Books·First Look

Read an excerpt and see the trailer for Linden MacIntyre's new novel The Winter Wives

The Winter Wives will be published on Aug. 10, 2021. Get your first look now.

The Winter Wives will be published on Aug. 10, 2021

The Winter Wives is a novel by Linden MacIntyre. (Tom Zsolt, Random House Canada)

Linden MacIntyre, the former CBC journalist and award-winning novelist is publishing a new book.

The Winter Wives is the story of two men with a long history: Allan and Bryan. Allan was a football star who got the girl and built a successful business. Byron is quieter, lost the girl he loved to Allan (but married her sister) and is a modestly successful lawyer.

But when Allan suffers a stroke, all his secrets start to come out. It turns out his life wasn't as charmed or as successful as it seemed — and Byron is left to pick up the pieces, while figuring out what this all means for his own life.

The Winter Wives will be published on Aug. 10, 2021.

MacIntyre is a former CBC journalist and novelist. His novel The Bishop's Man won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009. His other books include the novels Why Men Lie, The Only Cafe and the nonfiction book The Wake.

You can read an excerpt from The Winter Wives below.

And now I know neither where I am nor why. Suddenly awakened as if from a coma. Clearly on an airplane. On the aisle, where I always try to be when I'm on airplanes. I stare past the passenger beside me, out the starboard window, and see a wall of black skyscrapers rising, and then the tower. The landmark tower. We are floating down the black skyscrapers and the tower and there is grey, flashing water rising up to meet us. Then the tower is gone and all the dancing water and there is sudden land and the violent bump of it, the drag, the reluctant slowness. Finally, the purposeful acceleration. To the end.

Allan died.

Knowledge still far ahead of comprehension. Understanding frozen.

Slowly, the perimeter of consciousness expands. A little. I made phone calls. I packed. I found the unfinished Scotch and finished it. No thought, just feeling. Fatigue, weariness. Self-pity bordering on rage. I don't remember driving. Somehow, I am standing at a ticket counter looking for a flight.

And then I'm in the air, all buckled in.

Something has ended. An epic narrative, concluded. The finality of judgment.

The carousel had stopped. The room was empty, silent. There was one bag on the belt. It looked familiar. My name was on the tag.

Sitting somewhere in the terminal, I tell myself: You are not insane. The evidence is that I know now why I am here.
My friend is dead. My friend who wanted me to be him.

My friend is dead. My friend who wanted me to be him.

I know Allan's address. Allan is no longer there, but I must go there because he is no longer there.

Annie said she'd meet me at the airport. And now the phone is ringing in my pocket.

– Where are you?

– In the airport. I'll come out.

– I'm in the airport. I've looked everywhere.

– I'm not sure where I am. But I'm here somewhere.

– For Christ's sake. Do you know where you're going?

– I'm going to Allan's.

– Do you remember the address?

– Yes. Of course.

– Say it.

– Listen. I'm not...

– Just take a taxi, then. I'll see you there.

– Sorry.

– Never mind sorry. Just get in a cab.

Intoxicated, Annie told me once, is another word for poisoned. The brain is poisoned and ill, intoxication a self-induced mental illness.

That's all it is. I got drunk and I'm not good at it. I got drunk at home. I got drunk waiting at the airport. They served wine on the plane. Everything went dark.

I can explain to myself at least.

Peggy opened the door before I rang the bell. She was frowning.

– Where's Annie? She was supposed to meet you.

– She's on her way.

I walked past her, into the living room. Left my boots on. Deliberately but for no particular reason. Feeling pissed. At everything. Everybody. Peggy stood in the doorway, arms folded, looking up and down the street.

– There she is, she said.

I knew Annie well enough that I could feel her frustration even before she came through the door. She removed her gloves slowly, deliberately, said to her sister,

– Wrong. Air. Port. Someone didn't bother telling me he was landing at the island. So naturally, I went to the one he always lands at.

– I called. I told you.

– No, you didn't. You called with the arrival time, but you didn't say where you were landing.

– I got the only flight available. I didn't ask where it was going to land.

– Well, we're all here now, said Peggy.

– Where's Allan?

The sisters stared at me, then stared at each other.

– Allan died, Peggy said.

– I know that. I want to see him, I said.

– I need a drink, Annie said. I think we all could use a drink.

She left the room. Peggy came to me, sat on the arm of the chair, took my hand in hers.

– Are you sure you're all right, Byron? You look wiped.

– I need to see him. Where's the funeral home?

– Allan left very particular instructions. There's no funeral home.

I stood so quickly Peggy almost fell. My bad leg felt numb, like the old days. Unreliable. I passed Annie coming through the doorway from the kitchen with a tray and three drinks.

– You shouldn't go in there, she said.

I yanked open Allan's door. The steel bed was gone. His desk was clear. I hobbled over, opened the top-right drawer, still cluttered, but I could see the doctor's business card was gone. I slammed it shut.

I was shouting as I stormed back to the living room.

– You called that doctor. You put him down like an animal.

They were stricken, staring at me. I wanted to rewind the whole arrival. I wanted to be me and not this stranger. But the stranger was now in charge and out of words.

I wanted to be me and not this stranger. But the stranger was now in charge and out of words.

Annie led me to a chair and handed me my drink. I sat and stared into the drink for what felt like a long time. My mind cleared slowly. I raised my head and looked around. There was just me and Annie.

– Where did Peggy go?

– Upstairs.

– I don't know what's happening, Annie.

– We need to get you some help, Byron.

– No, I said.

– You need help.

– I know where help leads.

– We'll take care of you.

– I have to lie down.

– That's a good idea. You lie down. We'll talk later.

I sat up suddenly, pulse pounding. When I laid my head on the pillow, I could hear my terrifying heart.

The slender hands were fumbling with the zipper on my snowsuit.

– Hang on. Just a second.

– I can't hold it...

Then the sickening sound. Wallop.

Someone rolling, whimpering on the floor.

Someone standing, fists clenched. Warm piss now flooding out of me.

Allan? Someone murdered Allan.

Adapted from The Winter Wives by Linden MacIntyre, published by Random House Canada Canada. Copyright © Linden MacIntyre. Reprinted by arrangement with the publisher.

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