Here's what seems to be point of the book, as a character says near the end:
"He knew that, in the eyes of God, all things are interlinked; he knew that justice does indeed spring in great surprise from the acts and consequences of ages long forgotten; and he knew that love is not broken by time."Another theme seems to be that we can't understand everything in the world through our senses, or science, or logic and reason. Okay. Fine. But it took us nearly 700 pages of flying horses and "cloud walls" and giant mysterious ships and people returning from the dead and incredibly descriptive descriptions (redundancy intentional) of New York City to get there.
If you're not familiar, Winter's Tale is often categorized as a "magical realist" novel, so weird stuff is always happening. I can dig it, and that wasn't my problem with the book. My problem was that it just felt incredibly overwrought, and ultimately, just tiresome. I really struggled with it. It reminded me of a Thomas Pynchon novel, without near the quirkiness or humor. It had a bit of the feel and scope of a Charles Dickens novel, only without the super intriguing characters and interesting, page-turning story. Or, if you like, it felt like a David Mitchell novel, but without near the smarts.
On the plus side, I really did enjoy the first 200 pages — which starts in the early 20th century and tells the story of an orphan thief named Peter Lake, who grows up with a tribe across the Hudson called the Baymen, but then is set adrift in New York City as a teenager. Eventually, during a robbery, he falls in love with the beautiful daughter of the city's newspaper mogul. Peter has various adventures in the city, including dodging the evil gang leader Pearly Soames, and his gang of Short Tails, who keeps trying to kill him and his beautiful white horse Athansor. But then, the story jumps forward to right before the turn of the 20th century and tells the tale of a number of New York residents, who all came to the city with their own unique origin stories and expectations of the city. And then Peter Lake comes back to life. And so does Pearly Soames, whose mission, for some reason, is still to kill Peter.
So, in a case like this (the only other example from my reading I can think of where I was so annoyed by a book everyone else loved is Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian), where I'm clearly in the minority, I'm hoping you can help. What is the allure of this book? Why did you love it? What did I not see, or understand?