Minister Without Portfolio

Minister Without Portfolio

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Henry Hayward is a drowning man. With a soured long-term romance finally at an end, no family, and no refuge to be had in work, he progressively spends his days in the solace of alcohol and his nights with a series of interchangeable partners. In a quest to simultaneously recover from unrequited love and to find meaning in what is becoming an increasingly emotionally arid life, Henry travels to Afghanistan as an army-affiliated contractor. When Henry becomes embedded in a regiment, he doesn't have time to think about his fixation on Nora or the fragments of his old life, a life he wasn't really living anyway. But everything changes during a tragic roadside incursion when a routine patrol suddenly turns fatal. And Henry, who survives, knows in his heart that he is responsible. Upon returning home, now tormented by guilt in addition to ennui, he begins to feel even more rootless and restless until the question of his deceased friend's summer home arises. Soon Henry is trying to bring meaning back to his life and to make posthumous amends by planning to buy and repair his friend's dilapidated family house. But he hasn't factored family history into the picture--and his deceased friend's girlfriend has a revelation of her own that may change everything.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780670067152
Characteristics: 330 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 27, 2016

I love Newfoundland and enjoyed this story of the histories, struggles and relationships that may lie behind the ice bergs. I found the writing style unique and interesting, like so much on the Rock. Loved this first book and encourage more.

Persevere until Henry settles into his town in NFLD. Initially the plot is jerky and does not make for easy reading. Overall I think this book was written for GenX men. After several traumas, Henry finally becomes the modern man who can express his emotions to women, become a modern dad to take care of young Tender and get on with his life.

Jun 20, 2016

It was interesting but maybe I missed the big picture. I got bored at times but enjoyed his journey of going back to a simple life and living a minimalist life style. Didn't really get the relationship with Tenders girlfriend. Good book to discuss with someone to get better insight into book

GSPLmandy Mar 16, 2016

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It took me a some time to get used to Michael Winter's style of writing, and his rhythm, but once I did I was completely enthralled by the story.

Mar 10, 2016

I felt sympathy for the central character and his somewhat haphazard life. Life happens to him, he never seems to be in control of anything and that is easy to identify with but there is something about the writing and editing that excludes the average reader. I kept thinking that I would understand the book better if I was from down east and preferably from Newfoundland. I still liked it.

Jan 27, 2016

Shortlist for Canada Reads 2016

I have to agree with wyenotgo. I feel it is a haphazard wandering of little bits heard from real life like the incinerator story and put together to not mean much. I thought it could be so much more.

Aug 27, 2015

Sorry, Mr. Winter but your sloppy writing just doesn't cut it. You may have had a story to tell -- certainly the central premise of a civilian contractor getting in the middle of a fatal attack in Afghanistan is timely enough; and that, combined with a man disappointed in love finding a new reason to go on could have developed into a compelling narrative. Your settings also had great promise: the austere beauty of Newfoundland, the unhealthy, dangerous environment of Afghanistan, the gritty, non-stop work routine of Fort McMurray. Henry could have developed into a central character that I as a reader would come to care about. But none of that happened. Your haphazard thought stream, meaningless phrases that didn't go anywhere or have anything to do with the topic or situation at hand, never mind a total disregard for coherent punctuation -- all that got in the way.
Your editors let you get away with all those bad writing habits and in so doing, they let you down.

smc01 Oct 15, 2014

This is the first of Michael Winter's books that I have read. I am a new fan. His writing is beautiful. I loved the characters in this book and his evocation of place.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HPL

To Top