Virgil Wander

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Wow! This is a very well written book. The prose has underlying meanings that make you take a few moments and reflect on what the author is saying. It took a little bit to get into the story but once there you connect with the characters and care about what is happening to them and why. I would definitely read more by this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC copy of the book. The opinions expressed above are my own.
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No one writes characters and creates universes like Leif Enger. I thoroughly enjoyed Peace Like a River and was ecstatic to read Virgil Wander. I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed! It's long but definitely worth getting to know the people in these pages. Highly recommended.
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This book didn't go anywhere for most of the book, and then at the very end suddenly picked up in action.  It felt a bit jarring to me.  I do love Enger's writing style, his characterization, and I'd readily read his next book.  I preferred his others though.
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I love books that center around a small town vibe. They are charming, quirky and just so delightful. This book was no exception to that opinion. So beautifully written and such great characters. I can not say enough good things about this one. Read it you won’t be disappointed!
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On the surface, the town of Greenstone would appear nothing less than ordinary but when Enger focuses in on the minutiae of their lives what emerges is a beloved quirkiness that draws you to their story. And dare I say this dips its foot into magical realism?! I definitely was feeling the uncomfortable presence of Adam Leer.

Peace Like a River is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s hard not to compare but I tried to read this on its own merit. I very much enjoyed this book and think one difference is the emotional pull. Peace leaves me in a puddle, breaking my heart into splinters with the purpose of mending it back stronger. Virgil doesn’t have that same effect, it’s more subtle in plot looking more into the connections between people and how they live every day together, what gives them purpose and hope. “Your tribe is always bigger than you think.” Enger is a standout in modern American fiction.
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***Now available in soft cover.***

Virgil Wander is a charming and magical story set in a small Midwestern town known for its bad luck.  Virgil is a middle-aged town clerk and owner of the local movie house.  Before his accident he is well liked but unassuming.  He is the type of person who could easily blend into the background without quite ever being seen.  After his near death experience he suffers traumatic brain injury.  He may not quite remember what the "previous resident" of his body would do are even recall the proper adjectives to use in speech.  Yet he is revitalized.  This new abridged version of Virgil Wander is more assertive and "a bit less angry" with himself.  He doesn't fall back as quickly or just accept things as they are.  He stands up for himself and takes more risks.  This new Virgil is more true to himself.  

With a host of endearing, quirky characters, Virgil Wander is a cute and wonderful story about starting over, building meaningful relationships and finding home.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Grove Atlantic Press and Leif Enger for access to this book.
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Many people, at some point in their lives, experience a profound event that completely alters the path they'd previously been on.  The kind of event experienced ranges anywhere from the beginning or ending of a relationship, the loss or gain of a loved one, a traumatic injury, and so forth.  In the case of Virgil Wander, it is a near-catastrophic car accident.  Everything of who he was prior to the accident is still there, in his head, but the memories are slow in returning.  As they do, that man doesn't feel like him anymore.  He wonders if he should even try to be that man, or if he should take this opportunity to forge a whole new self.  Maybe the self he should have been all along.



When forging a new path, it's expected that mistakes will be made.  As we grow up, when we're in our single digits and teen years, it's understood that we will make mistakes.  There is an expectation that, not only will there be mistakes, there will be the getting back up after and deciding if that mistake signals the end of a road or a skill to be learned.  Once we reach adulthood, though, that understanding seems to disappear.



At some point, we realize that we're expected to have life all figured out.  We're supposed to be on our determined path and to have certainty that our path is the correct one for us.  There's not supposed to be any changing.  Even if something traumatic and life-altering happens, we're supposed to spend our time fighting to get back to where we were before the event.



When Virgil survived his car accident, he was "supposed" to spend all of his time and energy fighting to regain all of his memories and go back to the way life was before.  That's the expectation, both from himself and from all who know him.  He should take a little time, heal physically, and then strive to go back to the way things were, as though nothing ever happened.  Why is that so important?



Virgil's journey is his effort to challenge and answer that question.  Does he need to go back?  What if this is his chance to go forward like he never could before?



I loved every page of this book.  It is inspiring, evocative, and hopeful.  Even when something happens in our lives that throw us off-course - or maybe especially when something happens - we can turn it into an opportunity.  If only we dare.
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'Virgil Wander' by Leif Enger is his first novel in ten years.  His first novel 'Peace Like a River' is one of my favorites.

Virgil Wander has survived a car crash into an icy lake when we meet him.  He has some cognitive and physical limits.  This makes it hard to run the small movie theater he owns.  He takes in a roommate in Rune, a man who builds kites and ponders the mystery of his missing son.  The small town is full of other unusual, but real, characters, all suffering their own version of tragedies.

Leif Enger has way of creating affably memorable characters.  In previous books, characters have gone on journeys.  In this book, the journey is more internal and the quirky hard luck town becomes a character of its own.  Loving a place and the oddball characters that inhabit it are what happens to Virgil Wander.  We don't get many hints about his life before the accident, but this book feels like the character is born anew with a chance to rebuild his world.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Grove Atlantic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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This is my kind of story, reminiscent of Fredrik Backman’s quirky characters in down-on-their luck communities, or the true-grit folks you might have seen years ago on the television show Northern Exposure. While Virgil is the eponymous hero of this novel, Enger offers us plenty of other characters to love in this small Midwestern town. As promised in the publisher’s notes, this is truly a place where captivating whimsy is the order of the day. A perfect summer read.


For Goodreads:

Why I picked it — Read the summary from the publisher, how could I not?
Reminded me of… The elegant, moving language of my favorite Fredrik Backman books.
For my full review — click here
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I was looking forward to reading this from the great Leif Enger, but although I tried, I couldn't. The beginning is very confusing, the language likewise. Maybe if you read this in paperback format it's better, but as an ebook is unsatisfactory.
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A warm, feel good novel but thought provoking as well. The characters are quirky but you care about what happens to them.  Thoroughly enjoyed it!
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I loved Leif Enger's book, Peace Like a River and looked forward to this book with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, Enger's beautiful writing and atmospheric descriptions of a small town in Minnesota, could not rescue the absolutely dull plot that never seemed to gain any speed. Virgil and other characters are nicely drawn, but just as Virgil seems to have lost his ability to locate adjectives after a car accident affected his cognition, Enger seems to have lost his ability to write these quirky characters into an engaging story.
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The pace of small town life is historically slow and that's my feeling about the pacing of Virgil Wander. That is not the fault of Leif Enger. His writing is absolutely beautiful. His detailed setting come alive in my mind due to his exquisite descriptions.  I think I have spent too much time in the psychological thriller genre, and it has made me impatient.  What I really appreciated in Virgil Wander was the complexity of the characters and how the town itself became a character.  The story was slow moving, almost meandering as someone said here, but  once I settled into Mr Enger's style, I found it quite enjoyable and entertaining. 
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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Virgil Wander almost died. Following his accident, he's a new person. His language has lost many adjectives and adverbs, but that only makes him sound more assertive, something Virgil has never been guilty of. 

Middle-aged and a bit of a loner, he's been cruising along, working as a city clerk during the day and running at a loss the Empress - the only cinema in the small, dying Greenstone, Minnesota. Life was uneventful and extremely predictable.

The accident gives him a bit of notoriety. One day, Virgil stumbles across an old Scandinavian man named Rune who was flying a kite by the lake. Virgil offers Rune his spare room above the Empress. The old man Rune becomes a town fixture, well known for his marvellous kites. 

Peppered with a cast of interesting characters, this novel is deep, humorous, whimsy and very atmospheric.

I found it utterly charming.
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I live in the Midwest, so when I see a book that's written about a town, real or fictional, in the midwest, I'm always intrigued. And let me tell you, this book does not disappoint. Virgil Wander is a classic midwesterner, just going along in life, when one night, his car slides off the road and into Lake Superior. 

Virgil survives, but his language and memories aren't the same. As he begins to piece together his life, this "reawakening" might be exactly what his sleepy little town needs to be revived. 

This book was just so much fun. The author has a gift for beautiful writing, mixed with humor and captivating detail. This will especially be a fun read for anyone who lives in a small town, and can appreciate all that living in a small town comes with.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the free download of this book. I found it to be a charming read. Although it took me a little while to get into it, I came to really enjoy getting to know Virgil Wander and the eccentric people from his community.
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Virgil Wander is the main character, who, as the book opens, is just recovering from an accident where his car flew off the road and into the freezing cold Lake Superior. By sheer good luck a friend saw the accident and dove in to save Virgil from certain death and instead only being concussed. Recovering from the concussion takes time, if not the rest of his life, one thing he was struggling with was the loss of adjectives, slowly some would come back.

The small town, Greenstone, Minnesota where Virgil lives is a unique place with bad luck. The people seems unique as well, for the most part, but not all. The book is quirky, lighthearted really but the situations that occur, death or possible death always looming is not light. 

Virgil is the owner of the small run down theater that also runs in the red, so he works for the city as a clerk. One of the main people is Rune, an older man who loves to make and fly intricate kites. He came to Greenstone to find out about his son he recently found out he had, the mother had never told him and Rune only find out upon her death. Rune's son is a famous in a tragic way, a minor league baseball player turned neon sign makers, who disappeared in a small plane never to be heard of again. Since he had some fame the story was somewhat known. 

Overall the book was well written. It took me a little while to get into the book, quite a while. It may have been easy to just put down and not get back to. The book is more about a character or characters, not plot driven. Yet it flowed along, more around mid-point than near the beginning where it's easier to keep you hooked to the story.

Book rating: 3.5 stars
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Thank you to the publisher Grove Press, the author, Leif Enger, and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for my candid review.

This is a charming story, including a very hospitably, unhospitably cold town with a history of bad luck, a down and out unlikely hero who is ready to give up, and a down and out town full of quirky, lovable characters.

Virgil Wander is a great read,  especially if you love magical places.   Please read this!
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It took me a long time to get into this book and I put it down and picked it up again here and there. Eventually, I was captivated enough by Virgil Wander and his life in his small town to push through and finish this quite quickly.  I certainly appreciated Leif Enger's prose and the cast of unforgettable characters in this book but I did get a little bit lost in the details at times and the timeline jumped back and forth a bit in a way that was unclear.
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Reading Virgil Wander felt familiar the cast of characters in a small town felt like the type of people who would inhabit a place like this. It was overall a great reading experience and I felt as if I was transported there, I really enjoyed getting a peek into this fictional place.
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