What's the opposite of a surprise ending? Calling the ending of Winter's Tale 'predictable' would not do it justice, but after a couple of hundred pages of foreshadowing and manuevering all of the characters into place, the ending seemed . . . inevitable.
A couple of people reading along with the novel have fallen a week or two behind, so I don't want to include too many spoilers in this week's post. Instead, I'll take the "scattered thoughts" approach. Even so, you should be warned that spoilers follow.
-Jackson Mead's bridge, which finally appears on December 31, 1999, is a made of pure light. Perhaps I missed the point, but until fairly recently I assumed that the "bridge of pure light" was a metaphor. I didn't expect him to actually build a bridge of pure light, beginning at the Battery and stretching into heaven. What does it symbolize, and what are we to make of the fact that it falls apart?
-The burning of New York was an exciting chapter, and was particularly bracing, coming as it did after so many chapters of lighthearted whimsy. Other than Printing House square and City Hall, which portions of the city survived, and what conclusions are we to draw from seeing what burned, and what was saved?
-The final encounter with Pearly Soames unfolded differently than I expected it to; we saw Althansor lose his power at the end of the novel, but Peter Lake had become so powerful and magical, and Soames so much of a laughingstock, that their fight in the church came as a shock. Thoughts?
-One of the most interesting topics in the book was its use of metaphors that turn out to be far more literal than expected. Sometimes, this relates to the geography of Helprin's New York, for instance the Isle of the Dead, the Bridge of Pure Light, and even the village in upstate New York so remote that nobody can find it unless they've been there already as someone's guest. What do you make of Helprin's blurring of the line between reality and fantasy?