Julius lives alone in the remote woods, deep in Maine. His only company is his trusting dog Hobbes (named after either the philosopher, or the Fast & Furious character), and the three thousand books left to him by his deceased father.
His cabin offers little solitude as the winter draws in creating an increasing sense of danger from the billowing trees around him. The place he calls home is now under threat from hunters, so much so, his beloved dog has been shot dead.
It’s up to Julius to find out who committed this atrocious act and why.
The majority of the book takes place during the winter months; when the snow is thick on the ground, and the air chills its wonderers to the bone.
Donovan’s descriptions of these moments are breath-taking; however, this is maybe to be expected from a writer known previously for his vast array of poetry.
A moment that sticks out most in this book is the burying of Hobbes. Julius is laying to rest his one true friend, his only form of companionship due to an inconceivable act of evil.
Donovan builds the tension slowly as the hole is dug within the snowy grounds of his cabin, the dog paced inside, and then steadily covered.
On top is a makeshift tombstone in the form of a stick, Hobbes’ own.
This symbol of death is referred to on many occasions throughout the book, each time with more grit and determination, as Julius hunts down the killer(s).
In part, I think this moment’s memorable, for me at least, because I grew up with animals. One thing this will lead to is their inevitable death, something you have no choice but to deal with (See the Hedgehog in Stupid Children).
Julius has the potential to touch upon readers in different manners. For others, it could be the death of a loved one, isolation from society, or even the feelings of wanting revenge.
Although the book isn’t ‘enjoyable’ per-say, it’s incredibly well written and suspenseful. The prose is beautifully crafted, the characters feel genuine, and the action is plenty if a little rough.
On the opposite side, the story is centred on a lonely individual who wants nothing more than to be left in peace; who finally snaps under the pressure of outsiders.
For this reason, don’t expect too much joy to come from reading Julius Winsome, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!