THE WEIGHT OF WINTER by Cathie Pelletier


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 Winter indeed becomes a weighty matter in this long-winded tale of two months in the life of back-country Maine--an area already thoroughly plumbed in the previous The Funeral Makers (1986) and Once Upon a Time on the Banks (1989). The first snow of the season has arrived in Mattagash, rehearsals for the Thanksgiving play are in progress, and 107-year- old Mathilda Fennelson--unaware that she's scheduled to receive the Thanksgiving 1989 award of recognition for being the oldest resident in the tiny town--lies quietly in Pine Valley Senior Citizens' Center dreaming of her difficult pioneer past. Mathilda's deathlike state casts a pall over this oddly muted version of the previously spirited Mattagash--combining with the effects of heavy snows and a proliferation of satellite dishes to evoke what appears to be a heavily anaesthetized village. Though Amy Joy Lawler, now in her 40s, is once again involved in a clandestine affair, she's too busy caring for her aged mother to pay much attention when her lover runs off to Arizona in pursuit of his wife and children. Dorrie and Lola, the Mutt-and-Jeff-like local gossipmongers, cruise through town spreading rumors as though they're on automatic pilot. Even Lynn Gifford seems oddly hypnotized as she rides the waves of her husband's drunken violence, continuing placidly to clean house and fix sandwiches for her kids even after her oldest son attempts to murder his father and then, in desperation, kills himself. Such a zombielike crowd is easy prey for ultra-religious Prissy Monihan, whose campaign to shut down the town's only bar succeeds brilliantly despite most of the population's profound regret. At least her passion provides some relief in this monochromatic tapestry, as depressing as a midwinter snow. A likely cause of cabin fever, no matter what the local climate.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-670-84090-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991


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