Jennifer Lane's Reviews > The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
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really liked it
bookshelves: book-club, historical-romance

The Thin Line Between Reality and Fantasy

When my book club chose this story about a 1920's married couple building a child out of snow, I was doubtful I would enjoy it. But I'm glad I gave it a try because this book was a delight!

Mabel and Jack have endured quite a few sadnesses in their years of marriage, but the most notable is their inability to conceive following the stillborn death of their first child. Motherless Mabel feels less than whole as a woman, and Jack feels helpless to ease her pain. Perhaps in an effort to escape their grief, they leave family in Pennsylvania to relocate to Alaska, where they try to farm the harsh, desolate land.

The first snowstorm brings out Mabel's playful side, and when she throws a snowball at her over-worked husband, he seems to come alive as well. They build a snowman (snow-girl) and dress her with a scarf and mittens. The next morning the showgirl has disappeared. But then a blond pixie girl who lives in the snowy forest starts showing up to the homestead. Did they create this girl out of snow?

This story is magical. I love the blurred lines between cynical realism and whimsical fantasy. There is also excellent characterization. I grew to love Mabel and Jack, and the little girl fascinated me. But my favorite character was their outspoken neighbor Esther, who reminded me of Kathy Bates on steroids. They grow 'em tough in Alaska!

Amazingly, this is a debut novel, and the author captures the vast beauty of her home state of Alaska exquisitely:

Everything was sparkled and sharp, as if the world were new, hatched that very morning from an icy egg. Willow branches were cloaked in hoarfrost, waterfalls encased in ice, and the snowy land speckled with the tracks of a hundred wild animals: red-backed voles, coyotes and fox, fat-footed lynx, moos and dancing magpies.

I read this as we got an early snowfall in Ohio--perfect timing. I have some questions about the ending and I look forward to discussing them in book club. Highly recommended!
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Reading Progress

November 13, 2014 – Started Reading
November 13, 2014 – Shelved
November 14, 2014 –
page 109
28.24% "Didn't think this would be my thing but really enjoying it."
November 15, 2014 –
page 173
44.82% "Hopeful for Mabel and Jack."
November 16, 2014 –
page 240
62.18% "Where has Faina been? Intriguing."
November 17, 2014 –
page 309
80.05% "Can't wait to see how this ends."
November 19, 2014 – Shelved as: book-club
November 19, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-romance
November 19, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken Great review. Stands right up there with my best book, last year man booker finalist, The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. Books that balance between myth and reality.


Jennifer Lane Thanks, Richard. I haven't heard of The Fishermen--I'll check it out. Typically I'm not a fantasy fan but this book lured me in.


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