Sunday, 31 March 2013

Duck Egg Book Club - The Snow Child

The Snow Child

The Duck Egg Book Club - Book Review: Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child is set in the 1920’s, and tells the story of Jack and Mabel, an childless, older couple who have risked everything and moved to a remote homestead in Alaska. The couple have moved to such a remote part of the world to try and get a fresh start following the stillbirth of their child. Mabel is clearly very haunted by the death of her baby and it has placed their marriage under considerable strain. At the start of the novel they are barely on speaking terms.

One night, a heavy blizzard starts and, in an attempt to rekindle the fun times of their courtship, Mabel persuades Jack to build a snowgirl with her.

Shortly after this a young girl appears on the edge of their homestead, Faina. Mabel is convinced it is their snow girl come to life as in a Russian fairytale her father used to read to her ‘Little Daughter of the Snow’.

One of the more interesting things about is this story is that you are never really sure whether Faina is in fact the snow girl come to life. At certain points you feel sure that she can’t be but then in the next moment your certainty begins to waver. I felt as though Ivey really kept the reader guessing right until the end.

Eowyn Ivey’s description of Alaska is beautifully haunting. I could really understand that it was such a desolate wasteland but such a stunning backdrop at the same time. Purely based on her descriptions I have added Alaska to my long long list of places I really want to visit. It was perfectly chosen for this part-fairytale, part-reality story.

The thing that frustrated me the most about this otherwise lovely tale was the ending. At several points during the story Mabel talks about how her life seems to be interlinked with the fairytale but then suggests that everyone can write their own ending, which hints that perhaps the story will not end in the same way. There is a twist, which makes a difference, I won’t tell you here as I think that would spoil it but essentially, Faina does disappear from their lives at the end. I felt quite disappointed by this ending and had hoped for more.

All in all however I think this is beautifully written and very enjoyable.

Review by the wonderful Duck Egg Book Club Editor, Jessica McGlynn.

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