Books·Canadian

August into Winter

A novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe.

Guy Vanderhaeghe

It is 1939, with the world on the brink of global war, when Constable Hotchkiss confronts the spoiled, narcissistic man-child Ernie Sickert about a rash of disturbing pranks in their small prairie town. Outraged and cornered, Ernie commits an act of unspeakable violence, setting in motion a course of events that will change forever the lives of all in his wake.

With Loretta Pipe — the scrappy twelve-year-old he idealizes as the love of his life — in tow, Ernie flees town. In close pursuit is Corporal Cooper, who enlists the aid of two brothers, veterans of World War One: Jack, a sensitive, spiritual man with a potential for brutal violence; and angry, impetuous Dill, still recovering from the premature death of his wife who, while on her deathbed, developed an inexplicable obsession with the then-teenaged Ernie Sickert.

When a powerful storm floods the prairie roads, wreaking havoc, Ernie and Loretta take shelter in a one-room schoolhouse where they are discovered by the newly arrived teacher, Vidalia Taggart. Vidalia has her own haunted past, one that has driven her to this stark and isolated place with only the journals of her lover Dov, recently killed in the Spanish Civil War, for company. Dill, arriving at the schoolhouse on Ernie's trail, falls hard and fast for Vidalia—but questions whether he can compete with the impossible ideal of a dead man.

Guy Vanderhaeghe, writing at the height of his celebrated powers, has crafted a tale of unrelenting suspense against a backdrop of great moral searching and depth. His is a canvas of lavish, indelible detail: of character, of landscape, of history—in all their searing beauty but all their ugliness, too. Vanderhaeghe does not shrink from the corruption, cruelty, and treachery that pervade the world. Yet even in his clear-eyed depiction of evil—a depiction that frequently and delightfully turns darkly comic — he will not deny the possibility of love, of light. With August Into Winter, Guy Vanderhaeghe has given us a masterfully told, masterfully timed story for our own troubled hearts. (From McClelland & Stewart)

August into Winter is on the shortlist for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

Guy Vanderhaeghe is a novelist, short story writer and playwright. His debut short story collection, Man Descending, published in 1982, earned him the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and later Faber Prize in Britain. He would go on to win two more Governor General's Literary Awards: in 1996, for the novel The Englishman's Boy, and in 2015, for the short story collection Daddy Lenin and Other Stories.

Interviews with Guy Vanderhaeghe

For lovers of fiction, Guy Vanderhaeghe is a man who needs no introduction. He's a three time Governor General Award winning novelist whose books have been turned into television miniseries and audiobooks. His latest novel is an epic story set mainly in Saskatchewan in the fall of 1939. Guy joins host Shauna Powers for an extended conversation exploring the many themes of 'August Into Winter'. 20:44
In his first novel in a decade, celebrated author Guy Vanderhaeghe zooms in on a small town in Saskatchewan in the lead up to the Second World War. August into Winter follows two brothers, veterans racked with their own guilt and trauma, who are enlisted to chase down a murder suspect after the town's only constable is killed. The three-time Governor General's Award winner speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about how times of crisis can expose the worst in us – but also provide an opportunity for immense kindness and humanity. 19:49

Other books by Guy Vanderhaeghe

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