The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Group Read Discussions > The Snow Child

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10025 comments Mod
Today kicks off our month long read-a-long with The Book Concierge and The Snow Child.

She'll be by shortly to get the discussion started, but in the meantime, who's read it?


message 2: by Ethan (new)

Ethan | 1260 comments I read this one as a galley copy a couple years ago. It is a great folktale of a story that is perfect for our winter group read!


message 3: by Portia (new)

Portia | 16 comments I've been meaning to so this group read is perfect.


message 4: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) I have to finish my F2F book group read first, but will start this one by this weekend.

The Snow Child is a debut novel. In general, how do you approach author debut works? Are you "first in line" to try something new, or do you wait a while to see whether the novel is getting good reviews?


message 5: by Pam (new)

Pam | 20 comments A little of both Book Concierge...lol. When I find myself unsure about a book I tend to read lots of reviews, but sometimes it does tend to spoil the excitement of opening an unknown book to see what "treasures" lay inside.


message 6: by Portia (new)

Portia | 16 comments Often, reviewers do spoil. I try to stop reading/turn off the radio/TV when I sense a spoil. But I still like to know what certain fave reviewers have to say.


message 7: by Albert (new)

Albert | 17 comments I read this one quite some time back and it is one of my favorite books I read that year. A modernizing of an old Eastern European folk tale that is done beautifully.


message 8: by Susan (last edited Dec 01, 2015 06:32PM) (new)

Susan Hess | 2 comments I found this beautiful book while traveling in Alaska this past summer. The author, Eowyn Ivey, does an excellent job of making the reader feel as if they are an observer in the story...watching the action take place.


message 9: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) I read The Snow Child a couple years ago, and then gave it to my mother to read (she is 93). It's a really captivating story, and very unusual. My mother said she'd never read anything quite like it, and loved it. It is a book I will re-read someday, I'm sure. For now, I will watch the discussion, and maybe add to it eventually. It's an excellent choice for a winter's read... Enjoy!


message 10: by Chere (new)

Chere J | 12 comments I read The Snow Child in January 2014. I love the vivid pictures the story painted of the forest wilderness. The bond of love that grew in this family impressed me.


message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen Loved The Snow Child


message 12: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 572 comments I have just started reading it.
For some reason although I love nursery rhymes I don't really get on with fairy stories so I wouldn't have chosen it off the shelf. But it received a strong recommendation from Simon at The Reader's podcast and then a couple of months ago I received a copy when a colleague's wife purged her bookshelves.
So far all the running through the forest in the snow is reminding me of Child 44 which is giving it a scary feel.


message 13: by Karen (new)

Karen It's not scary at all though..


message 14: by Constance (new)

Constance McKee (constance_mckee) | 21 comments I really enjoyed The Snow Child. It's a folk tale and definitely not scary.

I don't treat a debut novel any differently than any other novel. I still read what others have said about it to see if it sounds interesting.


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen Speaking of debut novels, many of them are the best I have read.


message 16: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Coleman (sjcoleman) | 10 comments On hold at my library. The synopsis really made me want to read it. I love an off-beat folk tale.


message 17: by Pam (new)

Pam | 20 comments Just picked up the book yesterday.


message 18: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 572 comments Karen wrote: "It's not scary at all though.."
It doesn't need to be, my imagination fills in the blanks. All that blindly running after the child into the snowy forest - I imagine disaster round every corner.
That is good because it means the writing is atmospheric which I enjoy.


message 19: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 24 comments I've been avoiding this book. Fairy tales aren't really my style so I kept putting it off despite the many recommendations. I'm only on chapter three but the writing is beautiful and I am already interested in these characters. I'm kicking myself for not having read it already.


I tend to be drawn to debut novels. I find that because an author doesn't have to protect their reputation or style, doesn't have to meet expectations, that debuts are often more daring and raw. I usually don't pay attention to reviews unless I'm on the fence about putting in the time to read.


message 20: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments Does the debut mean that this is the authors first novel?
If so do you think the this is why she chose a fairy tale style?
I'd love to talk more about the book itself....
Thanks, E.


message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen Jennifer wrote: "I've been avoiding this book. Fairy tales aren't really my style so I kept putting it off despite the many recommendations. I'm only on chapter three but the writing is beautiful and I am already i..."

Fairy tales aren't my thing either, but I really loved this book, another book that has the magic of a fairy tale, but is so good, is OF BEES AND MIST, it was a Blue Ribbon book award winner

Also, most debut novels that I've read are really great, I am drawn to them also :)


message 22: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Coleman (sjcoleman) | 10 comments Still waiting on my library copy to come in. Soon I hope. The book looks quite appealing to me. I love a fairytale myself, especially the more obscure ones.

As for debut novels... I'm with ya. Several come to mind off the bat.


message 23: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments An updated take on a folklore story. The writing was pleasant and the plot moved along very quickly. The setting is Alaska in the 1920s in an isolated homestead. Alaska is a very popular destination for reality TV right now (Gold Rush, Alaska Rail Road etc.). And the author is from that state, so it felt very authentic.


message 24: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) Several people have mentioned the setting
"snowy forest"
"isolated homestead"

Obviously you need snow to have the snow child ... but what other ways does the landscape / weather / setting contribute to the story?


message 25: by Madelyn (new)

Madelyn (madhalverson) Just finished The Snow Child this weekend. It was a little juvenile for me. Not my favorite.


message 26: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Barter (emuriel777) | 59 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Several people have mentioned the setting
"snowy forest"
"isolated homestead"

Obviously you need snow to have the snow child ... but what other ways does the landscape / weather / setting contribu..."

In 'The Snow Child', the woman , is depressed and realises how easy it would be to walk into a river and drown herself,it about then she sees the lost child.I think the setting contributes to her depression and adds a bit of mysticism to the novel. It's not for everyone 'The Snow Child', I think it appeals to those of us who enjoy a little mysticism in our novels.


message 27: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments The descriptions really add to the books feeling of rawness and definitely adds an emotional component to the story. Bear cub dens and snow and cabins built in the woods. It is all wonderful and terrifying and spooky.


message 28: by Pam (new)

Pam | 20 comments She is almost trapped in her home surrounded by wilderness, snow and ice. I would feel depressed and lonely myself.


message 29: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) I'm about half-way done and can't help but wonder ...
I'm just not sure what to think of Faina ... is she a ghost? a shapeshifter? truly a precocious wild child?

Anyone else having conflicting thoughts about her?


message 30: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 24 comments I enjoyed that in many ways the environment was at odds with the emotions of the character. Where the harsh Alaskan winters typically bring isolation to the inhabitants, in this case they brought connection and warmth. It was the winters with Faina that healed this couple.


message 31: by Jane (new)

Jane | 11 comments Book Concierge wrote: "I'm about half-way done and can't help but wonder ...
I'm just not sure what to think of Faina ... is she a ghost? a shapeshifter? truly a precocious wild child?

Anyone else having conflicting tho..."


I finished it last night and loved it! I also wondered what she was. I loved that the mystery is always kept up. There's evidence that she is kind of magical, but then there's more grounded information about her as well. Which do we believe? And the book had me guessing and doubting right until the end. I thought it was really well done.


message 32: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments I wonder if she was more or less both real and fictional creation of Mabel and Jack. In the beginning as her character was introduced it seemed like the fairy tale alluded to her as more of a wood nymph, but as the story progressed we get to know her more through Mabel and Jack, as she always comes back. However, the ending is surely quite a surprise, though perhaps I could have guessed it all along.


message 33: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments So while reading another discussion blog, they brought up the topic of the reading group questions at the end of the book, do you think that we will touch those briefly?


message 34: by Portia (last edited Dec 12, 2015 02:55PM) (new)

Portia | 16 comments Well, I just learned that autocorrect thinks Phoeey is "option". OK, Option! This is the second time this week I have found that having the hardcover is not always the best idea. There are no questions at the back of my copy. I hope someone posts them so we can discuss.


message 35: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) Evalani wrote: "So while reading another discussion blog, they brought up the topic of the reading group questions at the end of the book, do you think that we will touch those briefly?"

I have the hardcover first edition - no questions in the back. But feel free to post any of them you think is worth further exploration.


message 36: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) Let's talk a bit about Mabel and Jack, and how their relationship evolves throughout the novel.

Do you see any key events? Any surprises in their reactions to events? Any change in their personal dynamic?


message 37: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments I think that Mabel is definitely a bit bitter about the lost baby that Jack fathered in there early relationship. I think this was a major driving theme throughout the book, and propels the story forward as they have so much longed for a child of there own. The fact that they are growing older and remain childless in a tender spot between them, however we see that they become much closer with the Snow child which they form, or who comes into their lives.
Jacks injury is an event which shapes their lives, because this is when they rely on their neighbors for help and is when Garett comes to stay with them. And when Mabel is forced to Buck up.
I think that Mabel sees the Child Faina as a ethereal girl whom they made themselves out of snow and who came into their lives this way, while Jack is more practical in his views and knows the truth behind what happens with Faina's own real father. So this is definitely a difference in reaction to the events. There are definite changes in there dynamic throughout the book. For example, the coat Mabel is sewing seems a point of contention between them at first. Also they have similar and yet at odds views about Faina. Mabel knowing that she needs a home and Jack knowing that her home is in the Mountains and forests, but these views are intertwined. They become more of the family that they always wanted, and therefor J and M are closer.


message 38: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments What is the significance of the Swan, I'm not sure, i think this is a group discussion topic? Is it a Rake, how would you feel about it if you were spied on catching a Wild swan? Do you think this is in some way connected with the ending?


message 39: by Portia (new)

Portia | 16 comments I like this book very much a few things are bothering me. One is the food supply. If Mabel and Jack don't have enough flour to last them through the winter, how can Mabel have enough to make dough for pies? What is she putting in those pies? If there isn't enough and they may have to kill the chickens, why are they having their neighbors over for dinner?

I'm also not finding the stated temperatures real. I don't have much experience with below zero, but I would think they and the livestock would all be staying in the same enclosure to share what heat and heating is available.

I may be picking nits since this is a fairy tale.


message 40: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 24 comments Portia wrote: "I like this book very much a few things are bothering me. One is the food supply. If Mabel and Jack don't have enough flour to last them through the winter, how can Mabel have enough to make dough ..."

If Mabel continued being able to sell the pies they would have had some money to buy more food items. It would make more sense to use the flour for pies than to save it for the comin months. When the neighbors came to dinner Jack was still considering going to the mines and was looking for his wife to have a connection with someone. He needed to make sure she would be ok while he was gone.

Below zero temps are very common in Alaska. We get below zero in NY. Unless you were stuck without any shelter, there's no reason to shack up with your animals. You keep you home heated with a fire and the barn insulated with hay. Yes, it's cold and the animals will stay close to one another for warmth, but with preparation it's not that big of deal.


message 41: by Portia (last edited Dec 15, 2015 07:10AM) (new)

Portia | 16 comments With preparation, Mabel and Jack would not be where they are and we would have no book to discuss. Sort of like Jack London's To Build a Fire. ;-)


message 42: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Coleman (sjcoleman) | 10 comments Finally got my copy. Finding it slow to start. Does it pick up?


message 43: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 24 comments Portia wrote: "With preparation, Mabel and Jack would not be where they are and we would have no book to discuss. Sort of like Jack London's To Build a Fire. ;-)"

I didn't get the To Build a Fire , survivalist type vibe from this book at all. I think their desperation towards the beginning of the book was far more about their emotional isolation than it was about anything physical. They still had options available but had been avoiding them because of their desire to not connect with others.


message 44: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Brouwer I surprisingly really enjoyed this book. I'm not one for the folk lore type of novel. I think the author did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the original tale while still being able to add her own creativity and originality to it.

I especially enjoyed all of the descriptive language she used to paint these amazing images of the Alaskan wilderness. I really felt I was there and really brought Faina's character.

I'm still not quite sure about this whole Faina has parents thing but then is supposed to be some sort of snow child?? Was she "reborn" after her father died and when Mabel/Jack made the snow girl? I feel like the author adding that Faina had parents may have been an unnecessary detail. She didn't really explore that side of the story and just kind of threw it out there that she had parents. Maybe it's just me but I feel like it conflicts with the mystery of Faina. Especially when the author alludes to Faina being able to control the snow. Was she always able to do this or, honestly I just don't know lol. If anyone has any insight or analysis as to this whole dilemma I would be curious to read your thoughts on it.

Overall, I thought it was an appropriate winter read, very easy to get through and enjoyable. Not sure if I would read it again but I would definitely recommend it to friends/family who like this genre.


message 45: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Brouwer Book Concierge wrote: "I'm about half-way done and can't help but wonder ...
I'm just not sure what to think of Faina ... is she a ghost? a shapeshifter? truly a precocious wild child?

Anyone else having conflicting tho..."


I'm having the same dilemma. If the author didn't throw in anything about her having parents I would have gone with the whole "wild spirit" aspect of Faina but the parents thing makes her a real child which throws me for a loop


message 46: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Brouwer Jennifer wrote: "I enjoyed that in many ways the environment was at odds with the emotions of the character. Where the harsh Alaskan winters typically bring isolation to the inhabitants, in this case they brought c..."

I absolutely LOVE this little piece of analysis. What a great point. I never really thought of it that way but now that I look back I always felt happier when reading about the winter months because most of the joy of that story came during that time.


message 47: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments Some of the topic questions address some of these issues. like Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged from each other at the beginning of the novel, and how are they able to over come that?
What do you think happened to Faina in the end? Who was she? and Much of the sorrow of Jack and Mabel comes from not having a family of there own, and leaving behind extended family when moving to Alaska, how does there sense of family change by the end of the novel? I think these are interesting questions to think about while reading the novel. For me The first chapter or two was tough, much like the Alaskan wilderness, but it made me want to keep reading, and it begins to flow.
I don't think I would have been satisfied with the book had I never known the truth behind what happened with Faina's family? I do know what you mean by "Was she reborn after Mabel and Jack made the snow girl?" I think it is fairy tale weaving together with real life, from this angle she is still a mystery throughout the book. But I think the ending really drives this home, that she was a mystery altogether. From her conception into the lives of Mabel and Jack to her dissapearence. I believe her spirit was both, and eventually she became one with the nature of her spirit.


message 48: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) Evalani wrote: "What do you think happened to Faina in the end? Who was she? ..."

This is definitely a puzzling element to the book. I asked my manicurist today if she remembered the original folk story / fairy tale (she is Russian). She did but not many details.

At one point Mabel recalls the original story that the girl falls in love with a mortal and has to give up her life to marry him. In a sense I expected that to happen to Fiana.

What really puzzled me, though was how she could just leave her infant behind.


message 49: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Brouwer Did anyone else get the impression that faina just melted like how it happened in the folk tale and that's what happened to her in the end?


message 50: by Portia (last edited Dec 20, 2015 09:40AM) (new)

Portia | 16 comments This discussion is reminding me of the story of "The Little Mermaid." If the one she loves rejects her, she becomes sea foam.


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