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Publisher's Summary

This is a book about the beauty and complexity of the human soul, about God, love, and justice, and yet you can lose yourself in it as if it were a dream. You will be transported to New York of the Belle Epoque, to a city clarified by a siege of unprecedented winters. One night, Peter Lake—orphan, master-mechanic, and master second-story man—attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the affair between the middle-aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn, a young girl who is dying. Because of a love that at first he cannot fully understand, Peter, a simple and uneducated man, will be driven “to stop time and bring back the dead.” His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beset by winter, is a truly beautiful and extraordinary story.

℗ 2008 by AudioGO / © 1983 by Mark Helprin / Motion Picture Artwork © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

©1983 Mark Helprin (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America

Critic Reviews

"This novel stretches the boundary of contemporary a gifted writer's love affair with the language." ( Newsday)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • David
  • Tucson, AZ, United States
  • 04-11-11

Great book and narrator - bad technical glitch

I am almost finished with this recording, and it has been a pure joy all the way. That is, until Chapter 5 of Part 4. Suddenly, I was listening to a duplicate of an earlier part of the story. I skipped ahead to Chapter 6 and was hearing new text again, but I can't be sure what, if anything, I have missed. So I've tried to redownload Part 4 to see if it comes out right. Unfortunately, it stalls out at 119 mb and I'm having a hard time getting past that.

This kind of thing really fouls up the experience...

48 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

NYC 2000 as imagined in 1983

Posted to Goodreads on 3/19/12:

This book was written in 1983 but released again in 2008 as an audiobook, which I picked up from Audible at a very good price. I liked the fantasy, magical sequences of the story and the portrait of New York City from the late 1800s to the year 2000 (the future, as of 1983). The story was slow to get going, although the "Gangs of New York" style of the beginning held my interest. Once some of the main characters really take the stage (Peter Lake and Beverly Penn), the pace picks up. On the whole, however, some of the fantasy borders on the juvenile, similar to the movie Polar Express, and some of the history seems incorrect. Also, when the author tries to imagine New York of the future and a cataclysmic event that could destroy the city, he does not reach his goal. That a character tries to build a bridge to see the face of God is difficult to consider seriously.

The book is really too long, but if you have the time, you may like the early approach to magical reality. The book has some similarities with Chronic City.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Omar
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 09-11-10

OMG! Helprin is the American Homer!

No, not Homer Simpson, though you will find many side-splitting laughs to rival Marge's tubby hubby.

Helprin is the best living writer in the English language, maybe any language. This epic adventure defies any description of the plot which is so magnificently constructed, so sublime as to compare to any masterpiece (architectural, pictorial, sculptural, technological). One can appreciate it, but recounting it diminishes its artistry, beauty and grandeur. If you are fortunate enough to have a hard copy, then read, listen, read, listen. Your efforts will be rewarded, your soul enriched, and you will be restored to your proper senses. In reality, this praise applies to the five titles that I have read.

The reading on this audio is well done and captures the spirit of the story throughout.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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I couldn't finish this book

The writing style was so heavy it was daunting. I RARELY put a book aside without finishing it. As I was trying to push through this book I had to remind myself that life is too short to spend time on a book I don't enjoy.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Been waiting for this one a long time

This may be my favorite book. When it was on the best seller's list (in the go-go 80s) I made all my friends buy and read it and then of course we read everything else Helprin ever wrote (including the New Yorker stories).

When I saw it was finally on Audible, I actually did a little happy dance. Wonderful to "read" it again after so many years. Who writes like this these days?

If you love New York, or if you just love beautiful images and very interesting characters rendered in prose, then this is the book for you. What if time really could be conquered by courage and love?

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • 01-01-14

Brilliant tale

My favorite read of 2013, an instant classic filled with brilliant quotes, fantasy, and romance. And that doesn't sell this book how about brilliant characters. A must read.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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As amazing now as it was 25 years ago

Would you consider the audio edition of Winter's Tale to be better than the print version?

I always have been a fan of printed word, and would be cautious of saying audio is better. Currently however I do not have the time available to read as I would like, but my drive to and from work make audio reading a good choice, and this audiobook is pure joy

What was one of the most memorable moments of Winter's Tale?

I originally read this book 25 years ago when I was in college. The beauty of the writing grabbed me them, and has grabbed me again in the audio version. I love the section in Grand central station when Peter Lake is up among the stars in the ceiling. Also when he first encounters Beverly and can't remember her eye color. Just the little details.

What does Oliver Wyman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He has a very expressive voice, and very easy to listen to.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Over twenty hours, I don't think so.

Any additional comments?

Read or listen to this before the movie comes out in February.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chantelle
  • Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
  • 04-20-09


The description of this book is about one small storyline and is hardly a part of the plot. We meet the girl Peter loves, she's there for about a chapter and then gone for the rest of the book. The story meanders, multiple characters are introduced and barely touch the story, only my insane need to finish a book I've started kept me going until the end. The description should be changed and imply that the story is about the mystery of Time and New York in the 1900's. A story of human interaction with a touch of magic and engineering.

40 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Beautifully written, magical tale...

In a mythical New York, Helprin creates characters and otherworldly backdrops that are unforgettable. His prose is gorgeous, his imagery will transport you; however, if you prefer fiction neatly tied up, that adheres to some kind of logic, this isn't for you. This is fantasy, and there are many loose ends at its cryptic conclusion.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful story

This is a wonderful story that spans the 20th century and tells the tale of an alternative New York with some magical additions such as an enormous natural formation of clouds that often blocks in the city and into which characters disappear only to reappear, unaged, decades later. The narration is excellent and the story of Peter Lake is interesting and full of excellent twists and turns.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful