Debut novelist Eowyn ivey’s experience living in the Alaskan wilderness brings a palpable authenticity to The Snow Child. Alaska in the 1920s is a difficult place for Jack and Mabel. Drifting apart, the childless couple discover Faina, a young girl living alone in the wilderness. Soon, Jack and Mabel come to love Faina as their own. But when they learn a surprising truth about the girl, their lives change in profound ways.
©2012 Eowyn Ivey (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
I’ve always loved fairy tale adaptations (Jane Yolen, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrede) and The Snow Child is among the best, perhaps in a class by itself. The Snow Child is a retelling of a Russian fairy tale set in the wild and isolated Alaskan frontier in the 1920s. Ivey stunningly describes the land, the snow and the extreme hardships of trying to make a life there. Mabel and Jack have settled in Alaska to try and escape the sadness and grief of their life in Pennsylvania. One night they create a child out of snow, and the next morning ethereal child Faina enters their lives. Is she an orphan fending for herself in the forest or the creation of Mabel and Jack? I had a little trouble at this point, constantly wondering, "Is she real?" but I eventually stopped questioning and just enjoyed the story.
For me, this book was mainly about parenthood (biologic or not), with all its multiple joys and heartbreaks. Particularly poignant is Mabel's intense longing for a child, with her heavy and heartbreaking feelings and actions. Mabel's and Jack's recognition of their motherhood and fatherhood, the mistakes they may have made and experiences they may have missed in truly becoming parents are also beautifully written. There are some achingly wonderful and sad moments when Jack in particular sees Faina as the person she truly is and no longer the image of a child he has held in his mind. This book is magical, realistic, harsh, beautiful and well worth listening to.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is an extraordinary work of art and is a major contribution to the literature of the American West.
Its description and visual imagery of the natural world of Alaska is the equal of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Its portrayal of the marriage tensions of Jack and Mabel is the equal of Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose. Lively Esther is the equal to the strong western woman in an Ivan Doig novel.
Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It ends with "I am haunted by waters."
I am haunted by The Snow Child.
And I am haunted by Faina's voice as performed by Debra Monk.
English major. Love to read
Maybe it's because I needed to just fall into a book that the premise of this book appealed to me. And fall into it I did. It is magical, well-written and lyrical. I am not one to give a plot summary - if you choose this, you will find out soon enough. But I will tell you that you probably won't enjoy this book if you can't let yourself be taken away by some elements of fairy tale. The plot is not completely improbable, it just stretches you to let go of the realism of your own life and step into another place and not judge how you got there. A truly wonderful winter read.
I fell under the spell of this book within the first few sentences. The author creates a magical setting in the Alaskan wilderness where the northern lights, snow-covered meadows, frozen rivers and wild animals seem perfect and beautiful. When you live with Jake and Mabel, you live in this land, and you get to know it as they do -- living fully within it and accepting its harshness as well as its beauty. In this setting, a child who seems to come to life from snow seems almost logical -- and although Jack and Mabel wonder about Faina, they come to accept her as their own, just as they accept the rest of Alaska's mysteries.
I loved the gentle tone of the narrator, and loved the beautiful, magical story. This one will stay with me for a long time.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
To me, the book that comes closest in mood and tone to this one is "The Orchardist". I suspect that readers who enjoyed that book will enjoy this one, and those who did not, will not enjoy it. In both books, the sense of time and the land is beautifully evoked through the eloquently descriptive writing. Successfully conveying the space, the cold and the isolation of the vast landscape allows understanding of the fear, awe and ultimately commitment to the land that the main characters, Mabel and Jack, experience. For them, the sorrow of an earlier loss has left them lonely and distanced from each other. But the mysterious appearance of a child who they need as much as she needs them, opens up their hearts and teaches them how to live again, another theme similar to "The Orchardist". The mystery of the girl - is she real or not - adds a touch of magic for the reader as it does for Mabel and Jack. That said, I would advise readers hoping that this is a magical fairy tale to think twice before downloading. As in "The Orchardist", the story is told with little sentimentality. The life and death struggle of surviving in the Alaskan wilderness through trapping and hunting, freezing and starving, makes it clear that this is an unforgiving life for the unprepared. Detailed discussions of animals being hunted are included and are not for those tender hearted towards the animals.
Some readers are dissatisfied with the ending, but I was ok with it. I don't see any other way it could have ended, and found it consistent with what came before. The supporting characters are somewhat shallowly written, but overall I did not find it a major distraction.
I listened to this book for my book club and because I didn't have time to sit and read the book. I don't think that I would have been able to finish the book if I were just reading the book. The narrator did an excellent job of bringing the characters to life and so I was anxious to keep listening.
I think a lot of women will be able to relate to Mabel and her inability to have children. Jack and Mabel obviously love one another, but both struggle with their inability to have children.
I love the neighbors. They brought so much life into the story.
I think my favorite scene was when Mabel started working in the garden after Jack was injured. I think she grew into herself while working in the garden along side Garrett.
Yes, I could definitely see this book being made into a movie. I'm not sure who the stars should be.
This was my first audible book and I really enjoyed it. Debra Monk did a fantastic job narrating, her voice fit the story perfectly. The story was very well written and Eowyn Ivey's description of Alaska is amazing. I live in Soldotna, Alaska and every description of the seasons and the landscape really made me appreciate where I live. I thought it was a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone.
Esther- she was so light hearted and really warmed the story up.
Esther- Monk did a great job of bringing her personality to life.
I looked forward to listening every morning and I truly did enjoy it.
I thought this was a sweet love story and a beautiful book. The author paints the Alaskan wilderness with the fluidity of a poet. Te narration took a bit to get used to but once I was into the book I thought she captured the essence of the characters perfectly! Great selection.
Tell us about yourself! I'm a teacher who loves cycling and plugging into a book for 10 or more hours on long bike rides.
This challenging world is written about with a gifted ease.
The return of the snow child after summer.
The meeting between the young mountain girl and her future husband.
When she became sick and disappeared in the night I ached.
The truth of this harsh world is easily portrayed by the writer and expressed through the lives of real characters. "Easy" is hard to do and wonderful to experience. I count this as one of my favorite listens.
I really loved this book. It is what I would call' magical realism.' It was beautifully written and in addition, Debra Monk did a stellar job of narrating it. I felt like I was right there in Alaska with the two families.
While the ending was not as uplifting as I hoped, I think it was the logical way for the author to go and it did not disappoint me at all. I felt satisfied after I was done. I would definitely read another book either written by Eowyn Ivey or narrated by Debra Monk.
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