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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
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The Snow Child (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Eowyn Ivey

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1,5431424,732 (4.01)196
Member:madeleinescott
Title:The Snow Child
Authors:Eowyn Ivey
Info:Headline Review (2012), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Read January 2013

Work details

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Author) (2012)

1920s (26) 2012 (22) 2013 (19) Alaska (160) American (12) ebook (21) fairy tale (36) fairy tales (54) fairy tales retold (12) family (16) fantasy (38) fiction (188) grief (8) historical (14) historical fiction (54) homesteading (20) Kindle (23) literary fiction (8) magical realism (56) novel (13) own (11) read (19) read in 2012 (29) read in 2013 (17) snow (17) to-read (120) unread (10) USA (12) wilderness (10) winter (14)
  1. 30
    The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel by Ali Shaw (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: Same delicate language and imagery, a similar sense of wistful beauty and elements of magical realism.
  2. 01
    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Iudita)
  3. 01
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (suniru)
    suniru: Both books center upon orphans and both have fairy tale roots.
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» See also 196 mentions

English (133)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (137)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
This book caught my attention when it came out a few years ago and luckily, my book club decided to read it this year. Although I believe it was a great book club selection, last month when we were scheduled to discuss this book, a snowstorm caused us to postpone our meeting, resulting in very low attendance when we finally did get a chance to meet.

A couple that has seen their fair share of heartaches has decided to throw all their troubles to the wind and head north to live in Alaska. They want to start their life over and they feel that living in the raw wilderness will be just what they need. Life turns out to be more rough than either Jack or Mabel anticipate but they dig their heels in, doing whatever they can to make ends meet.

Mabel is especially lonely as she doesn't venture far from their remote homestead. While Jack travels to the local town for supplies when needed, she stays back at the cabin, cooking, cleaning, or making other preparations for their survival. When young Faina seems to appear out of a blizzard during her hour of loneliness, Mabel welcomes her with open arms.

Faina's appearances become mysterious, as when the spring thaw is upon them they know they will not see her until the next winter. Mabel is anxious to introduce Faina to her neighbors, but whenever a friend knocks on their door Faina is nowhere to be found.

Faina fills a void in Jack and Mabel's lives, breathing fresh life into their souls. This was a beautiful story and I'm sure the ladies in my book club enjoyed it as much as I did. With themes of mystery, love, loss, and family, I'm sure you would enjoy this book as much as I did. I highly recommend this novel as a book club selection or for personal leisure. ( )
  jo-jo | Mar 22, 2014 |
Wonderful story loosely based on the fairy tales: The Snow Child and The Snow Maiden. Jack and Mabel lose their only child in a preterm birth. Looking to get away, they move to Alaska in 1920 to homestead. They're in their late 40's and the life is harsh. The are befriended by the Benson's and when Jack can't farm, Garrett Benson, 13 yo, moves in and helps them. Faina lives in the woods. Jack and Mabel see her, but no one else does, until one day Garrett sees her and falls in love. Faina tries to live a settlers life, but in the end, she disappears, leaving Garrett and her infant son behind. At parts hopeful and other times heartbreaking, this was a wonderful story. I was in Alaska last summer, and that helped with the understanding of the Alaskan wilderness and lovely descriptions. This is now on it's way to the next reader in the book ray. ( )
  nancynova | Mar 21, 2014 |
An old man and an old woman.
They never had the child they wished for.
The Alaskan wilderness in the 1920's and 1930's.
They built a girl made of snow.
Soon after a child appeared wearing the snowgirl's red mittens
and scarf.
Was she a snow child?

This book is very beautifully written.
The writing is lyrical and eloquent.
I got caught up in the language of it.
Instantly quotable. ( )
  LynnGW | Mar 8, 2014 |
Feral child or fairy child? Human or spirit? Eowyn Ivey’s masterful retelling of the Russian fairy tale Snegurochka takes readers along two equally improbable paths. Mable and Jack settle in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1920s as a way of coping with the their inability to produce children. When the snow girl they create disappears and a young girl appears in the woods near their cabin, a last opportunity to have a family seems to be within their reach. Lyrical and evocative, this debut novel is a study in contrasts: grief and joy, isolation and community, natural beauty and the dangers of the northern landscape. In the end, what remains is a sense of wonder and a memory of the Snow Child, as light as Faina’s footsteps in the snow. ( )
  PeggyDean | Mar 4, 2014 |
I'm puzzled as to why this isn't considered Young Adult. Well, more of an eyebrow raise of sardonic 'Really? You're going to go that way?', for I have a pretty good idea of why this was pushed up into the adult realm. I simply don't agree with the argument for such.

Now, I adore new renditions of old tales as a matter of principle, for a host of reasons ranging from the past being a foreign and sometimes hateful country, to a childhood lust for urban fantasy that I never quite outgrew. Any story may be retold, but even my current appetite for more sedate literature has not dampened the intrigue that sparks up whenever I see mention of a fairy tale told anew. It is that otherworldly aura in the hard-bitten setting of modern times that I crave, the best being the exquisite balance between the baleful spikes of reality and the Old Testament viciousness of Grimm. Needless to say, I went into this story with definite expectations.

Said expectations were not carried through. The characters were solid yet utterly predictable, the plot meandered along the original story line with little effort to circumvent the old with the delightful heartbeat of the new, and that visual imagery I had heard so much about failed to inspire the slightest bit of enraptured imagination. Instead, I was left with the feeling that while the author should get credit for creating realistic letters for her non-writerly characters to send to each other, I would have preferred it had this subpar decency not carried through the entirety of the book. When choosing between characters at a realistic level of scripting and a masterful author more concerned with writing than with believable differentiation, I will always choose the latter.

I must mention that during the reading of this I was also being simultaneously bowled over by [b:Wide Sargasso Sea|44597|Wide Sargasso Sea|Jean Rhys|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327870846s/44597.jpg|142647], whose sharply lined prose of dripping luridness would likely have paled the majority of most novels' imagery to a fraction of their power when in solitude. This dual reading may have also contributed to the feeling of reading drag. WSS is half the length of TSC with much briefer sentences, but every word of every line of every page is steeped in meaningful craftsmanship. Compared to this, TSC comes off as both clumsy in structure and bloated in the packing peanuts rather than the dense sense of the word; the page paid per inch of insight was high with this one.

In the end, it is this overarching simplicity that both failed to appeal to me as well as made me wonder at the lack of Young Adult label on this book. Granted, there are a number of references to sex and other more erotic undertakings, but never were they explicated beyond a few vague hints at the less 'obscene' body parts. 'Twas this reason that likely shoved the rating up, a false inflation in my mind that is no way accompanied by the usual increase in brutality or complexity of literature for maturer audiences.

Ah well. At least it didn't win the Pulitzer. That would have sunk my evaluation of the Prize itself even lower. ( )
  Korrick | Feb 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ivey, EowynAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arlinghaus, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chapman, IsabelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grinde, HeidiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, Marielle NielsenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, ToniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ransome, ArthurContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'Wife, let us go into the yard behind and make a little snow girl; and perhaps she will come alive, and be a little daughter to us.'
'Husband' says the old woman, 'there's no knowing what may be. Let us go into the yard and make a little snow girl.'

The Little Daughter of the Snow' by Arthur Ransome
Dedication
For my daughters, Grace and Aurora
First words
Mabel had known there would be silence.
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Book description
A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska.

Jack and Mabel have staked everything on making a fresh start for themselves in a homestead 'at the world's edge' in the raw Alaskan wilderness. But as the days grow shorter, Jack is losing his battle to clear the land, and Mabel can no longer contain her grief for the baby she lost many years before.

The evening the first snow falls, their mood unaccountably changes. In a moment of tenderness, the pair are surprised to find themselves building a snowman - or rather a snow girl - together. The next morning, all trace of her has disappeared, and Jack can't quite shake the notion that he glimpsed a small figure - a child? - running through the spruce trees in the dawn light. And how to explain the little but very human tracks Mabel finds at the edge of their property?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairytale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic - the story of a couple who take a child into their hearts, all the while knowing they can never truly call her their own.
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Homesteaders Jack and Mabel have carved out a quiet life of hard work and routine for themselves in the wilderness that is 1920's Alaska, both still deeply longing for the child it's now impossible for them to have. Yet their love for each other is strong and in a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they play together building a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but a trail of tiny footsteps remains. For weeks following, they both catch glimpses of a blond little girl alone in the woods but neither dare mention it to the other, afraid that long-buried hopes have overruled common sense.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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