Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Snow Child; Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child; Eowyn Ivey
Reagan Arthur and Recorded Books - 2012

The Snow Child takes place somewhere around the 1920s, and tells the story of Jack and Mabel, a couple approaching 50 who moved to this Alaskan territory for a new way of life. Mabel is unable to have a child of their own after suffering a stillbirth back in Philadelphia.  Feeling like they need a fresh start, they move to wilderness Alaska. Knowing that living in the wilderness will mean hard work, something which the couple is not afraid of, they are not prepared for the harsh weather and food scarcity they face in their new surroundings.

Instead of the new area being a refreshing change of pace from their past in Philadelphia, life is rough and depressing. One day Jack and Mabel build a snow girl out of snow and decorate it with a warm red scarf. When morning comes the snow girl is gone but Jack finds child-sized footprints in the snow, and later, he sees a red fox and a young girl running through the snow. The girl is wearing the red scarf. Just who is this young child running through wilderness country in the freezing cold?

For a good portion of the novel the only people who see the child are the couple. She comes and goes and seems to disappear for long periods when the snow melts. Her name is Faina. When Mabel mentions the girl to her friend and neighbor Esther Benson, the woman wonders whether Mabel had imagined the girl rather than actually having seen her.

The story is based on a Russian fairy tale called The Snow Maiden, where a snow figure comes to life and draws her makers into its magical world. The Snow Child is a different kind of story about having hope when all seems lost. I don’t read a lot of books with magical realism, so I was surprised that I did enjoy listening to this novel, which was read by Debra Monk. I thought the writing was very descriptive, but felt the story itself a bit too long to sustain continuous interest (about 400 pp).  I loved how Mabel and Jack’s relationship had its highs and lows and eventually seemed to blossom again over the 10+ year time span of the story. The Alaskan terrain is beautifully captured, but in the case of foraging for food, killing a moose and chickens, I was upset by the fact TMI was detailed. I suspect that animal lovers will be troubled by this aspect of the novel. If you haven’t read this one yet, it's a good choice for a chilly or wintery weekend.

3.5/5 stars
(Library audio book)

17 comments:

  1. Magical realism doesn't always work for me but I've heard so many good things about this book I want to give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It usually doesn't work well for me either, so I was surprised.

      Delete
  2. I've been meaning to read this one for quite some time now. Might go with the audio book since I have so many print books stacked up at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you many about too many physical books. Sometimes I can listen to audios at work which is nice.

      Delete
  3. I didn't realize this was long. I really enjoyed this and flew through it. Thanks for sharing your great review.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Diane, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this (audio)book. I've been interested in it for a while. Like Pat, I didn't realize it was so long, either. I think the cover threw me off in that regard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know the cover makes it look like a childrens book LOL

      Delete
  5. I really enjoyed this one but I can see your point about some of the details being upsetting. I think I skimmed a lot of those parts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be easier to skim with a print edition...LOL

      Delete
  6. I read this, too. It doesn’t live up to the many wonderful reviews of it that I read. It is simply a retelling of a Russian fairy tale. It is full of unanswered questions.

    I won this book from Freda's Voice blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, definitely not 5/5 stars for me, but still enjoyable.

      Delete
  7. I wanted to wait until some of the praise for this one started to die down a bit and now I've forgotten about it! It sounds like a wonderfully beautiful book--though I do find that it's tougher to get away from TMI details on audio than paper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what happens to me, when I wait too long I forget about reading it..LOL

      Delete
  8. I read Snow Child with my book club a year or so ago. Most of the club members loved it, but not me. It was too much woo-woo for me. Also, as you said, it was too long. I think I'm getting impatient in my old age. Long books drag me down.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thsi one's been on my wish list so long that I forgot why. Thanks for the reminder :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm not sure my comments are going through. They seem to disappear!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)