The Snow Child
A chilling story of love and a very pleasurable read!
This a romance in the sense that it is an emotional story, well written, linear in development and plot line, a thoroughly enjoyable read, particularly for someone who loves children and parenthood.
Jack and Mabel, a mature couple who have lost a child at birth and who cannot have another, move to Alaska in the 1920’s, maybe as a catharsis for their devastating loss. The childless couple is struggling in their relationship as he tries to cope with the oppressive burden of Alaskan homesteading and farming while she is trying to deal with despair and loneliness resulting from her child loss.
One time, as a momentary escape, Jack and Mabel build a snowchild with mitts and straw hair. The next morning the snowstatue is gone but they catch the glimpse of a young girl at the edge of the forest, gliding away over the snow.
Eventually they befriend Faina, the snowchild who visits them as if she is a real young girl. They treat her and love her as if she were their daughter.
The story progresses with descriptions of their life, their neighbours, the challenges and the struggles in living and farming in Alaska. However, there is an added layer, the snowchild Faina, who irregularly visits with Jack and Mabel throughout the winter, eating dinners with them but asking that the door to the outside cold be left open.
With the arrival of spring, Faina disappears completely to the deep chagrin and despair of Jack and Mabel. Jack’s hope of seeing Faina begins to waver, but Mabel is steadfastly confident Faina will be back and she returns, the next winter.
The neighbours, George and Esther have serious misgivings about Jack and Mabel’s sanity explaining that cabin fever leads to many unexplainable phenomena. Garrett is George and Esther’s son, a teen who spends the summer helping Jack work his farm. Garrett is a trapper by dedication and a normal teen; Faina is a teenaged beauty; Alaska in its rugged and natural beauty is the setting. The story unfolds with suspense, intrigue, excitement and surprises.
This is a very good read
For a first time novel, this story is beautifully written. The descriptions are complex and elaborative. The plot detours and diversions are suspenseful and captivating. Readers will often resist the urge to skim over lines to get to the next scene because the writing is so good. The beauty and the difficulties in living in the Alaskan wilderness are captivatingly described. Even more magnetic is the unfolding tale relating to Faina, the snowchild.
I like Ivey’s style of writing. It is straightforward, very detailed and descriptive. She is able to build suspense and anxiety in the reader with her descriptions of who Faina lives out in the wilderness of an Alaskan winter. It is intriguing to see Faina survive on her very own out in the Alaskan winter, especially amazing as she seems to be a wisp of a young girl. Yet she fishes, traps, skins animals like an old veteran of wilderness life. She even brings gifts of woven baskets with berries and flowers for Mabel.
The story has some surprising twists but for the most post it is quite predictable but pleasurably so, warming the reader emotionally as it unfolds the many scenes in the life of the couple and their relationship with both, Faina, the snowchild and Garrett, the neighbours young son.
Ivey’s story is one of heartfelt emotion, conscience confirming fulfilment of responsibilities and destiny’s dealing of life cards which the reader hopes will be dealt deservedly.
Though the novel may be a bit longer than it should be, were I the writer, I would not want to end the story either because it grows more emotionally satisfying with each page. But end it she must and the ending, though it suits the story, it may not be completely satisfying to those romantics who long for a happy ending.
A very recommendable read.