Title: The Winters
Author: Lisa Gabriele
Published: October 15th 2018
Publisher: Michael Joseph – Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller
Rating: 3.5 stars
Inspired by the classic novel Rebecca, The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.
How do you replace the perfect wife?
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 to 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.
There are some interesting endorsements that come from 2018 release The Winters, written by Lisa Gabriele. The Winters is described as ‘Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, set in the glamorous world of the New York Hamptons’. I have loved Rebecca since I read it in high school for my English Literature course, so a new release inspired by this classic caught my attention. While I am not too familiar with the New York Hamptons region, the glamour of this locale appealed to me. The deal was sealed with this book as soon as the media release stated ‘a twisty, addictive and suspenseful read for fans of B.A. Paris, JP Delaney and Liane Moriarty’. I follow all three of these authors, so my expectations were high going into this novel. Especially with this flooring opening, a tribute to the book that inspired this novel.
Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again. It had been a while since I’d had that dream, not since we left Asherley, a place I called home for one winter and the bitterest part of spring, the dream only ever recurring when Max was gone and I’d find myself alone with Dani.
The Winters is based around the relationship of Max Winters and his new fiancé (we never learn her name), who return to Max’s mansion, the Asherley estate, after a fast courting. Max is a handsome and wealthy man, who lost his wife, Rebekah, fairly recently. He seems to have settled into a new relationship very quickly, but the memory of his first wife lingers, especially at the Asherley estate. The new object of Max Winter’s affection, finds Rebekah’s legacy incredibly haunting. It seems Rebekah’s ghostly presence is felt in all facets of Asherley. Furthermore, Max’s daughter Dani is in opposition to the new relationship and complicates matters for the new couple. There are a whole host of shocking secrets binding this complicated family together, which all seem to come to a head as Max Winters prepares to marry his new bride.
The Winters signals my first experience of the work of Lisa Gabriele, an author I discovered has plenty of published work under her belt. I think it is a bold move to write a novel inspired by such a classic and a much adored novel. I appreciated how Lisa Gabriele stayed true to some of the original features of the Daphne du Maurier’s classic, but she added her own unique spin to the tale.
Most notably, where Lisa Gabriele makes her own mark is in the shift in location from the treacherous Cornish coastline, to the very contrasted modern day opulence of the Hamptons. I enjoyed this setting change over very much. Gabriele creates a strong sense of place in her novel. Although the Asherley Estate did seem to have a touch on the famous Manderley, it was still captured well by Lisa Gabriele. Gabriele does work hard to establish a heavy line of tension and in many scenes you could cut this tension with a knife. The Winters covers intense feelings of foreboding, danger and uncertainty. It is a haunting read, with plenty of moments where I felt like I had to look over my shoulder with the lead. Gabriele played out this aspect well in The Winters.
Characters leave a stain on your mind in The Winters. Max Winters is very well drawn. The nameless new fiancé had me intrigued throughout, she is a great voice to follow. The villain of the tale, or the Mrs Danvers of the story if you are acquainted with Rebecca, is Max’s daughter Dani. She is one nasty piece of work. I didn’t like her at all, along with Max Winter! Gabriele fills the book with plenty of complicated character actions and engaging dialogue, which is always tinged with a sense of uncertainty. These are characters that truly earn your ire by the close of the book!
The plot itself is a good example of domestic fiction suspense narrative with strong psychological themes. Gabriele hints at themes of disconnection, loss, grief, obsession, low self esteem, mental health and emotional instability in her novel. The Winters is a complex family drama and the secrets each character keeps adds to the intrigue of the novel. The first half of The Winters works to build the a sense of foreboding and it was a little slower than I would have liked. However, the pace does pick up in the second half of the book, hurtling towards an explosive and a ‘didn’t see it coming ‘ conclusion. For those who are fans of flooring final twists, this one will hit the spot.
The Winters proved to be a book filled with uncertainty and plenty of grey areas. Just when I decided I had a character or a situation worked out, Lisa Gabriele would play with my mind and take me somewhere else. The Winters is a jolting novel, filled with juicy dark truths for the reader to discover, with the added bonus of comparisons made to the classic title Rebecca, penned by Daphne du Maurier.
The Winters by Lisa Gabriele was published on 15th October 2018 by Michael Joseph – Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Learn more about the author of The Winters, Lisa Gabriele, here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.