The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh MY goodness what a wondrous magical, frosted, haunting journey this book took me on!
The first friends I made were Mabel and her husband Jack, eking out a living in the harsh wilderness of a 1920s Alaska, struggling to run an isolated homestead. Still grieving for the stillborn child she bore many years ago, I could easily relate to Mabels loneliness and inability to accept that in late middle age the solace of a child is as unlikely as the prospect of a winter without snow in this brutal unforgiving wilderness.
When she and Jack throw their usual serious matures to the wind and spend an evening frolicking in the snow ending up making not a snowman but a snow child, moulding the freezing crystals into the form of a little girl child.
When the following day dawns and the snowchild is mysteriously missing and they glimpse a child darting in and out of the trees wearing the red miitens they had placed on the snow creature its hard for Mabel to decide whether the child is a real girl who has playfully knocked down their sculpted model and taken the mittens - or something far more mystical and mythical - could she be a snow child like the fairy tales mention?
Although the book is about their developing relationship with this wild little girl, its also about how they adapt to life in this chillingly bleak and utterly stunning landscape. How they overcome disasters and mishaps and make unlikely friendships.
The other friend I made was Esther and her family, neighbouring homesteaders, an unlikely friend for Mabel yet to become best of friends two people as different as chalk and cheese thrown together with only their situations in common - I loved Esther she is larger than life and twice as loud and just so lovely I wanted to hug her.
The setting and style of this charming and delightful book reminded me very much of two of my other favourite books The Outlander and The Tenderness of Wolves
I'd love to read more books set in this harsh environment, yet doubt many can be as magical and poignant as this lovely, lovely book.
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