape, what begins for Gus as a journey seemingly meant to repair their tenuous relationship turns into nothing less than a savage struggle for survival,

Aside from being a significant new work of Midwestern literature, Wintering is also a victory, I would suggest, for writers everywhere who are dedicated to their craft. Peter Geye’s first two books, Safe From the Sea and The Lighthouse Road are both beautifully composed novels published by a small, literary-minded press called Unbridled Books, whom discriminating readers would do well to seek out . As an observer of the publishing world, I can’t help but to feel, when a hard-working and talented writer like Geye is picked up by a major publisher of literary fiction like Alfred A. Knopf, that all of the industry’s mechanisms are operating just the way they should be.
Profile Image for Sharyn.
459 reviews7 followers
May 26, 2017
Really more of 2.5 stars. It was ok and I kind of liked it but there were certain things that didn't go over very well for me.

The characters were a bit off. I had a problem with the women in this novel. The main narrator loves a man but never does anything about it - but she waits for decades. She never really has a life - she's just soooo happy when the man she loves finally gets around to her after having a wife and children of his own.

The 18 year old son wonders if he's a man, but when he's put into a position of danger he does not come through at all. Yet this is simply accepted by the author. I would have turned it into a case of life long guilt and doubt.

The "bad guy" is evilllllll - boo, hiss, cardboard cutout. He also does this evil movie villain thing where he talks and talks and talks. At that point I just wanted somebody to shoot somebody and put ME out of my misery.

A very minor character is superwoman. She "salts her own butter." (I googled this - is this a thing?? I don't think this is a thing) Catches her own trout to serve for dinner, irons her husbands shirts, cuts the wood, is a judge, raises successful children, etc. etc. etc. Wow! A paragon in the North Woods!

And what exactly is a "pemmican feed"?? (I googled this - is this a thing?? I don't think this is a thing.) As a community event? Pemmican is survival food - not something you cook up for a gathering. A fish boil, lutefisk dinner or booya would have worked. The author is Minnesotan even if he's not from the northern part of the state. I found things like this jarring.

Overall he has some beautiful writing. But I don't think he has a good grasp of characterization (especially female - crazy, uber-passive, paragon, slut were a bit problematic for me.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Colleen .
382 reviews187 followers
December 18, 2020
I would have liked this much better had I read the first book in the series. But it was for book club and I didn't realize this, so was lost at times, mainly because of the audio listen. I may have liked it better in print. But it was good writing and storytelling and I did get a feel for the great north woods of Minnesota. Brrrr!
Profile Image for Pam Walter.
233 reviews24 followers
August 27, 2016
This is the first book I have read from this author, Peter Geye. I had just come off some heavy duty works of non-fiction and really needed something light and easy, which this did not turn out to be. My husband grabbed this book from the library. I had to show some appreciation of his concern for me, and so I read it. The story line is mostly grim and filled with hardship. It takes place in Gunflint, Minnesota which is along the Canadian border. In the autumn of 1963, a middle aged man, Harry Eide persuades his son Gus, to travel north with him to the desolate borderlands between Minnesota and Canada on a trek which they called Wintering. While the purpose of the trip remains unclear to the son, the father's purpose seems to be winnowing out old ghosts from the past which continue to haunt him. The story moves back and forth between the Wintering trip in the 60s and the second disappearance of Harry Eide in the 1990s.

I would love to rate Geye's book 4 stars because of the lovely descriptive prose, however the convoluted back and forth that the story takes, in addition to the reader having to backtrack to recall how a certain character belongs in the story, and what relation s/he is to the protagonists, makes me give 3 stars. I felt like I needed a family tree, or a town tree to keep track of who was who. When I say 'filled with hardship', there is no one in the core of the story who lives a halfway pleasant and pain free life. The book is written in the first person of Berit Lovig, the lifelong love of Harry Eide. Berit Lovig, spends half of her life pining away for Harry, while he raises a family with another woman. The segments of their lives that they spend together are merely touched upon to sort of tie the time frames together. There is nothing there to help the reader understand the strong bond that exists between Harry and Berit. So the sainted woman, blithely spends more than half of her life doing for other people and living with this unrequited love from afar.

The harrowing horrifying adventures of Odd Eide (Harry's father) and Harry, and 30 years later, of Harry and his son Gusav Eide are page turning and nail biting.

Having lived more than a few well loved years in Minnesota, I adored Geye's use of the Minnesota vernacular. A sentence with a subject and no object: "Can I go with?" and Harry's recollection of past Christmas dinners of Lutefisk made me feel all warm inside. I really expected Harry to express his dismay and concern by saying "Ooftah!"

Profile Image for Wendy Bunnell.
1,260 reviews31 followers
October 19, 2016
After writing several less than complementary reviews for other books that I finished around the same time as Wintering I am so happy to be able to gush glowingly about a book. This is a really good book. I recommended it to my mom, and she is picky. Well, not really, but she doesn't like most of the books I read, but that is mostly a genre issue rather than a "mom" issue. And speaking of which, all of the characters in this book have serious "mom issues" like it is almost a family tradition. So I guess not always agreeing on which types of books to read is a rather minor mom issue.

My main complaint about the book was that I read Wintering but haven't yet read Lighthouse Road so I didn't have all of the backstory of the characters discussed. That is hardly this books' fault. Why would I do such a thing? There is a good reason. My local library book club is discussing this book in a week, and I finally broke down and bought it after a long, long stint on the waitlist. And we're reading this one and not Lighthouse Road because the author is coming to our library to talk about Wintering the following week. Yeay! We get to meet the author (who is a local guy, I live in Minnesota), so this isn't a shocker, but it is a reason to read this book out of order.

I read Safe From the Sea a month ago because I could actually get a copy of that one from the library, and really liked it. This book has some similar features, but a more compelling plot in the "past" story. I think more could have been done in this book for the current day plot, but it wasn't bad - it just didn't tie up entirely as nicely as the other one.

Things in common:
1. a cold Minnesota winter
2. a father-son relationship
3. mom issues
4. a current story and a past story which is revealed to another character in a sequence of story telling sessions
5. poor choices and options for women
6. living in remote areas that are hard to get to for city folks
7. "dogs" which might actually be wolves. Be careful when you go to pet the dogs.
Ok, maybe that last one wasn't in both books, but dang, I love wolf dogs hanging around, eating table scraps and then disappearing for weeks on end.

The imagery is beautiful, especially during the 1960s winter trip with Gus and his dad. The characters were for the most part pretty well developed. We have no idea how Gus was able to break the family curse and actually marry someone who stuck around to raise kids with him, but kudos to him, and for Berit for finally, after decades, being with her one true love. That all happens before the start. Pretty much everything that happens is flashbacks and backstory. I think the present could have had a little more action, but the whole story is so haunted by ghosts, there is hardly room for the living characters to spin a new plot in this space maybe.

I can't really say more about what happens, as that is the mystery, the big reveal, and once I start I won't be able to stop. So you'll have to read it for yourself to find out.
Profile Image for Jill.
1,167 reviews1,639 followers
April 10, 2016
Four years ago, I had the pleasure of reading Peter Geye’s novel Safe from The Sea, which – at its heart – was about fathers and sons. In that book, the son procures and sold ancient maps as a career although the map he always needed – a blueprint to who is he is and where he stands as a son and husband – remain elusive.

I start with Peter Geye’s former book because similar themes abound in this one. Although it is being dubbed a “60 year saga”, the heart of the story focuses on a time in 1963, when Harry Eide and his 18-year-old son Gustav embark on an audacious, risky, and indeed, life-threatening journey to the northernmost Minnesota wilderness to spend time “wintering” and living off their own dexterity and wits. A theme from Safe from the Sea is seen here, too: Harry carries maps that are virtually useless and in important ways, both father and son are lost.

Unbeknownst to Gus, his father Harry has his own agenda. The journey will be pivotal to Gus. As another character says, “Every person, I have come to believe, has a moment of a place in life when all four points of the compass coverage from when or where their life finally takes – for better or for worse—its fated course.” Gus is about to meet that moment.

Intertwined with this story is one that is told in first person by his father’s true love Berit, now an elderly woman who has waited a lifetime for Harry. As an adult Gus tells her stories, she shares some of her own and a pattern of generations of the Eide family emerge, filled with heartache, pain, betrayal, passion and love.

I’ve seen Peter Geye’s writing style compared to Cormac McCarthy (any author who writes powerful nature scenes seems to receive that comparison), but in reality, his style is closer to David Vann’s or Rick Bass’s…with echoes of Joseph Conrad. As in these examples, Peter Geye writes exquisitely about the magnificent yet often unforgiving Minnesota terrain, which becomes a character in its own right. His sentences bristle with tension and portent – so much so that the reader cannot look away.

If there’s a fault in this book, it’s with the inevitable villain, Harry’s nemesis Charlie, who is evil incarnate. Whenever he’s on the pages, a chill goes down one’s spine, yet more nuances would have – counterintuitively – made him even more feared. Also, I questioned why Peter Geye used first-person in Berit’s chapters; her voice was not all that distinguishable from the author’s. Still, this is a book that caught me by the throat and maintained its power throughout. At irs core, it’s about the power of relationships and the power of stories.
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,353 reviews452 followers
February 10, 2017
Berit Lovig has loved Harry Eides ever since first meeting him when they were both 16, and now 60 years later, he has slipped from his bed and rejoined his fate in the wilderness. Over the next several months, Gus, Harry's son, tells Berit first hand the story of what happened 30 years before, the fall and winter of 1963, when he and Harry set off in two canoes into that same wilderness. As these two narratives unspool and converge, the history of the town and its inhabitants with their secrets and interconnections become revealed. Both storylines are equally compelling - the human as relayed by Berit, and the adventure as related by Gus. His account of his father's and his journey into the Minnesota borderlands is at turns exhilarating and horrifying, so vivid and clear.

This is the kind of meaty fiction that made me first fall in love with reading. The writing is powerful - hints are given that are not revealed until Geye is ready. Much tension, despite the fact that the reader knows Gus and Harry survive that arduous journey, but that doesn't lessen the power of the prose. This is the first of this author's three books I've read, and definitely not the last.
Profile Image for Abby Fabiaschi.
Author 3 books581 followers
May 30, 2017
Fans of Per Petterson’s fabulous novel OUT STEALING HORSES should pick up Peter Geye’s latest WINTERING.

Not in a hurry for the story to unfold, but aware of his pacing, Geye let’s readers learn about what really happened the winter that Gus and his father Harry set off on canoes to spend winter in the wild with only this as an explanation: “Folks always chase their sadness around. Into the woods. Up to the attic. Out onto the ice.”

Through alternating views of Gus and Harry’s late-in-life lover Berit, the rough and wise Eide men deliver three generations of observations and truths. Harry’s father, Odd, used to ask anyone who came to him with trouble the same simple question: “Can you get ahead of it?” As you delve into Harry and Gus’s journey— why they’re there, where they really are [and aren’t], and the chances that they’ll make it back— you start to wonder if, in this instance, the answer to Odd’s question is no.

During parts of the story I grew angry with Harry, whose son was often in the position to ask his father different versions of, “I’m safe with you, right?” The dynamics of their relationship was exposed throughout the story. “I shot the bear because we’re going to need food. A lot of it,” Gus explains at one point to his father. “You shot the bear because I told you not to.”

It was Gus I fell in love with, offering insights like, “Memories are as much what we’ve forgotten as what we recall," but Harry was easy to forgive because he acknowledged his role in life’s lows so freely. Of his cheating wife, he said, “…all the horseshit that’s going on between us is as much my fault as hers. That’s usually the case when things get this far gone.”

Berit’s insight offered a needed feminine touch to counter all the testosterone in this book. When Gus hits a wall in his capacity to understand, Berit guides the reader through. “How could she be a mother?” She asks us. "She was no one’s child.” As you piece together the story, it becomes clear that no one knows the whole of it. To which Berit points out, “Who ever does?”
Profile Image for Candice.
1,411 reviews
August 21, 2016
The writing is absolutely beautiful. The descriptions of the winter woods in Minnesota made me feel like I was there. What I had a hard time with was the characters. It seemed that almost every one of them had a sad or even horrible childhood. Many of the adults ranged from nasty to cruel. The one exception was written in such glowing terms that she seemed more a caricature than a real person. I did like the way the story skipped between the trip that Gus took with his father, Harry, in 1963 to the 1990s when he tells the story of what really happened on that trip to Berit Lovig, a woman who was in love with his father. Since Gus is telling the story and Harry has just disappeared, we know that they survived that trip and there is not much suspense to the book. Still, it is a good story with phrases that you will want to read over again for their beauty.
Profile Image for Travis Mulhauser.
Author 6 books106 followers
December 5, 2016
I loved this novel. The scope of the story is really ambitious and sweeping and its pulled off, which is impressive enough, but its also the line by line excellence and imagery that impresses--hard to write such a big story and still kill it on the level of the sentence and that happens here, particularly with some of the imagery and landscape.

I loved the end, which was surprising in a way that made perfect sense, which is basically what great endings do. Bravo!
Profile Image for Sandy.
262 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2018
Thriller? No. Mystery? I guess you could say that. Really, it read a bit more like a soap opera. I enjoyed the story with all the northern Minnesota references and found myself wanting to know what happened next. However, as the final chapters were unveiled, I found the characters and their lives to be too unrealistic and unrelatable. The audio version had an excellent reader, so it made the time listening fly by.
142 reviews85 followers
September 6, 2016
Mr. Geye just keeps getting better and better. Please read "The Lighthouse Road" before reading this new book as "Wintering" is a continuation; you will not be disappointed.
543 reviews1 follower
July 27, 2019
Peter Geye is one of my favorite authors. He reminds me of Ivan Doig. Both authors allow me to block out whatever is going on around me as I read their exquisite prose.

Wintering is part of the Eide Family story told from Berit and Gustav's POV. Berit has loved Harry, Gustav's father, for sixty years. She waited for him until he finally came to her after Gustav's mother left.

Wintering opens with Gustav telling Berit that Harry has wandered off and how he will never be found. This prompts Gustav to begin telling Berit about a time when Gustav was 18 and he and Harry went off on a hunting trip that lasted months and ended in tragedy. But Berit has a story of her own to tell Gustav. The two stories coming together are woven masterfully by Geye.

Geye's writing is captivating and his characters are so perfectly drawn you are in the middle of the killing winter landscape and feel the villain's vindictive, vicious taunting. The townspeople and other minor characters can be seen as the backbone to the story.

Two notes: Read The Lighthouse Road before Wintering and be aware there is one rather gruesome scene in Wintering involving a dog - you'll see it coming - skip the next two pages.

Profile Image for Maureen Grigsby.
857 reviews
July 23, 2019
Wow, what a powerful novel about a father/son relationship, as well as the woman who loves them both. This is the story of a small town in Minnesota and a brutal trip into the wilderness as winter is beginning. The writing in this novel was exquisite! I will definitely be reading Peter Geye’s other books!
Profile Image for Wayne.
314 reviews15 followers
April 2, 2019
Peter Geye is one of my favorite Minnesota writers. No, Peter is one of my favorite writers - period. This multigenerational father/son story returns to the hardscrabble North Shore Gunflint Trail, the Eide family mysteries and intrigue, with a heart-pounding Boundary Waters survival adventure thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Laura (booksnob).
934 reviews35 followers
July 31, 2016
Wintering by Peter Geye

We are all connected. Everything is connected and this is evident as you read and piece together the lives of the characters in Wintering.

Wintering starts with the disappearance of Harry into the Northwoods of Gunflint, Minnesota. He has a degenerative disease and while search parties are sent out, his son Ode knows, Harry won't be found. The disappearance prompts his son to tell Harry's sweetheart, Berit, the true story of what happened to them in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, one winter, 30 years ago.

The great love of Harry's life, Berit, and his son, Ode, alternately tell the story of Wintering, as they go back and forth in time to tell the history of a life and their connection to Harry's love and the land where they live.

Berit fell in love with Harry the first day she saw him, back when she was a teenager, but Harry married someone else. When Harry found out his wife was cheating on him he planned a winter trip into the woods with his son,Ode, who had recently became an adult. They left in two canoes and set off to follow in the footsteps of the old voyagers and maybe to winter in one of their camps before the November snow. What they found and what found them is a thrilling part of the story and you, dear reader, are going to be turning the pages really fast to find out what happens.

Geye is an excellent storyteller and he has created a cast of characters that will live in your heart and stay with you for a long time. Wintering is the story of a family, full of secrets, denial, love, hatred, mischief. Wintering is a story of surviving. Surviving, the extremes of life in a landscape that is covered in snow for 9 months of the year and the trails and tribulations of life.

Peter Geye is one of my favorite authors. Wintering is his 3rd book and all three take place in Northern Minnesota. Wintering can be read as a stand alone book or in conjunction with The Lighthouse Road. The Lighthouse Road tells the story of Harry's grandmother and it is where the reader is introduced to the characters who live in the town of Gunfight. His books are always atmospheric and the location, in the North woods of Minnesota, is a great character.

If you are looking for a hot read to keep you cool this summer. Wintering is it!
Profile Image for Kerry.
803 reviews93 followers
November 20, 2020
This was such a great audio book. I had the print on my shelf for many months and finally it was at the top of the stack for fall and winter selections. It was a gripping start to winter reads that will be hard to follow. A family drama with two time lines, one in the present day and one the son telling of a canoe trip he and his father took to the upper reaches of Minnesota wilderness in winter. Not a trip for the faint hearted and this one brought out a mixture of truths for both father and son. I understand now this is the middle book in a trilogy about this family. I am anxious to continue on with this saga but at present trying to decide if I should go back and read the first book or continue on with the next. Either way I am so glad that this book was brought to my attention and I would recommend it highly especially if you have any experience with the brutal winters of the far North and love a great atmospheric novel with a complex family story. I certainly didn't expect it to be 5 stars but it was in so many ways. Great writing, great story and nature, nature, nature. One for reading in front of the fire on a cold winters night.
Profile Image for Laura Hoffman Brauman.
2,542 reviews35 followers
January 4, 2017
4.5 stars. This was an exquisite slow burn of a novel. Set in Gunflint and the Boundary Waters area, the ruggedness and stark beauty of the area -- especially in winter, is very much a character. Geye clearly loves and has an appreciation for the region. Some of what resonated for me was the descriptions of the area and being out on those lakes, looking at those maps, and relying on the person you are with for the decisions being made. Wintering explores the way the ghosts and sins of the past weave their way through generations, always making their presence known, even when you don't realize it at the moment. It's also a beautiful look at the relationship between a father and son. The tension in this novel builds slowly, but it is always there, holding you and keeping you turning the pages. Good read.
Profile Image for Thomas.
Author 4 books115 followers
December 29, 2016
I was fortunate to read this in manuscript form and I believe it to be Peter's finest work. What I love is how this work is in conversation with his second novel, Lighthouse Road, the characters and story worlds intertwined, deepening the experience and reader's connection to the Eide family saga.
549 reviews26 followers
January 7, 2021
I didn't realize until after I finished this story that it is the second in a series of books. I MUST stop and read book #1 and then follow through with the remainder of stories. There was something about the style of writing by this author that I loved. It almost had a poetic feel to it. The fact that I love books with a water element (and there was sure plenty of that here) and that I read it during the Winter months of January, made it all the more appealing.

This is a story circling the Eide family. There is much to be said about the Eides -- not all is good and not all is even correct. Looks can be deceiving and sometimes what people believe about us is what we want them to believe. In a smooth transition from past to present, you hear the story of Harry and his son Gus. Harry is up in years and senility has taken its toll on his mind. He has wandered from home into the wilds and waters of northern Minnesota. The prospects of his being found are not good. In the midst of the search, you hear the story of Harry and Gus, who once had an opportunity (or was it a necessity) to Winter together in the woods in solitude and invisible to the outer world. The author writes, "And though I had misgivings - obvious ones, too - one overwhelming thing drives me on: on the borderlands, my father would need me as much as I'd need him. That's what made me so blindly ready to go off with him. What boy doesn't wait his whole childhood to walk along side his father on equal terms?"

The book started beautifully, "Our winters are faithful and unfailing and we take what they bring, but this season has tested even the most devout among us." (Sounds like a description of 2020 with the Covid virus and its effect on all, doesn't it? It almost makes you want to break out in a "now is the Winter of our discontent....")

This is a book of reflection -- of recognizing what is important in our lives and the steps necessary to achieve the hope of Spring. Again, poetically written by the author he states, "Maybe it had taken him that long for the four directions of his compass to come together. Maybe he might now have some peace."

I'm glad I read this in the warmth of my home but loved the ability of this author to expose the reader so magically to the freezing elements and magnitude of the outdoors. This was an emotional story that left my heart ready to face the Spring.
Profile Image for Lisa Van Gemert.
Author 7 books39 followers
March 20, 2020
I created an entirely new category for the book: should-have-abandoned.

It had been recommended (and frankly, I'm disappointed in the people who reviewed it so highly and tricked me), but to me it felt:

- misogynistic
- sloggish (is that a word? is now)
- unncessarily convoluted
- lacking in narrative thru line, causing unnecessary and senseless confusion
- pretentious
- lacking in purpose, while pretending to be purposeful

I kept reading and reading, thinking that something would happen that would make me think, "Oh! All becomes clear now! THIS is why I'm reading it."

No such luck. Just keep slogging through.

The female characters are all flat. They are of three kinds: horrible, impossibly perfect, unreadable.

Unfortunately, it's the narrator who's unreadable.

Why is she in the story? Inquiring minds want to know. Oh, wait, she fries potatoes in bacon fat. Redeemed.

The narration jumps around without warning or reason, and if you really want to finish (I'm worried about you now and want to loan you a good book), you may wish to make a chart to keep track of who's who and when's when.

This is one of the problems with critically acclaimed authors/books. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes. You're supposed to like it, so you write pretentious reviews that celebrate it and fawn over it, all the while, you didn't really like it, but you thought you were supposed to, so you wrote erudite reviews hoping to be in the reading in crowd.

Now, lots of people like different kinds of books, so there is taste. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about this book. This book I actually paid money for. Money I will never get back.

If you are currently reading this book, here's a warning: it does not get better. It does not redeem itself. You will finish just as confused as you were before. The characters will still be confused in your mind because you still won't care one lick about them. You will feel guilty about writing such a harsh review, but you will put those feelings aside for the good of the reading public, and you will hope that the author's editor (who owes me a personal apology - feel free to message me) considers that part of editing is making sure the book is readable. Low bar.

Oh, and I'm an English teacher with a master's degree in English, so it's not like I can't read. I can read. I can read complicated books. But if you're going to make me read a complicated book, you'd better make it worth it. This book fails to do that.

Profile Image for Luke Johnson.
520 reviews3 followers
July 18, 2016
"The last time I read a literary thriller so profound Cormac McCarthy's name was on its spine. But Peter Geye is his own man and Wintering is as unique and menacingly beautiful as its Minnesota borderlands setting." - Richard Russo.

So that quote appears on the cover of the copy I picked up at my local library. Maybe I'm just a slave to buzzwords, but if you throw out the Cormac McCarthy card, you will at the least, get me to pause and read the dust cover. Though after having read the book I think that those who enjoy McCarthy's Border Trilogy (set in Texas/Mexico) will find this border novel (Minnesota/Canada) lacking.

Obviously, McCarthy Geye is not. Nor should he be though similarities can be drawn between the two. Most predominantly for me is Geye's use of unassigned quotes a McCarthyian technique I will always associate with his Blood Meridian. Like McCarthy, it is at times confusing, requiring focus and a fair bit of attention from the reader. Is this a good or bad thing? That's up for each to decide. But where this book spans three generation and 100 years, alternating almost chapter by chapter between the early '60s and late '90s, I view it negatively myself.

Wintering is an enjoyable read just the same. More of a 'fathers and son/daughter' novel than a slice of culture in time novel (ala All The Pretty Horses). With additional elements of man vs man and man vs nature there is something for everyone in its exactly 300 pages. I'm a Kansas boy myself and thus don't relate to people and places of Geye's novel I do appreciate the pace and the speed of the reveal in which the author lays out the events. I just feel as though printing the aforementioned quote on the front cover does the novel more harm than good.
33 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2017
I enjoyed this story of different kinds of survival...survival in the wilderness, the survival of love over time, the survival of children in spite of their parents. The settings are well described and, therefore, easily envisaged. The interwoven stories of present and past are well constructed. The characters are well drawn and often as cold, dangerous, and unpredictable as the locations depicted in the Canadian borderlands.

Mr. Geye writes well, but he attempts to convey how portentious and life-changing the tale is to his main characters through much preparatory pondering on the significance of events before actually relating the events themselves. This heavy handed foreshadowing detracted from the story for me; I believe I would have enjoyed it more if he had stepped out of the way and let the events unfold.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,851 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2016
I love what Peter Geye writes about - the Great Lakes. And I love the way Peter Geye writes. I can easily picture each scene. He makes me yearn to be back home close to my Great Lake (Erie).
Profile Image for Booknblues.
1,118 reviews8 followers
December 31, 2017
Wintering by Peter Geye is the kind of book which I love to read in the heat of our California summers. It works as well as an air conditioner (well not quite.)

The setting is so cold you can feel it in your bones. The border region of Minnesota is notoriously cold:

OUR WINTERS are faithful and unfailing and we take what they bring, but this season has tested even the most devout among us. The thermometer hanging outside my window reads thirty-two degrees below zero. Five degrees warmer than yesterday, which itself was warmer than the day before. I can hear the pines exploding, heartwood turned to splinter and pulp all up and down the Burnt Wood River.

The book details the journey when Harry Eide and his son Gus set out in their canoes with the intent to winter over once they find the legendary fort in the border territories over the Laurentian Divide (where all the waters flow to the Arctic).

It is fascinating and interesting, but it is also suspenseful because there is more to the story that I am withholding, but I will bestow on you this gift:
When he looked up again he saw that wilderness as if for the first time. It was the wilderness of the soul. His soul and all the world’s soul. It was untamable and ungovernable and unforgiving and it didn’t give a damn about him and his proud thoughts. It was not an idea. It was real and had to be lived in, not just visited. No, not lived in. Survived. He had to survive. So he took his compass out again and held it once in each direction and reckoned the world was just that simple if you let it be..

I loved this book. The one drawback is there is another written about the Eide's family which may have explained some of the details, but I think it is fine as a stand alone.
Profile Image for Ekollon.
475 reviews44 followers
June 5, 2017
I did not like this book. It's not that I felt that this book was bad, necessarily (although there were parts of it that drove me crazy; was there really a time ever anywhere in Minnesota where a hat store/post office was called an apothecary?) but that it was entirely not my cup of tea. I am not one for books about survival in the wilderness or small time life in small towns, and the entire book just seemed to go on and on and on. If I hadn't been required to read the book for class, I wouldn't have finished at all. It also took me forever to read, as my eyes kept sliding over the text without processing it, and I kept needing to go back to reread what I'd previously covered because I hadn't digested it. I eventually stopped going back to reread the stuff that I hadn't processed because it wasn't time efficient and just let it go and tried to focus on catching the important bits of plot, and I think I was reasonably successful, but I don't know. The whole thing was just boring to me, but I deeply hope that the book would be incredibly interesting to someone who is more interested in the genre than I am. There were segments of the book that were more interesting (for example, some sections of the book got into more detail of the characters' background and discussed why they were the way they were) but this wasn't enough to make the book palatable to me.
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