I’ve just finished The Snow Child and it was a beautifully written novel. This is not the type of book that I would normally pick up without some prompting. I don’t really like novels set in cold climates and it’s premise of being based on a Russian fairy tale didn’t sound appealing in the least. But I kept seeing the cover pop up on Goodreads and The Readers were doing an interview with the author, Eowyn Ivey and I do spend time in Alaska so I decided to hurry up and read it before Simon and Gav did their interview with her on The Readers.
I am so very glad that I did! It’s hard to believe that this a debut novel. The descriptions of life in Alaska just jump off the page and are so vivid and clear that I could almost feel the cold air kissing my cheeks and hear the snow crunching under my feet. Well, I have to admit it is pretty cold in my neck of the woods right now, but I still think I would have felt cold, isolated and shivery even if I was reading this in August! It’s just that good.
Set in 1920’s Alaska, Mabel and Jack have decided to leave Jack’s family farm in Pennsylvania and set up roots in the wilds of Alaska. There is a sadness within themselves and within their marriage. You see Mabel and Jack’s only child was born stillborn and now in their early 50’s they still long for what might have been if they were able to have a child.
After two years of struggling to farm their small plot of land in Alaska, and a long winter ahead of them with the prospect of little food, they are about to give it up and head back East when fate intervenes. First Jack is befriended by George, a long time homesteader. George and his wife Esther and their three children take the couple under their wing and help curb the isolation and loneliness as well as give them practical advice on how to survive the upcoming winter and most importantly hope.
Then something even more miraculous occurs. The night of the first snowfall, Mabel is giddy and happier than she’s been in a long time. She and Jack play in the snow and build a snow girl, complete with carved face, scarf and mittens but when they arise the next morning their snow girl is in ruins and the scarf and mittens gone.
Soon after this, first Jack and then Mabel spot a young, blonde girl hiding in the woods surrounding their cabin wearing the missing scarf and mittens. Is she real? I think I will let you read this glorious book and discover that for yourself!
Dashing through this book, I fell in love with the authors prose and hope she will be writing something else very soon!