Book Club ~ Annabel by Kathleen Winter

I belong to a Reading Group/Book Club. The book that we just finished reading is, Annabel by Kathleen Winter.


{Image attribution: Goodreads}

I did a little research and found that Kathleen Winter was born in the UK, but raised in Newfoundland and Labrador; this is where Annabel is set. It was published in 2010, and won the Thomas Head Raddall Award. It was also a shortlisted nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the 2010 Governor General’s Awards. It was the only novel to make the short list of all three awards in 2010. In 2011 it was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and in 2014 it was chosen for the Canada Reads competition.

Here is a little synopsis of Annabel that I found in Goodreads:

“In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town in Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret: the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.”  Goodreads

At our book club meeting, as you may expect, there was a lot of lively discussion surrounding the book’s central character Wayne/Annabel and the three main support characters, Jacinta; Treadway and Thomasina, as well as the character, Wally.

My thoughts on Annabel:

I found the book both fascinating and very sad. My heart broke every time I thought of Wayne’s loneliness, confusion and emotional isolation.

Annabel is beautifully written, and moves along quickly. Maybe because I live in Atlantic Canada, but I really enjoyed the vivid landscape descriptions. In my mind, I could easily build a picture of the wilderness and rivers. Winter also easily brought to life, the character’s homes and the streetscape of St. John’s (which I have never visited).

I won’t go into any details, but I found the book’s ending disappointing and incomplete.

Based mainly on the ending, I give Annabel by Kathleen Winter, 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Have you read Annabel? If yes, what did you think of the book?

Is this a book you think you may like to read?




  1. Catherine White says:

    I liked the book I felt compelled to continue reading by it`s continued tease as to what might be on the next page, next chapter. But I do have to admit the ending was a little let down.
    Even with the ending, I liked that it sparked such great conversation, as this type of experience still occurs today, but is not discussed in the general public. It tells of mental suffering of not only the main character, but of those closest to him or her.

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