After reading American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee, Yellowstone National Park is one of the places I’ve never visited but love to read about. So the first line of the synopsis for The Winterkeeper sold this novel to me instantly!
Gardiner MT, just outside Yellowstone National Park, Winter, 1933.
Three people – each with the toughness and desire to survive whatever adversity fate throws in their path. But will that be enough to overcome a financial Depression in its third year with no sign of abating or the brutally cold wilderness that is Yellowstone in winter?
Millie Chase is fourteen – and an orphan. Other than a stepfather she neither knows nor likes, she has no one. She sets out to find her mother’s childhood friend who she believes lives in nearby Yellowstone National Park, hoping the woman might take her in. Of course it’s winter and the park is pretty much shut down so it’s a long shot, but…. Nate Baker admits he’s getting too old for the arduous work of maintaining the buildings in Yellowstone, but with the depression going into its third year and showing few signs of abating, a man with a job doesn’t easily walk away. Besides life in the park is all he knows. So when he finds runaway Millie, half frozen and demanding to speak to his wife, Nate risks his future – and Ginny’s – when he decides to take her in. Ginny Baker comes from money – a fortune she has been assured has not been threatened by the Depression and one she has counted on as the nest egg that will sustain Nate and her in their old age. But when she receives word that the money is gone and her sister, Gert is in dire straits, she drops everything and heads to Chicago.
Any reader knows that the setting of a novel is so important, and I’m not sure there’s a better setting than Yellowstone National Park! Yes, I love this real place I’ve only ever visited through reading. There’s just something beautiful about the sound of this place, and that’s evident in Nate’s narrative when he speaks about living in the park. Yellowstone in the cold harsh, winter; brutal and beautiful! The animals, the visitors, the winterkeepers, the snow, even the threat of the poachers, any aspect of Yellowstone is a joy to read about when the author is so wonderfully descriptive as Schmidt is.
The real winning aspects of this novel (for those who don’t have a strange obsession with a place they’ve only read about in books) were the relationships between the characters, particularly Millie and Nate, it’s one of those relationships that just warms your heart, a friendship wrapped in a father-daughter bond. For Millie’s stepfather is just horrid (always a plus when there’s a character you love to hate!), and with her mother gone, you just hope Millie finds a home with Nate and Ginny, but times are hard, and how can you provide for someone else when you’re not sure if you can provide for yourself?
The Winterkeeper is such a heart-warming read, with characters you like instantly, and you just want the best for them. One of those books where you’re prepared to get outraged if the characters don’t get their happy ending, you want it for them that much! This story stayed with me long after finishing it because of the emotional journey it takes you on; if you enjoy seeing characters through the generations, and the obstacles they have to overcome, then I’d definitely recommend this one.
With themes of love, loss, and greed, The Winterkeeper is a story of survival, with fantastic characters. A novel you can immerse yourself in as you read, prefect for fans of historical fiction.
*My thanks to Book Savvy PR for sending me a digital copy of this title*