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Winter
John Marsden
Macmillan Australia, 135 pages

Winter
John Marsden
John Marsden was born in Melbourne, Australia. Marsden was educated at Australia's oldest and strictest school,King's School, Paramatta, and in 1969 began an Arts/Law degree at the University of Sydney. Leaving school, he held odd jobs, including working in a mortuary. In 1978, he became an English teacher at All Saint's College, Bathurst, and has continued in this capacity at several institutions in Australia. More recently he has devoted himself to his literary career and to encouraging young adults in their writing efforts. Soon to be published is Marsden on Marsden where John Marsden looks behind the scenes at the inspirations for his books like So Much To Tell You, Letters from the Inside, and the highly acclaimed Tomorrow Series.

John Marsden Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Other Side of Dawn
SF Site Review: The Tomorrow Series, Part 1, Vol. 1-3
SF Site Review: The Tomorrow Series, Part 2, Vol. 4-6
SF Site Review: A Killing Frost
John Marsden Tribute Site
John Marsden Tribute Site
John Marsden Tribute Site
John Marsden Tribute Site
John Marsden Bio-bibliography
Another John Marsden Bio-bibliography
Critical Essay: The Tomorrow Series
Review: The Tomorrow Series

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

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Winter is John Marsden's latest foray into the psyche of the adolescent; however, this adolescent's problems don't stem from dodging enemy fire as in his acclaimed Tomorrow, When the War Began series, but rather from within. Marsden, in so doing, returns to the genre of his So Much To Tell You and Letters from the Inside, where adolescent women deal with difficult issues in their lives. As with his earlier novels, the situations are realistic and Marsden doesn't pull any punches. While fairly short, Winter still manages to not leave one with the feeling that one missed anything -- although the way Marsden writes one is always left wanting more.

Winter, a 16-year-old orphan with attitude to spare, is troubled with a mystery of her own childhood. In this short novel of homecoming and self-discovery, Winter will rediscover things about herself she might have wished had remained buried forever. Returning to her biological parents' homestead in the outback, she is unhappy to find that little has been done to keep the place up in the 12 years of her absence. She gradually discovers more about her father's accidental death, and something of her mother's death several months later, but people are being very closed-mouth about the whole thing. Did her mother kill herself in despair over the loss of her husband? Why would a woman expert in the use of firearms have left a loaded gun with the safety off? Was it really an accident? What is it that people are not telling her? Only a great-aunt and her maid know the whole truth.

As with his other works, the portrayal of characters is excellent, and in particular, Winter, the narrator, is a young woman who, while troubled, is strong-minded and self-reliant, a character type common to several of Marsden's works. Winter reminds me, in some ways, of the title character in the North American television series Caitlin's Way. As in the Tomorrow series, the landscapes of the outback are beautifully depicted, and the struggle between man (or in this case young woman) and weeds particularly well portrayed.

In order to get this book, you're going to have to order it from Australia. Is it worth the trouble? Certainly, because Mr. Marsden has a peculiarly good insight into the mind of the young adult and doesn't condescend to his young target readers by feeding them sentimental tripe or mindless violence. So while Winter isn't (and isn't intended to be) the roller-coaster ride of the Tomorrow series, it is certainly worth reading.

Copyright © 2001 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.


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