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The Snow Child

The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart.  In a moment of levity they build a child out of snow.  The next morning the snow child is gone - but Mabel glimpses a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness.  As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter.  But in this beautiful, violent place, things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

In general, the group enjoyed reading this novel which most felt was an interesting juxtaposition between this story and the original fairy tale.  Despite the feeling that one needed to suspend belief that the child could survive in such a landscape, the novel held a charm that the group succumbed to in what was considered an easy read that held our interest to the end.  One member, however, did feel that the novel was too far fetched but still expressed enjoyment in reading it.

We felt that there was a certain predictability to the book although there was quite a discussion about the ending.  This centred on whether Faina had disappeared or had actually died - there is still uncertainty within the group about this!

We also talked about the parallel between the main male character in this and the last novel.  The two men concerned were complex characters with evident strengths and weaknesses but both had a fierce loyalty to their wife, this trait adding considerably to the storylines.

The group agreed that the descriptions of the scenery were beautiful and were a real draw of the book.  We also thought that it showed quite accurately that moving locations does not provide an escape from your inner feelings.

In conclusion we decided that we would recommend this novel to others with the advice that you would need to suspend belief somewhat to fully enjoy the book.

Review by Janine Tibbles