Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen

Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen
Publisher/Year: Vintage, 2011
Format: E-book (Libby)
Pages: 400
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

In Isak Dinesen’s universe, the magical enchantment of the fairy tale and the moral resonance of myth coexist with an unflinching grasp of the most obscure human strengths and weaknesses. A despairing author abandons his wife, but in the course of a long night’s wandering, he learns love’s true value and returns to her, only to find her a different woman than the one he left. A landowner, seeking to prove a principle, inadvertently exposes the ferocity of a mother’s love. A wealthy young traveler melts the hauteur of a lovely woman by masquerading as her aged and loyal servant.

Shimmering and haunting, Dinesen’s Winter’s Tales transport us, through their author’s deft guidance of our desire to imagine, to the mysterious place where all stories are born.

What I thought

  • “The Young Man With The Carnation” ⭐⭐
  • “Sorrow-Acre” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • “The Heroine” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • “The Sailor-Boy’s Tale” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • “The Pearls” ⭐⭐⭐
  • “The Invincible Slave-Owners” ⭐⭐
  • “The Dreaming Child” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • “Alkmene” ⭐⭐⭐
  • “The Fish” ⭐⭐⭐
  • “Peter and Rosa” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • “A Consolatory Tale” ⭐⭐

This book is easily the most frustrating book I have ever read. I knew going into it that short story collections can be a bit of a mixed bag, as it is. But while I enjoyed the writing style immensely, I couldn’t help but feel exasperated with these stories, as a whole.

Isak Dinesen writes beautifully, simply put. I can’t begin to tell you how many passages and turns of phrase there were that absolutely took my breath away. The writing itself is why I gave this three stars. I liked what I read, I just didn’t get it.

I like to think that between being a lifelong reader and having taken my share of literature courses that my literary comprehension and analysis skills are, at the very least, decent. So, it was very discouraging to me when, upon completing (what felt like) every story here, I was left thinking “huh?” Especially after reading one glowing review of this after another. Maybe I was just thinking about it too hard, or maybe I’m not as smart as I thought.

Ultimately, I finished this book feeling frustrated because I had hoped to enjoy it so much more than I did. Maybe I’d revisit this if I had the chance to read this with a book club or a class, but for now, I’m glad I borrowed it from the library.

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