It's Egypt, 1964. The great temple at Abu Simbel must be rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. Block by block it is to be dismantled and resurrected sixty metres higher. This most delicate and daunting of task is overseen by Avery, a young engineer who at the same time is carefully, and joyfully, constructing a shared life with his new ...
It's Egypt, 1964. The great temple at Abu Simbel must be rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. Block by block it is to be dismantled and resurrected sixty metres higher. This most delicate and daunting of task is overseen by Avery, a young engineer who at the same time is carefully, and joyfully, constructing a shared life with his new wife, Jean. But not everything can be saved once the floodgates have opened. Villages will be deluged. Graves will be moved. Thousands will be exiled from their ancient homes and from the river that has been their lifeblood, and no feat of engineering can prevent this. As the temple is taken apart and rebuilt, Avery and Jean suffer a terrible loss of their own. Their separate journeys through the landscape of grief will take them from Egypt, to Canada, to lands that have been flooded and reconfigured and homes that have been lost, to a guerrilla painter of the past whose story of destruction, reconstruction and replication in war-devastated Poland is built out of equal parts hope and despair. Weaving historical moments with the quiet intimacy of human lives, The Winter Vault tells of the ways in which we salvage what we can from the violence of life. It is the story of a husband and a wife trying to find their way back to each other; of people and nations displaced and uprooted and of the myriad means by which we all seek out a place we can call home. It is a breathtaking and heartbreaking novel about the inescapability of memories, the devastation of loss, and the restorative power of love.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-03-02 Profound loss, desolation and rebuilding are the literal and metaphoric themes of Michaels's exquisite second novel (after Fugitive Pieces). Avery Escher is a Canadian engineer recently moved to a houseboat on the Nile with his new wife, Jean, in 1964. Avery's part of a team of engineers trying to salvage Abu Simbel, which is about to be flooded by the new Aswan dam. His wife, Jean, meanwhile, carries with her childhood memories of flooded villages and the heavy absence of her mother, who died when she was young. Now, the sight of the entire Nubian nation being evacuated from their native land before it's flooded affects both Avery and Jean intensely. Jean's pregnancy seems a possible redemption, but their daughter is stillborn, and Jean falls into despair, shunning the former intimacy of her marriage. When the couple returns to Canada, they set up separate lives and another man enters the picture. Michaels is especially impressive at making a rundown of construction materials or the contents of a market as evocative as the shared moments between two young lovers. A tender love story set against an intriguing bit of history is handled with uncommon skill. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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