Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey

I didn't mean to finish this book so quickly. I have a week off work for the holidays, time to relax and spend with family; I should have made my leisurely, lazy way through this nearly-400-page book over a week or more, but I just couldn't help it. It flew by.

This is the story of a middle-aged couple homesteading in Alaska in 1920. (THAT part of the synopsis held absolutely no interest for me. I'm one of those weird people who sees no appeal in the harsh beauty of the cold north.) Jack is working his fingers to the bone in his fields and making no headway; Mabel is desperately drawn to the isolation they've found, but at the same time it is destroying her; and both nurse their unfulfilled desire for children. Winter is coming on, and neither is confident that they'll survive. Depressing, right?

But with the first snowfall, the magic begins. In a rare moment of uncharacteristic high spirits, Jack and Mabel have a snowball fight, then build a snowman--or, rather, a little snowgirl. The next morning, the snowgirl is gone . . . but is that a child they see flitting through the trees?

The story was such a nice mix of fairy tale and mystery, tempered by grim reality. On Monday evening, when I told Sam what I'd read so far and how much I was enjoying it, his assessment was that the story sounded too sentimental. And I assured him that it wasn't at all--if it sounded that way, it was just because I'd described it poorly. However, I did find that it tended towards the sentimental at the end, but by then I was invested enough that a bit of extra sweetness didn't bother me at all.

No comments: