The Winter in Anna: A Novel
“There are lives that end badly,” says our narrator, Eric, at the beginning of Winter. That we know from the first paragraph on the first page that a woman named Anna commits suicide only heightens the heartbreak and poignancy of this quiet story. Eric, a successful newspaper editor, married and the father of a daughter, has never forgotten Anna, a single mother he worked with when he was twenty years old, at a small-town newspaper in Shannon, North Dakota. Their friendship was intense but temporary; it was always inevitable that Eric would move on to bigger places, bigger things. The impact Anna has on Eric’s life isn’t immediately apparent. In some ways, only after she dies can Eric fully understand what she meant to him.
The gruesomeness of Anna’s suicide shadows the entire book, and her pain and desperation take on new depths as we come to learn the terrible details of her life. Still, the story is ultimately Eric’s, as he finally sees clearly his own misperceptions. Structured as a middle-aged man’s pensive reminiscing about youth and youthful mistakes, Winter wisely veers toward unexpectedly dark and uneasy strands of regret.
W. W. Norton & Company