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The Snow Queen: A Novel | [Michael Cunningham]

The Snow Queen: A Novel

It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn’t believe in visions - or in God - but he can’t deny what he’s seen. At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett’s older brother, a struggling musician, is trying - and failing - to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill.
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Publisher's Summary

A darkly luminous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours.

Michael Cunningham’s luminous novel begins with a vision. It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn’t believe in visions - or in God - but he can’t deny what he’s seen. At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett’s older brother, a struggling musician, is trying - and failing - to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love.

Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.

Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. In subtle, lucid prose, he demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.

The Snow Queen, beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.

©2014 Mare Vaporum Corp. (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (129 )
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3.6 (113 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Matthew MOSCOW, IDAHO, United States 05-21-14
    Matthew MOSCOW, IDAHO, United States 05-21-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Most boring book I've listened to.."

    The writing was well done, if somewhat pathetic in the attempt to be hip and in the know, but I'm still trying to figure out what the point was. Very boring and extremely disappointing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-11-15
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-11-15 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "COKE OR PEPSI?"

    In "The Snow Queen", Michael Cunningham cleverly riffs on more than choice in an innocent question–Would you like Coke or Pepsi? Cunningham’s story is about human choices, responsibilities, and compulsions. Cunningham’s first chapters flesh out details of three personalities, Tyler’s, Barrett’s, and Liz’s. (Beth is another important character, but more as she relates to the three main characters than as an individual.) Tyler is a musician. Barrett is Tyler’s younger brother. Liz is a kind of caretaker for both Tyler and Barrett, even though Tyler is in his early 40s and Liz is in her early 50s. Barrett, the youngest of the three, is employed by Liz in her clothing store.

    Barrett, in his thirties, takes the first steps toward a mature and stable relationship with a partner that may break the bond with his unconventional and enabling family. Liz, now in her mid-50s, is thinking about taking a vacation in California; possibly with Tyler, but only if he quits drugs. Beth has died from cancer. The storm of snow and ice seems to be lifting for Barrett and Liz at the end of Cunningham’s story. But, Tyler appears to have had his heart pierced by the broken mirror that looks like snow and has turned to ice; i.e. snowy cocaine has turned to heroin. Tyler loses his fiancée, seems on the edge of losing his brother, and finally, his caretaker and ex-secret-lover. Tyler’s choice is Coke; while Barrett’s and Liz’s choice is Pepsi. Cunningham infers Americans are enabling dependence by children on their conventional and unconventional families; i.e. allowing children to remain adolescents for too long.

    Drugs are a curse that distorts reality like broken shards of Hans Christian Anderson’s glass mirror. Religion is an opiate of the masses. Gen Xers are growing up too late in their lives. Winter is a time of dormancy for Gen Xers; spring may be coming, but Cunningham’s story is not reassuring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa 06-28-14
    Teresa 06-28-14
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    "kinda dragged on"
    What would have made The Snow Queen better?

    There was nothing to capture my attention.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Cunningham’s story?

    The story just dragged on and the relationships between the characters was confusing and boring. It made me just feel sad and for the people and there sad choices.


    What didn’t you like about Claire Danes’s performance?

    The reader was good the story was bad


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 06-09-14
    Barbara 06-09-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Couldn't make it all the way through."

    I just didn't care enough about the characters, their interactions, or the plot to force myself through this one. Claire Danes as the reader is wasted on what's just a bad book. I made it 3/4 of the way through and thought, why am I forcing myself to listen to something so unsatisfying? The nice thing about being an adult (and not a student with homework) is that you really DON'T have to finish a book that doesn't warrant the time or attention.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    goodyearbear Goodyear, AZ United States 12-11-14
    goodyearbear Goodyear, AZ United States 12-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Uninteresting"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People that are interested in feckless characters that chat about how terrible and horrible their lives are.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I haven't decided what my next listen will be, but probably something with more interesting characters.


    Have you listened to any of Claire Danes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Love Claire Danes as a narrator. Am going to look for other books she performs.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Snow Queen?

    I'd probably pare down the first four chapters into one.


    Any additional comments?

    After listening to the first hour of this audiobook, I decide that the book couldn't hold my interest. The two brothers seemed like the most miserable and feckless characters, that I really couldn't even form an interest in them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi RIVERSIDE, RI, United States 06-03-14
    Heidi RIVERSIDE, RI, United States 06-03-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Boring Listen"
    What disappointed you about The Snow Queen?

    The story line, and Claire Danes narration wasn't good.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Cunningham again?

    no


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Claire Danes?

    Someone with a better speaking voice


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    not to me


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 06-01-14
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 06-01-14 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

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    "bleh. just average, or worse."

    gah. another so so read. my expectations may have been too high, but i really feel that the author didn't live up to what he was trying to achieve. i think Cunningham writes beautiful sentences. but when you put them together i think sometimes they become overwhelming. the plot of the story is lost in all the beautiful writing.

    i didn't get any references to the Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen), except for the fact that there was snow. i didn't find the conflict worth anything. i didn't find either one of the brother's stories explored enough to get any true sense of either one of them -- and therefor i didn't really feel invested in either of their lives. i felt like i was reading an outline of a larger story that i wasn't privy to. i felt like i was reading the beginning of something great, that just never took off.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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