Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Snow Queen: A Novel” as Want to Read:
The Snow Queen: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Snow Queen: A Novel

3.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,385 Ratings  ·  795 Reviews
A darkly luminous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours

Michael Cunningham’s luminous novel begins with a vision. It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barr
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Picador (first published January 1st 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Snow Queen, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Tristan It's hard to tell, but I don't think so--his goal is to understand, not to die.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 14, 2014 Reed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not and did not connect with this novel by one of my favorite contemporary writers. And the overuse of parentheticals (parentheticals everywhere) (and once a parenthetical following a parenthetical) (all much to my annoyance) was beyond distracting. Even so, stylistic quirks aside (annoying though they were) (annoyance being the overpowering effect of this slim volume), ain't much here to ponder or (in my case) enjoy.
May 17, 2015 Veronica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. Does winning a Pulitzer Prize give you license to pen indulgent "literary" drivel, punctuated with showy vocabulary words and boring, navel-gazing, delusional characters who have mastered the art of the banal inner monologue? I tried very hard to get into this book, but then I remembered that life is fleeting and PRECIOUS and I could not justify wasting any more time than I already had listening to this nonsense, even if it WAS read to me by Claire Danes. In fact, the narration on the audi ...more
Aug 13, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If The Hours is Cunningham's Virginia Woolf book (and it is) and Specimen Days has Walt Whitman as its guiding star (and it does, though thanks to the perception shown in my friend James Murphy's review, I was also able to view Whitman as a Dantean Virgil figure and now that I've since read The Divine Comedy, I see that more clearly), this is arguably Cunningham's Henry James book -- stylistically that is, with there not being much of a plot (though perhaps a very faint echo of The Wings of the ...more
Stephen P

Michael Cunningham, author of The Pulitzer Prize winning The Hours, creates a story about the unseen in his current novel, The Snow Queen. Two brothers, not seen by their parents turn to each other to provide a closeness to commandeer a validation of their existence, worth. The plot is further complicated by the wife of one brother suffering over time from a terminal cancer. Bed-bound, she is seen. Carefully, she is ministered to providing her husband a sense of much sought for meaning in life,
Ron Charles
Jesus warned that only “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign,” but what if a miraculous sign flashes over your head? What are you supposed to do — look away?

That’s the question confounding Barrett Meeks, the protagonist of Michael Cunningham’s contemplative new novel, “The Snow Queen.” Barrett isn’t looking for divine reassurance as he wanders through Central Park. He’s just trying not to feel discouraged about his latest breakup — by text message (ouch). And yet there
May 14, 2014 Cat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had such a divided reaction to this book, and I'll start with my complaints so that I can leave off with the beautiful, poignant parts. The grumbling response: I am tired of books about hipsters, their crippling detachment, their drug abuse, their careful fashions, their longing for greatness. I'm looking at you, A Visit from the Goon Squad. And also, though in a goofier, happier mode, Telegraph Avenue. Are all writers hipsters who live in New York or San Francisco? Is that why la vie d'hipste ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I mean, I guess? I get we're all searching for something beyond love and what to have for dinner, a desire for a sense of meaning, a sense of transcendence, etc. but when I finished the last page I was left wondering what this book is actually about (aside from chronicling random bits of the lives of a few lost New Yorkers). If I had to sum it up? Love is powerful. Okay, yeah. We get it, Michael.

Oct 09, 2014 Margarita rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel is a perfect example of pretention. The writing is pretentious. Conversations between characters are unrealistic and reek of terrible, superficial intellectualism and philosophical insight that makes you want to gag. There is no plot. None. It's just an exercise in over-the-top descriptive drivel with the very thin thread of Beth's sickness to tie it together. I couldn't have been more disappointed with this work from a touted, multi-award winning author.
switterbug (Betsey)
Cunningham’s new novel is a fertile character study with a minimalist plot. There’s a central premise that hovers (literally!) over the story and provides a pique of low-grade excitement. Thirty-eight year-old Barrett Meeks, a scholar and underachiever who is low on funds and works in retail at a vintage store, has recently received a break-up text from his latest boyfriend. Walking through Central Park four days later, he sees a transcendent, numinous image in the sky.

“ A pale aqua light, trans
Jun 08, 2015 Cat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Gosh, no! I still remember, I don't know how many years ago, trying to read 'The Hours' (in Portuguese) and having to put the book aside. I don't remember what made me not want to continue, but I thought that, after some years, I would be able to read and enjoy a Michael Cunningham book.

Well, I'm glad I picked a rather short one! Maybe I lack maturity to appreciate this, maybe it's just not my style, or maybe I just don't like Cunningham's writing, what he does with his characters. Maybe he is o
May 31, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I called the store, a kind man at the Green Arcade in San Francisco agreed to put a copy of The Snow Queen aside for me on May 7, the day after its release.* Apparently, my enthusiasm showed, because when I walked into the store he knew immediately that I had come to claim my copy. I wasn’t surprised, because I felt breathless and flushed, as if reuniting with a lover.

Reading this book was better than any such assignation.

The story, of Barrett Meeks and his brother and roommate Tyler, both
May 26, 2014 Alena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
From the start, this novel reminded me of La Boheme (or Rent for less operatic readers). We have illness, addiction, sex, money problems and even "visions" all in a crumbling apartment. I could practically hear the music swelling under the scenes. And, in fact, the overly indulgent look into these self-centered 20, 30 and 40 something's does ever into the melodramatic.

But it's also brilliant in many moments. The quality of writing alone rescues this novel from sappy to breathtaking.

Aug 20, 2014 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beauty of Michael Cummingham's sentences are to savior --not devour!

Here is a sample:

"Barrett does his best to transit some kind of healing force, through the palm of his hand. Then he walks out of the sickroom, returns to the comforting normalcy of the hall, and heads to the kitchen, where Tyler is awake, where coffee has been made, where rampancy of life, even in its most rudimentary form, plays like enchanted piper; where Tyler, suitor and swain, ferocious of brow, thin but athletically
Larry Hoffer
May 09, 2014 Larry Hoffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barrett and Tyler Meeks are brothers. They're different in many ways—Barrett, who is gay, hasn't been able to settle down enough in his life to pursue a serious vocation, while Tyler is a struggling musician, obsessed with what is going on in the world around him. But they're also fairly similar, as both brothers are fiercely protective of each other (owing to a promise each made separately to their mother when they were younger), and neither is utterly satisfied with the direction their life is ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Sve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Обичам Кънингам и неговите объркани, измъчвани от екзистенциални кризи и оплетени в странни връзки чудаци.
И да, тази книга е по-слаба от "Дом на края на света" или "Дни образци". Действието е фокусирано почти изцяло във вътрешния свят на героите, което вероятно ще се стори тегаво и може би претенциозно за някой, който за пръв път подхваща книга на този автор.
И въпреки това - дори слабите книги на добър автор са по-добри от силните на слаб писач.
Jan 25, 2014 Bri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know what I just read. It was so episodic and vague and the characters were fairly unlikeable. It was hard to get invested in this one.
Ayelet Waldman
I think maybe it's because I read this on my Ipad. I kept losing track of the story. I so much prefer to read an actual book.
May 14, 2015 Ikebukuro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Encore une fois, la poésie et la mélancolie qui se dégage des romans de Michael Cunningham nous touchent au cœur dans Snow Queen. A travers cette galerie de portraits, l'auteur nous propose un puzzle d'émotions et de sentiments qui nous bousculent et nous charment. Comment ne pas s'attacher à Barrett, Tyler, Beth, Liz, Andrew, Sam ? Ces personnages un peu paumés et pourtant plein d'espoir face à la mort, à la maladie, à l'amour, à l'attente et à la vie tout simplement… Ces personnages en quête d ...more
Nancy Brisson
May 30, 2014 Nancy Brisson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I love about Michael Cunningham is that he is a reader’s writer. His literary allusions are satisfyingly extended metaphors that enrich the story he is telling. That effect is most profound if you are intimately familiar with the particular writer or genre he is riffing on, but I am guessing that it embellishes the overall message of his story whether you get the allusion or not. This particular novel is decorated and layered with imagery. His novel The Hours was just about as perfect as a ...more
Beth Anne
gah. another so so read. my expectations may have been too high, but i really feel that the author didn't live up to what he was trying to achieve. i think Cunningham writes beautiful sentences. but when you put them together i think sometimes they become overwhelming. the plot of the story is lost in all the beautiful writing.

i didn't get any references to the Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen), except for the fact that there was snow. i didn't find the conflict worth anything. i didn't find
Dec 25, 2015 Sina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 Sterne
Sep 16, 2014 T4ncr3d1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: statunitensi
C'è un curioso rigore matematico che contraddistingue la carriera letteraria di Cunningham: ogni cinque anni esce un romanzo. Ne sono passati poco meno di quattro dall'ultimo. Forse sarebbe stato meglio se si fosse preso quell'anno in più per completare questo romanzo, che anche al lettore più disattento apparirà ben presto come privo di sostanza.
La scrittura c'è, ed è sempre quella bellissima di Cunningham, rimarresti ore a veder scintillare ogni singola parola, quasi fosse davvero un irripetib
Aug 05, 2014 Miguel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: resenha-sqf

«Parece que o amor chega não só sem se fazer anunciar, mas também tão acidentalmente, tão aleatoriamente, que te faz pensar porque é que tu, porque é que alguém há-de acreditar nas leis de causa e efeito.» (p. 239)
Terri Jacobson
Jun 13, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is the first book I have read by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Cunningham, and I have to say I was quite impressed. The story unfolds and the characters are developed so that you're drawn in from the first word. And the writing! The writing is beautiful and detailed and emotionally complicated, its tragic and comic in turns. The story involves 2 brothers in New York City whose grown-up lives are heavily intertwined. Tyler is a frustrated musician taking care of his very sick girlfri ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Cate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Who is the Snow Queen in Michael Cunningham book? The first answer that pops into my head after finishing this novel is who cares? This was a story without much of a plot, filled with flat characters and some seriously self indulgent writing. It's short, but even so, I found myself just skimming over long, dull paragraphs of blahblahblah, looking for the parts where something actually happens.

We begin with Barrett, whose walking through Central Park and sees a light in the sky - what is this li
Jul 25, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If I had to choose just one word to describe this book I do believe I would go with honesty. There is no space for sugarcoating in this novel. Don't expect these characters to look out for your feelings, for your susceptibilities. They will be so blunt they will hurt you. They will make you think non-stop from sunset to sunrise and back again. They will whisper truths in your ear till you allow your eyes to open and see that change is nothing but acceptance, nothing but a step forward on the lon ...more
Erin Chandler
May 29, 2014 Erin Chandler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've just spent a few weeks in Brooklyn, in the middle winter, with two brothers Barrett and Tyler. Barrett is a kick, my kind of hermit. A quick witted, half sullen, loner far too cool to bother with anything but the bare minimum. At the moment he's working at his friend Liz's novelty shop. Liz is strangely accessible for the tough NYC chick that she is. Barrett lives with his brother, Tyler, a musician whose time has pretty much passed. Tyler has a secret love affair with cocaine w ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, leituras-2014
Conheço Michael Cunningham apenas de As Horas, um dos melhores livros, e já agora filmes, que li/vi até agora. E, como tal, estava com grandes expectativas em relação ao novo livro do autor publicado em Portugal, A Rainha da Neve.

Mais uma vez, Michael Cunningham é exímio em criar personagens com conteúdo psicológico intenso, fortes mas ao mesmo tempo frágeis, com vidas complicadas.

Opinião completa:
Nancy Wiltgen
Sep 01, 2014 Nancy Wiltgen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was a complete waste of time. As Veronica pointed out in her review, the only redeeming quality in the audio version is the brilliant reading by Claire Danes. And not having to read apparently many, many parenthetical side tracks. I kept listening because I hoped the story - what little there was - would take shape or something interesting would form out of the drivel, but, alas, suddenly the book was over and .... nothing.
Oct 27, 2015 Lulu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get on board with this story. Unlikeable characters, sad plot lines, just a dreary read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
So...who is the Snow Queen? 6 67 Aug 27, 2014 07:22AM  
ending? 1 21 Aug 24, 2014 04:24PM  
Book Keeping: The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham 2 23 Jul 15, 2014 04:21PM  
  • American Innovations: Stories
  • Starting Over: Stories
  • In the Wolf's Mouth: A Novel
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • The Blazing World
  • The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel
  • Casebook
  • Off Course
  • In Paradise
  • Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
  • Tumbledown
  • The Possibilities
  • Falling Out of Time
  • Muse
  • Highfell Grimoires
  • Black Deutschland: A Novel
  • Plays Well with Others
  • The Rise & Fall of Great Powers
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His new novel, The Snow Queen, will be published in May of 2014. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University.
More about Michael Cunningham...

Share This Book

“People are more than you think they are. And they’re less, as well. The trick lies in negotiating your way between the two.” 10 likes
“It's hardly ever the destination we've been anticipating, is it? Our hopes may seem unrealized, but we were in all likelihood hoping for the wrong thing. Where did we - the species, that is - pick up that strange and perverse habit?” 5 likes
More quotes…