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Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin: New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake--orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying. Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beseiged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.
If you enjoyed "Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin, you may enjoy these titles for the great writing, the philosophical undertones and a dash of romance:
The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen
"In the fall of 1900, Dr. Gustav Uyterhoeven left the chess garden that he and his wife, Sonja, had created together in Dayton, Ohio, and journeyed to South Africa to serve as a doctor in the British concentration camps of the Boer War. Over the next ten months he sent twelve chess pieces and twelve letters back to Sonja. She set out her husband's gifts as they arrived and welcomed all the most faithful guests of the garden to come and hear what he had written - letters which told nothing of his experience of the camps but described an imagined land called the Antipodes, where all the game pieces that cluttered the sets and drawers of the garden collection came to life to guide the doctor through his fateful and wondrous last adventure."-catalog summary
Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
"Extravagant, inventive, emotionally sweeping, 'Corelli's Mandolin' is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history. The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad. Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army. Caught in the occupation are Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman, and the two suitors vying for her love: Mandras, a gentle fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island. Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, 'Corelli's Mandolin' is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving."-catalog summary
Little, Big by John Crowley
Edgewood is many houses, all put inside each other, or perhaps across each other. It's filled with and surrounded by mystery and enchantment: the further in you go, the bigger it gets. Smoky Barnable, who has fallen in love with Alice Drinkwater, comes to Edgewood, her family home, where he finds himself drawn into a world of magical strangeness.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
"Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.
They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic." So opens our story, set in the early nineteenth century when magic is no longer practiced, merely studied by theoretical magicians. But then the York society of magicians discovers that there is one last practicing magician in England, the fussy and reclusive Mr. Norrell. The story that unfolds over the next 781 pages incorporates magic, of course, but also romance, mystery, poetry, folklore (real and imagined), history (the Duke of Wellington plays a role), and horror, all written in the style of Jane Austen and with the storytelling skill of Charles Dickens. Don't be put off by the length of this book - it's a pure joy from start to finish. - reviewed by Caroline Parr
Time and Again by Jack Finney
"Sleep. And when you awake everything you know of the twentieth century will be gone from your mind. Tonight is January 21, 1882. There are no such things as automobiles, no planes, computers, television. 'Nuclear'
appears in no dictionary. You have never heard the name Richard Nixon." Did illustrator Si Morley really step out of his twentieth-century apartment one night -- right into the winter of 1882? The U.S. Government believed it, especially when Si returned with a portfolio of brand-new sketches and tintype photos of a world that no longer existed -- or did it?"-catalog summary