A Place Called Winter is a glorious piece of story telling replete with detail anchoring it in time and place: clueless remittance men dispatched to the colonies before they can entirely wreck the family reputation, of whom Harry is emphatically not one; the intriguing list of clothes recommended by a specialist outfitter, much of which proves to be useless apart from the helmet made from ‘Jaeger wool’; and the desperate isolation of homesteads, scattered across an inhospitable, often frigid landscape. Knowledge that the novel is based on family stories told by Gale’s maternal grandmother – Phyllis, the daughter Harry leaves behind – make it all the more compelling. His novels have always been marked by strong characterisation but perhaps it’s the family connection which makes his portrayal of Harry so affectionate, almost tender at times. Even the most polished contemporary novelist can get things horribly wrong when venturing into historical fiction but Gale pulls it off beautifully. A thoroughly absorbing novel which reminds us just how much things can change for the better: while his ancestor suffered torture and virtual banishment for his sexuality, Gale lives happily and openly with his partner. Harry would have been delighted.