You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this book – not if you enjoy stories about women; women helping other women, women helping themselves in a world full of men’s laws.

Trappings is the kind of book that pulls you in slowly but surely. If the historical customs and events don’t suck you in, the warmth of Kate’s large family is sure to. And if you’re like me, you’ll be googling them all to find out what became of their descendants. We need more stories like this; ones that give life to little-known, over-looked women of the past.

Full review:

Naomi MacKinnon, Consumed by Ink

Trappings takes place in the early Colonial days of British Columbia and excellently portrays those challenging times — most especially for women. Vanessa Winn’s vivid scenes are beautifully depicted… Kate’s tragic story is presented by Winn admirably and with hope. Trappings is an important and worthwhile piece of history which [she] has undertaken with care.

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Valerie Green, The Ormsby Review

Vanessa Winn tells Kate’s story in novelistic style underpinned by detailed research into the socio-economic milieu of 19th century Victoria. … It was a world of chaperones, match-makers, insiders, reprobates and daughters looking for husbands, reminiscent of comedy-dramas familiar to readers of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. 

Familiar motifs are there: bear attacks, overturned carriages and sinking ships, as well as quirky references. … Victoria has been called the most ghost-filled city in Canada, and Trappings doesn’t change that perception. … There is the hint of a (necessarily forbidden) love story, an attraction between Kate and a dashing military man, whose back-story included a challenging but high-minded career scandal. These intriguing historical snippets are what make Trappings an enjoyable read.

The interconnections among Kate’s many descendants provide a fascinating epilogue, rich in detail… Trappings conveys a feel for an earlier yet not too distant Victoria. It’s a welcome re-creation of time and place.

S. B. Julian, author of a collection of historical bio-sketches, Women Who Made the World

Trappings is a book that will please anyone who loves local Victoria history but wants it told in a novel way… Winn grounds her novel in extensive research, even providing a bibliography at the end. Every chapter begins with a quotation pertaining to the story, most often from The British Colonist, Victoria’s newspaper at the time. In fact, one could almost call the book biography rather than fiction. But where would be the fun in that?

Edeana Malcolm, President of Victoria Writers’ Society

If Jane Austen had been a daughter of the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, and looked through the wide social lens of Charles Dickens… she might have written a work similar to Vanessa Winn’s Trappings. A companion book to her excellent first novel, The Chief Factor’s Daughter, Winn elaborates on her portrait of the Work family–one of the founding families of Victoria, British Columbia–through the eyes of Kate Wallace (nee Work), a spirited young woman caught, as Winn writes “in the matrimonial snare”. As Kate struggles to reckon with a reckless and negligent husband, and the devastating loss of young children, her heart reawakens in the unexpected love of another man. Kate’s is a stark and vivid example of the hardships faced by women of her time, yet it is redemptive through the powerful family network of her mother and sisters. Winn’s research is formidable, and she writes with a confident, elegant hand.

Jenny Jaeckel, author of House of Rougeaux

Around a sturdy structure of historical facts, she wove a beautiful tapestry of emotions and motives, making Kate come alive for modern readers… Whether you’re a lover of historical fiction or curious to know more about British Columbia, I recommend both The Chief Factor’s Daughter and Trappings.

Bonnie Way, Vancouver blogger and mom

Vanessa Winn’s first historical novel, The Chief Factor’s Daughter (TouchWood, 2009) imagines the world of a real-life Métis woman, Margaret Work (who lived in Victoria in the mid-1800s just as the gold rush was getting underway). Following in a similar fashion, Winn’s second novel Trappings (Oakheart Press $24.95) carries on re-creating colonial Victoria life, this time through the younger Work sister, Kate. Trappings also takes place primarily in Victoria, but includes other places as well and the time period is the aftermath of B.C.’s gold rushes. Married at 18, Kate has a difficult family life. Her home, Point Ellice House (a present day National Heritage Site), is put at risk by her husband’s business speculations and their lives become intertwined with the political power struggles between Victoria and New Westminster. Kate knows little of her husband’s family in Nova Scotia or the reasons they fled its ruling elite. Of more concern to Kate is that she must face the laws and ambitions of men to protect her only legacy — her daughter.

BC BookLook

What impresses me most about Winn’s novel is how she uses the characters of Margaret Work and her sisters to unobtrusively foreground the injustices they faced in terms of race, class, and gender…In fact, it is in Winn’s examination of the intersections of race, class, and gender, and in the unstated bravery of her characters, that I find her work to be most superb.

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Mark Diotte, BC Studies : The British Columbian Quarterly

Vanessa Winn’s debut novel explores pride and prejudice in Victoria… [Winn] deftly weaves together history and fiction to form an informative and engrossing story… The book conveys a vivid sense of the flavour of the times… With its graceful style and appealing characters, it provides a great introduction to an historical study of British Columbia for readers of all ages.

Full review:

Joan Givner, BC BookWorld