Review: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

I read Rebecca a few years ago and I thought it was an excellent read with lots of atmosphere and mood. I haven’t really read a book since that comes close to it, so when this book came up for review, I was intrigued as the story sounded like a modern retelling of the gothic classic.

In my opinion, Rebecca is a tough novel to follow. It’s unique—especially considering the time it was written—and has a huge cult following. It told an original story that was haunting and yet creepy without being a ghost story. There were many things that set Rebecca apart for me, so when I read this summary I was eager to see how Gabriele would take a timeless classic and create something with a new twist.

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician 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. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

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 is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything (summary from Goodreads).

Over the years, there have been a number of retellings and film adaptations for Rebecca. I personally haven’t see or read any of them. So when I picked this one up, I was more or less a blank slate. I know that some reviewers felt that this book just blended in with all the other retellings and didn’t stand out as unique in a sea of Rebecca inspired books/films etc.

I on the other hand felt differently. Since this book is a first retelling for me, perhaps I had nothing else to gage it against, but I thought this book fit right in with all the things that made Rebecca interesting—an unnamed narrator, a widower who is a little sketchy, a dead ex wife that ‘haunts’ the house, the riches of the Hamptons.

I love a book with an unreliable narrator, it really makes the reader uneasy and put you on your toes. This book started as a romance but ended on more of a thriller note the same as the classic book does. I really enjoyed Gabriele’s writing. She was able to stay true to the original while creating something new and more modern for the next generation of Rebecca fans.

One of the things I think that audiences need to understand though is this book is basically an updated version of Rebecca. It more or less follows the original story and prose to a T. Instead of ‘last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again’ the book opens with ‘last night Rebekah tried to murder me again’. It’s very very very similar. The name of the estate in this book is Anderly and in the original it’s Manderly.

Much of this book echos classic hallmarks of the original. It was almost like reading the original except with the more updated setting like the Cayman Islands and the Hamptons or Max being in politics. So basically readers are getting a 21st century Rebecca….quite literally. So as long as readers are expecting this book to be that, then they won’t be disappointed. But if they are hoping for something new and different or an inspired Rebecca novel with something new…..then they should look elsewhere.

I enjoyed reading this book, it’s been a while since I read the original Rebecca so reading this one was fun and a nice little return to familiar characters and setting but yet new characters and setting. There were a few plot changes that will keep fans of the classic Rebecca interested I think. It’s not the exact same story but there are plenty of similarities.

For me this was a fun read. I went into it with zero expectations and found that I enjoyed reading it more than I anticipated. This is Gabriele’s second novel and I think she hit the mark with this one. I am interested to see what she comes up with next!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele 

  • Hardcover, 320 pages
  • Published October 16th 2018 by Viking
  • ISBN 0525559701 (ISBN13: 9780525559702)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own
  • Recommendation: 4 out of 5
  • Genre: contempo, thriller, suspense, modern gothic
  • Memorable lines/quotes
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