I remember reading this book in the late 80's or early 90's. It was a - sort of - semi SciFi contemporary fairy tale.

It was set in Manhattan in contemporary times, near future and (I think) late 1800's. There was a mist wall round New York that ships could disappear into and arrive out at different times.

There was a man with a white horse, the horse could fly but had forgotten how. The man is brought forward from the past but (like the horse) forgets who he is.

An engineer arrives from the future in a gigantic ocean liner and builds a bridge of light to heaven (possibly at the last millennium turn over).

It was a very involved book with a huge cast of characters that all had some part to play in the story.

In the 1800's story there was a girl suffering from consumption, she slept in a glass room on the roof of her house, open to the freezing winter air, it was what kept her alive. She was rich (the family had made money in whaling) but somehow she and The Man (the guy with the white horse, who was pretty much a nobody) met and fell in love (I think).

Some of the story was set around a lake in upstate NY, and one character started off in San Francisco (contemporary times) and traveled to the lake.

Anyone any idea what I'm talking about?

1 Answer 1


Apologies, this has been bugging me on and off for years.

After typing out the question the name of the author literally just popped into my head (you'd think I'd remember it, we share a first name).

It's Winters Tale by Mark Helprin

Peter Lake is the central character of Winter's Tale. An immigrant couple who were denied admission at Ellis Island due to consumption are forced to return to the ship City of Justice which had brought them. They break the display case containing a model of their ocean-going vessel and set their son Peter adrift in New York Harbor inside it. He is found in the reeds and adopted by the Baymen of the Bayonne Marsh, who send him off to Manhattan when he comes of age. There he first becomes a mechanic and then is forced to become a burglar in a gang called the Short Tails. He soon makes a mortal enemy of their leader, Pearly Soames, and is constantly on the run from the gang. Early one winter morning, Peter is on the brink of being captured and killed by the gang when he is rescued by a mysterious white horse, who becomes his guardian.

While attempting to rob a house, Peter meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn. The daughter of millionaire Isaac Penn, owner and publisher of The Sun, one of New York's greatest newspapers, Beverly is eccentric, free-spirited, and enigmatic. This captivates Peter initially, but her deeper nature is revealed with her terminal consumption. Beverly never disappears from Peter's life, protecting him until the very end. His love for the dying Beverly causes him to become obsessed with justice.

In yet another escape from Pearly's men, both Peter and the white horse crash into a mysterious recurring cloud wall, disappearing in it for decades. When Peter emerges, he no longer remembers who he is and is visibly no longer of this world, seeing and hearing things that nobody else can see or hear. One night, in a dream or a vision, he is carried on a tour of all the graves of the world, observing and remembering all the dead. In the apocalyptic chaos of burning New York, he acquires astonishing powers.


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