Sunday, 13 October 2013

Book Review: The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Synopsis - November 1920.  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 two 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?

Review - This story is based or perhaps I should say inspired by a Russian fairytale Snegurochka and 'Little Daughter of the Snow' from Arthur Ransome's Old Russian Tales.  Eowyn Ivey also acknowledges The Snow Child as retold by Freya Littledale and Russian Lacquer, Legends and Fairy Tales by Lucy Maxym as having influenced her writing.

We have a middle aged couple Mabel and Jack struggling to make a go of it in Alaska.  Jack suffers with his back and Mabel learns that the pies she has been lovingly baking for Betty at the hotel restaurant are no longer required.  To make ends meet Jack talks to George Benson about working at the mine.  The Benson's open hospitality towards Jack and Mabel makes the beginning of a strong and useful friendship.

The Snow Child is a beautifully told story about hope, love, loss and hardship.  It is an inspiring story and in this materialistic day and age, reminds the reader of the simple things in life.  This book is suitable for young and old and well worth reading.  4*

ISBN 978-0-7553-8052-7

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