The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is another of the those debut novels who can cause a writer to bow their heads and weep. It is quite simply a beautiful read.
A tale of frontier life – not the frontier of the 1800s but the turn of the 1900s set in the magnificent but demanding wilderness of Alaska. A couple almost torn apart by their own personal tragedy decide the wilderness might enable them to survive their storm. But Mabel and Jack find the bone wrenching exhaustion and isolation of this unforgiving environment threatens to finish their relationship completely.
A rare moment of fun in the snow, building a snowman ( of course, it is a girl not a man that Jack carves from the snow) changes their life, their expectations and their relationships. Soon after the incident a child begins to appear near their home .Jack and Mabel have differing opinions as to who or what the child is and where she comes from. We are also left in doubt, so well does Eowyn Ivey conceal the truth, allow hints to appear, are we reading fantasy, magic or realisim?
The Snow Child is a tale as insubstantial as the morning frost, but the reader is swept away by the beauty of the descriptions of the, sometimes terrible yet glorious, wilderness. Among the dreadful isolation and loneliness there is hope and happiness. We watch and cheer on the insignificantly small people as they struggle to cope with this harshest of nature’s places, their struggles to retain love and purpose. It is not just Jack and Mabel who have to find ways to survive.
Eowyn Ivey is able to portray with great descriptive writing not only mankind’s struggle but the nature of this wild place. This is a story of survival,the essential nature of neighbours in a place of such desperate living, friendship,and love with some death and disaster thrown in.
A great read.
I am claiming this book for my new author challenge and my Telling Tales challenge. If this story isn’t inspired by fairy tale and myth I don’t know what would be.