Saturday, 2 June 2012
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The beauty of this book was all in the magical setting. I enjoyed the story and characters, but what I will remember is Ivey's wonderful descriptions of the Alaskan winter; blizzards that shake the houses, crystallised snow flakes and crunchy walks across freshly fallen snow. I love to be transported to a different place by a story and The Snow Child definitely met this criteria. It captures the magic of winter perfectly.
I wasn't surprised to learn that The Snow Child was based on an old Russian fairytale, Snegurochka (the snow maiden) and felt that it was strongest when including these fairy tale elements. The sections describing Faina as a young child in the few winters after Mabel and Jack made the snow girl, were by far and away my favourites. I liked the suggestions that Faina might dissolve in the heat, that she had befriended a wild fox, that she had unnatural affinity with the woods. I so wanted this to be a proper, old-fashioned fairytale.
And whilst Ivey does keep parts of Faina's character deliberately obtuse so you can decide for yourself what she was, I felt as though the book really lost steam once Faina started to grow up and interact with more of the people living near Mabel and Jack. The magic started to wear off and the book became about human relationships and human issues. Although the ending of the book was interesting, the magic had long since worn off for me. I think The Snow Child would have worked much better as a novella involving only the first half or so of the book. I know lots of people have adored this book but it just didn't quite work for me.
First Published: February 2012
Score: 3.5 out of 5
1. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachnaik - This is a very different story, being a historical fiction novel of Catherine the Great of Russia, but like The Snow Child it contains wonderful descriptions of a winter setting - perfect for armchair travelling.
2. Arabian Nights by Richard Burton - I've added this purely because The Snow Child was in part a fairy tale and Arabian Nights are my favourite tales.
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Sounds interesting. Would love to learn more about Alaska winter....:DReplyDelete
I'm sure the winter is absolutely miserable to live through but on paper it sounds so magical...Delete
I absolutely loved her writing and that carried me through as I found it did start to get a bit slow in the middle but I didn't mind it becoming more real.ReplyDelete
I agree Ellie, the writing was lovely. As this was a debut novel, I'm sure that her writing will only improve in future, leading to some wonderful books.Delete
I completely agree. About 2/3 of the way in it I began to lose interest and wanted it to end - though it is beautifully written.ReplyDelete
I felt the same - when is it going to end? I have high hopes for the author in the future though.Delete
I thought the descriptions were beautiful and the magical elements were lovely, but I did feel it could have been a little shorter, and though I enjoyed it a lot, it was 4 out of 5 for me.ReplyDelete
This would have been a lovely book to encounter in an audio format, I think, for it would allow you to even more completely dissolve into the story. When you say that eventually the truth is revealed, I know what you mean exactly, but what I really love about that part of things is that nothing is really truly concretely defined, so that we are reminded, as readers, of the power of imagination and will and love and all those good things, even though there are also explanations there for those readers who prefer a more tightly wrapped package. I enjoyed revisiting the novel through your review: such a pleasure!ReplyDelete
Arnel Sweizz (Seattle Divorce Attorney)