By: Annie Seyler
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 13, 2022
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 1, 2022
Annie Seyler treats her audience to a superb novel, The Wisdom of Winter, that portrays a bittersweet journey of life and its full circle experiences.
Beatrice has a good life. Her mother is lovely, "...Mom wears a sleeveless dress with a tight bodice and a skirt that fans wide. She’s like the marigolds in our garden, bright and bold in color that can’t be ignored..." Dad is a good provider. He’s a professor at the University, "...Most mornings he’s here, hovered over his students’ homework, wearing a grownup shirt with sleeves and a collar, khaki pants, and a belt..." As for Beatrice, she’s six and fashion isn’t too important. She wears overalls, has a head of unruly curls, prefers to wear goggles when she collects the eggs from the hen house and a visit with the occasional ladybug is fine by her. Ginny is mom’s best friend. She’s more of a city girl and Beatrice loves it when she comes to visit each year. Ginny has a way of bringing out the true lovely and fun in her mom. But there’s something more percolating just below this happy façade. Things changed that summer when Beatrice was eleven and her brother Oliver, five. The years marched forward and fleeting memories of happier times had a way of fading away the further Beatrice navigated along her road to adulthood.
It's easy to recognize the plight of privilege and at the same time embrace the opportunities it presents. Beatrice tries to understand the benefits of being shipped off to the private school in Vermont, but it’s still lonely. The girls are mean and social skills aren’t her strong suit. She resents her grandfather because his money is what put her here. It is a painful day-to-day existence to navigate when you don’t feel like you belong. It’s lunchtime again and nobody offers Beatrice a seat to join them. There is a teacher, Mr. Whitaker, who is Beatrice’s American history teacher, and his random act of kindness gives her hope. “…He slides his tray and empty dishes out of the way and leans forward with his elbows on the table. Up close like this, I marvel at the smoothness of his skin and the absence of a freckle or a blemish. Although his gaze is a bit intimidating, it’s his smile lines that I am most aware of. Even now, with his neutral expression, wispy threads at the corners of his mouth and eyes expose his nature; on him a smile is ever ready, ever eager to show itself..." There are many moments in Beatrice’s journey ahead that will challenge what is real and what was kept from her… reckonings that will take her far away from the people she thought she loved most in order to heal and eventually return to what matters in her life.
Annie Seyler writes beautiful prose with tender and artistic emotion. Her writing skills are akin to an accomplished painter who has perfected pristine beauty for the beholder to relish. Seyler breathes life into the perils of a young girl coming of age and the baggage she collects and carries into adulthood. She then redirects her audience in the next passage with a sublime nuance that time will heal all wounds. She has exceptional skill with word placement that enables the reader to embrace and behold the magic. There are wonderful layers that enhance the complexities and contrasts of each of the characters in her story, yet together, they work as a superb unit. This is a beautifully written story and a memory the reader will carry well beyond the proverbial ‘the end’. Well done Ms. Seyler!
Quill says: The Wisdom of Winter is a gift box filled with the essence of forgiveness and healing.
For more information on The Wisdom of Winter, please visit the author's website at: annieseyler.com