The Wingmaker | Mette Jakobsen #AWW

The abandoned hotel comes into view. Derelict, windswept.

Who is Mette Jakobsen and how is it I have never heard of her before?

In 2011 she wrote The Vanishing Act about a young girl growing up on a small snow covered island. In October of the same year, a brief story called The Island appeared in The Griffith Review 34, retelling the time she went back to her Danish childhood island home with her adult daughter and friends.

I GREW UP on an island in the Baltic Sea. It was flat and windswept, and I don’t seem to remember it ever being summer. I left when I was twelve. Most of my memories are of the snow and the cold. We lived close to the sea. It was turbulent, grey and dangerous.

The Vanishing Act was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize in 2012.

In 2016 What the Light Hides was published. This time her story was set in the Blue Mountains featuring a couple coming to terms when the unexpected death of their son at university in Sydney.

Death, loss, grief, fractured relationships and snow (or at least cold climates seem to be her topics of choice), as we see again in her latest book, The Wingmaker. Vega is not only recovering from a broken relationship, but from the after effects of a heart attack. She is an art restorer, about to embark on her biggest project – the restoration of an angel statute that has had its wings broken off. Her father, has an old crumbling seaside hotel that he is slowly restoring with the (inept) help of an ex-army guy suffering from PTSD. This is where she retires to for her restoration of the angel.

As you can see, lots of grief, fragility, decay and putting back the pieces.

There are some beautiful snow scenes, a stranded whale, dive-bombing birds, a zany sister, sad memories, and a tango-dancing troupe of local residents. A gentle, soul-searching read with a wintry European feel.

Favourite Quote:

The angel has the face of a young girl. She has no wings but even without them she is exquisite. I’m certain the marble is White Pentelikon. It has a particular quality to it. A depth that makes her look alive. As though breath and heat are moving beneath her translucent surface.

Favourite Character:

The angel. I kept expecting her to come to life. But The Wingmaker was not that kind of story. For all it’s ethereal qualities, The Wingmaker was grounded in the real world.

Favourite or Forget:

Forgettable but a lovely tale to wile away a wintry lockdown weekend.

Book 13 of 20 Books of Summer Winter

Book: The Wingmaker
Author: Mette Jakobsen
ISBN: 9781922330727
Publisher: Text Publishing
Date: 3 August 2021
Format: Paperback
This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

13 thoughts on “The Wingmaker | Mette Jakobsen #AWW

    1. I suspect you find it weird thinking that we’re all rugged up against the winter cold right now, as it is us for us thinking about the northern hemisphere being in the middle of heatwave!


      1. When I talk to Joe from Rough Ghosts each week in Canada via Zoom, there he is in a t-shirt with a cold drink and I’m all rugged up in woollies and drinking hot soup!
        It does feel a bit weird.


        1. I always enjoy Kate’s (Favourite & Best) temp check on her 20 books posts – the Melb winter and Dublin summer are very often within a degree or two of each other 🙂


      2. I once went to Florida in December, and it was 60F. All the natives has jackets and pants on, while we northerners, who fled from the blowing snow, were in shorts and t-shirts. Currently, it’s temperate where I am, but the humidity is on its way again!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Walking home from work tonight and it is only 60F/15C outside. I’m wearing my fleecy top, scarf and winter leggings. The wind was coming off snow somewhere, so it was probably actually colder than 15C, but I wish I’d had on my big coat and beanie by the time I got home – I was so cold!!


  1. A few years ago I reviewed a book called Ice, by Anna Kavan. The thing is, there is a European pace and feel which is difficult to describe. Like a dream of snow, perhaps.


    1. It’s why I had to duck, duck, go the author. The cover said she was Australian, but it felt clear to me that we were not in Australia, or anywhere near. Finding out her childhood was in Denmark – and it suddenly all made sense.


  2. Sounds like an intriuging story. I have not heard of her although the title The Vanishing Act sounds familiar. Have to look into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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