The Wisdom of Winter
Atmosphere Press (2022)
Reviewed by Leigh Kimberly Zoby for Reader Views (01/2023)
“The Wisdom of Winter” by Annie Seyler is a beautifully written story about a young lady who tragically loses her mother in a car accident. Beatrice is the light of her mother’s life. Lily and Beatrice spend their days playing outside and creating works of art. Beatrice is an eccentric child that runs around partially dressed and dirty while acting out make-believe adventures. She loves nature and hates taking a bath. Lily becomes pregnant again to revitalize her marriage, only to develop a debilitating case of postpartum depression.
Lily has a secret that has been eating away at her for years. Her constant sadness and pill addiction causes a strain on the family. One afternoon, the family decides to go to a ranch and trail ride. Lily, not thinking clearly, jumps around a corner to surprise her nervous son and make him laugh. The horse Oliver is riding becomes spooked and gallops off with his foot caught in the stirrup. In realizing how tragic her actions could have been, Lily straightens up her act. Needing time to think, Lily takes the kids to their Aunt Ginny’s cabin in Vermont. While the kids were playing, Lily left to go to town, crashed her car into a tree, and died.
Annie Seyler writes eloquently in a loving manner. The relationships between the characters are heartfelt. The use of a time jump is brilliant and shows the reader the deep-seated roots of traumatic events that affect a person. Young Beatrice was full of adventure and comfortable in her quirkiness. After her mother’s death, she lost herself, disassociated herself from her family, and conformed to someone she did not recognize. The use of cowboy wisdom was a delight to read. I was amazed by Beatrice turning horse advice into her saving grace. I could imagine Beatrice breaking free of her protective shield when she realized she could be powerful and brave yet full of fear.
“The Wisdom of Winter” made me feel like a build-up to something big was coming but then seemed to fizzle out. Some scenarios were unrealistic to me, for example, the parents sneaking off to nap in a tent while unsure if Oliver had a concussion. Since these events took place before Lily’s death, I wondered if the author changed course on purpose. I thoroughly enjoyed Part 1 of the story but thought Part 2 had too much going on between the boss/boyfriend/ex-wife issues. With the insufficient scene involving a lawyer at Starbucks, I began to despise Beatrice. I did not understand why she cut off her grandparents and brother when they were also grieving. The time jump left me with unanswered questions.