Wintering by Peter Geye
Peter Geye’s new novel, Wintering, continues the story of the Eide family from an earlier novel, Lighthouse Road.
The story primarily concerns Gustav “Gus” and his father Harry Eide, at its centre several winter months in 1963 when Harry and Gus leave home to spend the winter in the wilderness. Home is Gunflint, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior. A town with a history of only a few generations, the Eide ancestors some of the earliest.
The Gunflint Historical Society is newly formed and about to open a museum. Berit Lovig is the driving force behind the project and the former lover of Harry Eide. The story is told by both Gus Eide and Berit Lovig, as personal and family secrets are revealed, and the past meets the present time.
The winter that Harry and Gus spent in the woods nearly lost them their lives, and cost them more than either would ever admit. It is only after Harry disappears once again, lost to this world by dementia and into the woods once again, that Berit and Gus confide in each other. Gus tells Berit the story of that winter in the woods with his father, and the truth about what happened there. And Berit, in turn, tells Gus about her love for his father, and the truth, as she knows it about the lives of his grandparents and great grandparents – all of it unspoken during his father’s lifetime.
Peter Geye’s first book, Safe From the Sea tells another story of a father and son, estranged until near the end of the father’s life when both men are able to put aside their hurt and come to an understanding of the love they share before it is too late.
Lighthouse Road, Peter’s second book, is the story that comes before Wintering. It is about the first settlers in a remote place on the shoreline of a Great Lake, a town that would look much as Parry Sound did in the late 1800s. I don’t think it is necessary to read Lighthouse Road first, though it does provide a background to the story told in Wintering.
Taught creative writing by Joseph Boyden at the University of New Orleans, Peter Geye is a very talented writer with the same love of the wilderness as Joseph Boyden and others of his generation. They fish and hunt and feel a deep connection to the past – bringing it to life in their novels.