The Winter Garden and Other Stories. Hayden Thorne. USA: JMC Books LLC, 2012. 183 pp.
My story behind reading this book was based on an oops I had made.
I mistakenly tweeted the author, Hayden Thorne in the process of trying to contact Stephan Nance for his own story. Her vibrant enthusiasm and personality compelled me to offer a review of any of her books. So, I let her decide which book she wanted a review for and it just so happened to be the book I had liked when I visited her website, The Winter Garden and Other Stories.
This nearly 200-page collection of short stories took me into a world that I have not yet read in previous queer related works. The language is more poetic and the tone is mystical. Other books of gay fiction are often soaked in sex or drugs and the wording is very direct and doesn’t give much to the reader; an “easy read” if you will. But The Winter Garden expands on this reference point by making the reader stay present to understand the story fully. The mood behind the stories are more than your superficial gay-best-friend-type and I enjoyed that a lot!
My favorite story was The Winter Garden.
Set in the 19th century, a 15-year-old boy is kept from the outside world due to his sensitive nature and confined to the boundaries of his garden. A deep connection is made between him and a reoccurring visitor, Adrian, who smells of wine and has a knack for climbing trees, challenges the perspective of ignorance. This earthly bond is tested as Adrian announces he has to leave for a while with his father. And the act of pushing too far for love meets a winter chill.
This tale of a ghostly love story struck me the most as I found myself emulating the main character as I am frail, paler than most, and reputed as being naive in the gay community. Many older gay men that I’ve talked to confessed their appreciation of my child-like quality and like the character in The Winter Garden, I am left to wondering why I am not like the others.
Thorne’s work entranced my mind and satisfied a missing piece in what I desire of queer fiction: an emphasis on character. People are far more interesting than sex and the entanglements of drugs. If you enjoy a mystical and greater meaning in your books than I suggest reading Hayden Thorne’s The Winter Garden and Other Stories.
Hayden Thorne is a writer of historical, fantasy, and contemporary fiction. Some of her works include: The Glass Minstrel, The Winter Garden and Other Stories and Dr. Morbid’s Castle of Blood. You can follow her on Twitter at @hayden_thorne and yes she is a straight female!