Monday 10 December 2018

#BookReview The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash @TomBarbash @simonschusterUK @ScribnerUK

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A charming and wildly absorbing novel about the Winters, a family living in New York City’s famed Dakota apartment building in the year leading up to John Lennon’s assassination.

It’s the fall of 1979 in New York City when 23-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon.

But the more Anton finds himself enmeshed in his father’s professional and spiritual reinvention, the more he questions his own path, and fissures in the Winter family begin to threaten their close bond. By turns hilarious and poignant, The Dakota Winters is a family saga, a page-turning social novel, and a tale of a critical moment in the history of New York City and the country at large.

The epic and intimate story of a family living in the famed Upper West Side apartment building, The Dakota, in the year leading up to the John Lennon assassination, a moment that shaped a generation.


I was just little over a year old when John Lennon was killed, and writing this review is it just days after the 38 anniversary of his death. And, this story was extra poignant when you think about how much John Lennon had left to give when his life was cut short. This is a fictional story, but Tom Barbash writes in a way that makes it all feel real. Like Anton, his father Buddy and the rest of the family really existed. Cudos to Barbash to make fictional characters come to life.

I loved reading a story set in New York 79/80. I'm too young to remember those years, but nevertheless, it made me nostalgic. And, letting Dakota, one of the most iconic buildings in the city be the central point was a great move. I loved getting to know Anton and Buddy. To follow them as Anton tries to help his father return to the limelight as well as trying to find his own place outside his father's shadow. There is so much going on the world, the Olympics, Ted Kennedy's campaign. I really, really loved Joan Kennedy part in this story. As the saying goes, "behind every successful man there's a woman". And, Joan really showed in this story how to rise above Ted's infidelities. Not to mention standing by Ted, despite the Chappaquiddick incident that in the end ruined his political ambitions.

There is so much going in this book. I first gave the book four stars. However, when I started to write this review did I start to think about how much I enjoyed this story. And, how sad I was to have to say goodbye to Anton and the rest of the characters at the end of the book. So, I raised the rating to five stars. I warmly recommend this book!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

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