Book Review: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
The Winters is a modern reworking of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and while it draws heavily on its source material, Lisa Gabriele also manages to pull off a stylish new twist in her take on the haunting psychological suspense.
After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter – a wealthy senator and recent widower – and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell.
As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets – the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.
The Winters works surprisingly well, whether or not you’re familiar with Daphne du Maurier’s original. There are enough familiar elements for readers to recognise, while the changes and additions make sense and give the story a refresh, making the case for this update.
I liked the location change as it helps Lisa Gabriele not only give a nod to her inspiration but make the story her own. She moves the action from Monte Carlo and Cornwall to the US equivalent of their European counterparts in the Cayman Islands and the Hamptons on the southern tip of New York’s Long Island. This, in turn, feeds into the types of characters we encounter, their social circles and backgrounds.
What further updates the story is that Mrs Danvers’ character, a housekeeper in the original, here becomes future stepdaughter, Dani. This change worked really well for me, as both narrator and reader simultaneously question how much of Dani’s behaviour is attributable to the loss of her mother, the sudden appearance of her replacement or simply that she’s currently fifteen and very good at it.
There are other changes which I won’t go into here but these not only chimed with this more modern story but still also left sufficient menace hanging over the characters. Anyway, as the story progressed, I found myself minding less and less where The Winters differed from Rebecca and simply becoming more involved in its fresh take on a chilling story.
The Winters swept me along, frantically trying to unravel what was happening and relishing the opportunity of trying to get there before the narrator did. Not only a successful nod to du Maurier’s Rebecca, The Winters is a seriously good suspenseful standalone in its own right.
The Winters by Lisa Gabriele is published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Vintage. It is out today and is available as an audiobook, an ebook and in hardback. You can find it at Amazon UK or buy it from Hive and support your local independent bookshop.
Lisa Gabriele is the author of several bestselling novels. Her writing has appeared in Glamour Vice, Elle, the New York Times Magazine and Salon as well as various anthologies. An award-winning T.V. producer, she has lived in Washington D.C. and New York City, and now lives in Toronto.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.