“The Winter Vault” by Anne Michaels

“The Winter Vault” by Anne Michaels This is a dark, moody book about the relationship between a man and wife. What makes it interesting is the brilliant descriptions of the parts of the world they inhabit.

Anne Michaels describes the rescuing of the temples at Abu Simbel from the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile. It remains a horrifying experience for the thousands of people of Nubia who lost their homes.

In the same way, Michaels brings back the relocation beside our own St. Lawrence Seaway. The novel’s couple, Jean and Avery Escher, are involved in both these undertakings – he as an engineer, she as an avid botanist.

Their own story reflects the intense trials of the work they’re doing which in turn affects their personal lives. Michaels stresses the feeling and need for home. Her book shows what can be saved from the violence of life. Their marriage, though precarious, turns out to be one of these things.

Anne Michaels is a Canadian writer, who lives in Toronto. Her earlier novel, “Fugitive Pieces”, has won literary prizes around the world, and also been made into an acclaimed feature film.

Review by Anne McDougall