Set in Alaska in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark and lonely place to be. Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years ago and the pain never leaves her. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder and foreboding. Is she what she seems and can they find room in their hearts for her?
This book is a truly wonderful read simultaneously filled with harshness and magic. There is an enchanting fairytale quality to the whole book and as I read I wondered what was real and what was imaginary. In fact, throughout the book we can see that the story was based on a Russian fairytale and the prose runs parallel with this story.
The vivid description of the landscape was spellbinding. The bleakness of the Alaskan terrain was so convincingly portrayed that I was not surprised to learn that Ms. Ivey grew up and lives there still. She has done an amazing job of soaking up the atmosphere in which she lives and encapsulating it within the pages of this book.
There is also a wonderful simplicity in this book as the author describes the hardships of the characters making their lives there. Jack and Mabel are excellent characters and are described with both sensitivity and realism.
This sensitive and delicate work deals with the theme of love and more specifically, that love can be found in the most unexpected of places. I found this a very moving read; one that I found myself seeking out time alone to read this as I wanted to savour it and not rush through or to be distracted.
Above all, it is the magical quality contained within its prose that sets this book apart and which should ensure that this book is a bestseller for many years to come. For a debut novel, this is a stunning piece of work and Ms. Ivey is definitely one to watch. I would encourage you all to read this as it is an enchantingly beautiful book to read and one I feel sure I will re-read in the future.
ISBN: 978 0755380534
Publisher: Tinder Press
Price (based on today's price on Amazon.co.uk): £3.85
About the Author:
The Snow Child is informed by Eowyn’s life in Alaska. Her husband is a fishery biologist with the state of Alaska. While they both work outside of the home, they are also raising their daughters in the rural, largely subsistence lifestyle in which they were both raised. As a family, they harvest salmon and wild berries, keep a vegetable garden, turkey and chickens, and they hunt caribou, moose and bear for meat. Because they don’t have a well and live outside any public water system, they haul water each week for their holding tank and gather rainwater for their animals and garden. Their primary source of home heat is a woodstove and they harvest and cut their own wood. Every penny Eowyn makes from the novel is a contribution to her well.