RSS

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

29 Nov

snow_child_eowyn_iveyAlaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Two things have put me off reading this book since Claire’s review over at Word By Word inspired me to pick it up.  Firstly it’s a bestseller which I rarely find satisfying and it was also part of the Richard and Judy Book Club, made apparent by the sticker on the front.

Despite all that I picked it up, peeled off the sticker as well and have finally and belatedly gotten around to enjoying some suitably seasoned sustenance.

The Snow Child is one of those books that captured me from the very first page and as a result I took the time to savour the words and atmosphere.  I eventually spent a good three weeks doing so as I enjoyed it so much.

The tale itself is no rush to be to told, based as it is, on a Russian fairy tale, it does have that timeless quality that such stories have.  The blending of the traditional folk tale with the harsh realism of life is well-balanced; the isolation, the weather and the ambiguities that run through the book, the longing, the loss and the happiness make the book a real treat for this time of year especially as the weather closes in.

What impresses me most is that the book held my attention for all of its 400 pages even though there isn’t a lot to it, once the characters have been explored and the uncertainties laid out, the story keeps moving hurriedly towards its conclusion, yet I still enjoyed it despite this.  Perhaps it was the mirroring of the traditional tales that hark back to childhood and through time that held sway over me.

Despite the lack of depth, the themes that this simple story focus upon are done really well and left open enough for contemplation about relationships, life and nature providing both good and bad but needing to be experienced. It shows the power of community of love and of the unexpected, whilst retaining an air of the intangible.

Love and devotion, the devastating hope and fear contained in a woman’s swelling womb – these were left unspoken.

Interestingly (and this is only the mildest of mild spoilers), the Snow Child herself is given no speech marks when she speaks but unlike other books where it is just plain lazy to leave them out, it is more a delicate signpost to question what it is you are actually reading about and so for this reason won’t complain like I usually would do.

For a début novel this is a strong effort and it’s easy to see why it appeals to so many people, it isn’t a book that ‘changed my life’ as people are fond of saying but it is a story I found satisfying and will keep on my shelf to reread in a future winter.  This would make a good Christmas present – or treat for yourself – as well, if you happen to be on the look out for one.

Advertisements
 
37 Comments

Posted by on 29/11/2014 in Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , ,

37 responses to “The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

  1. Calum Bell

    29/11/2014 at 14:14

    Looks like a good read, Keep up the good work!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      29/11/2014 at 14:20

      Why thank you, it is better than the average Richard and Judy choice, which I admit is not difficult and no doubt I will catch at the Bold Forester at some point in the coming month.

      Like

       
  2. shadowoperator

    29/11/2014 at 14:29

    What always amazes me about you is the wide variety of categories and genres that you read and manage to enjoy. This sounds like yet another reward for your patience and willingness to explore.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      29/11/2014 at 14:35

      Life would be boring were I only to stay in a few genres, I like to treat it like I do with anything, if it is put to me in an interesting way I will want to explore, that’s all I ask for. It’s nice to find a book of mass popularity that I actually like, such a thing happens rarely. In a while I will be picking a new book from the shelves and I have no idea what I am in the mood for but I am excited to find out.

      Like

       
      • shadowoperator

        29/11/2014 at 21:19

        Well, I don’t know if you have this one or not, but I picked up a copy for Christmas for my nephew of Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” or “the Ocean of Stories,” I can’t recall the exact title (more fool me). I was just looking at it last night, and it’s perfectly charming, and not in a bad way!

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          30/11/2014 at 19:01

          I have heard of that one, I can’t recall where just now though. It is on my list and I look forward to comparing notes at some point in the future.

          Like

           
  3. heavenali

    29/11/2014 at 16:07

    I loved this too. Richard and Judy stickers are enough to put me off too. I read it when it was just out in hardback and so didn’t yet carry the offending stickers. Your review reminds me how much I enjoyed it. I will read it again one day I’m sure.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:03

      It is one of those stories that won’t ever diminish despite the amount of times read. I’ll pencil in my next reading of it for twenty years time. I don’t see why bookshops need to stick those stickers on, a stand with the book club logo on would suffice and not ruin the cover, which is a pet hate of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  4. leapingtracks

    29/11/2014 at 17:29

    Many thanks for this interesting review. I have had this book for ages a bit like you but have not pushed myself to start it – your post has certainly much moved it higher on the ‘must read’ pile! 😄

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:08

      It is a good time to start it to help combat the Christmas stress. It is a bit of peace at this mad time so yes well worth a read, especially with the threat of snow that always seems to be looming somewhere.

      Like

       
      • leapingtracks

        15/12/2014 at 21:47

        Hi Ste, just wanted to pop back to this post to let you know I have finished The Snow Child and really enjoyed it – thanks so much again for the recommendation. I would not have gone back to it without your enthusiastic review, and I am so glad I have done so. What a beauty.

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          17/12/2014 at 16:09

          Excellent, I am glad that you liked it, I always worry people won’t love or loathe a book as me but it is nice to see that I can get it right sometimes. Thanks for letting me know, this has made my day and renewed my confidence in my review writings.

          Like

           
  5. Al

    29/11/2014 at 17:52

    Like you, if I see something from Richard and … I want to call her something derogatory after her comment about someone’s rape being non-violent, but it is not my blog so I won’t. But if I see a book suggested by those, I won’t read it. It is, to me, bound to be something that nobody would really want to spend their money on. However, I did say the same of love story books, but I thoroughly enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera and Pride & Prejudice. So maybe … just maybe …

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      30/11/2014 at 19:30

      I think the pair of them hold some questionable views, I always wonder why people would say such inflammatory things when they know how the public will react. I think the books they seem to rate aren’t particularly that impressive but they do get it right the odd time. I am with you on Love in the Time, in fact any books with ‘feelings’ in, I used to avoid but when you come across such magnificence as said book and P&P, it opens up a whole new world of literary delights.

      Like

       
  6. Letizia

    29/11/2014 at 21:23

    I know how much the Richard and Judy bookclub puts you off, especially any stickers on the cover, so the fact that you enjoyed the book regardless (love that you peeled the sticker off, of course) is recommendation in itself. The summary initially put me off, but your description of the narrative form and reading process is quite intriguing. May just add this to the list I send to Santa.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:18

      I went through a phase of picking up books, dismissing them because of the sticker then wiping my hands on my top after putting the books back lol, I have to peel off the sticker in case the person at the checkout judges me. I read way too much into the little things in life. It’s one of those books that is less impressive technically, although I enjoyed her style but is more effective at making the reader enjoy the experience and that is always a good thing. I aim to make that list longer still so now I have promised I will have to make good on my promises.

      Like

       
      • Letizia

        01/12/2014 at 20:07

        Wiping your hands afterwards, so funny!

        Like

         
  7. gargoylebruce

    29/11/2014 at 22:36

    Sounds like a good one. I love that oft-quipped quip: This book changed my life! What exactly about your life is changed, I want to ask. How is your behaviour different from before and can you relate it directly to your reading experience as a causal factor?

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      30/11/2014 at 19:08

      It is a strange phrase, there is another one that was on the TV trailer for the Mockingjay film, somebody was quoted as calling it ‘the film of our times’. What does that even mean? I mean it’s hardly going to be a ground breaking, profound or even clever movie so I am at a loss really to explain either statement.

      Like

       
      • gargoylebruce

        30/11/2014 at 23:05

        The film of our times indeed. Pfft. Those marketing types really have no shame.

        Like

         
  8. writersideup

    30/11/2014 at 00:07

    Ste J, this actually sounds lovely and compelling 🙂 I’m glad you gave in and that when you did, you ultimately enjoyed it. And, of course, I think it’s only people who need a particular aspect of their life to change in a revelatory way, that it may happen if the message of a book is doled out effectively. I wish I had time to read it!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:14

      I found this a book that was easy to dip in and out of, well I didn’t have much choice but to do that but if you are short of time it didn’t effect my enjoyment of it. I still don’t buy the whole life changing thing from a book, maybe i am just a cynic because books haven’t changed my life, unless you count encouraging me to read more books.

      Like

       
  9. Jilanne Hoffmann

    30/11/2014 at 18:59

    Not everything needs to be a page-turner, eh? There is still room for a bit of inner exploration. I am encouraged to hear this.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      30/11/2014 at 19:20

      Page turners are overrated in my view, something with a bit of depth that makes you think is always more rewarding in the end and stands up better to rereads as well of course.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  10. Tom Gething

    30/11/2014 at 20:09

    I’d never heard of this book until now. I wonder if it’s as popular here in the States as in Britain. Thanks for the review.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:10

      I don’t recall seeing much of it in the States but then again that was ages after it was released so it may have been popular before hand. I suspect that had it been such a big hit in America, we would have had a film of it by now.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  11. angela

    01/12/2014 at 01:40

    We are kindred spirits for anything that becomes uber pop at the library causes me to pause — and that sticker is akin to the Oprah one (ugh!). This has gone past my nose several times at the circ desk and was intrigued, but not enough as many book clubs have selected. Your fine review has me intrigued so will seek it out, give it a thumb through… love wintery folktales ~

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      01/12/2014 at 15:21

      The popularity of a book, or indeed anything does lead me to question how valid the response is but I did like this one. it amazes me how r and J and Oprah can read so many books that they happen to like, you never hear them saying they didn’t enjoy a book either. Does that mean they are easily pleased which is not a good thing if I am to put my trust in them or are they incredibly lucky? I’ll stick to trusting my fellow bloggers and their fine reviews methinks.

      Like

       
  12. Sherri

    02/12/2014 at 12:29

    Interesting this Ste I feel the same way when books are labelled in this way, at first put off, but now that I’ve read your review, it definitely sounds like a really great read. Perfect to go with your falling snow too…which I have just figured out how to operate 🙂

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      03/12/2014 at 18:10

      I find it a shame that there are so many white WP themes out there, the snow adds something a little more special to blogs and I hope everybody manages to get a little colour in their blogs so they can enjoy it. I was really jealous when I saw it that first Christmas (well not the FIRST Christmas, that would have been crazy!).

      I hate that tacky feeling of covers from some of these stickers, it sullies them for me. If you do buy this book, remember to peel off the offending stickers first so you appear more classy to the to the cashier. That is my tip of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Sherri

        04/12/2014 at 11:46

        Haha…I was jealous too, and now, every time I go on my blog I see the falling snow I feel all proud and happy. Silly isn’t it? And I’ll remember your great tip next time I visit the bookshop. You know, talking of which, I thought of you because during my visit to Lewes earlier in the year, I came across a book shop that you would adore. I’m going to try and post the photo in this comment, hopefully it will show up. Consider it an early Christmas present. Here goes:

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          07/12/2014 at 07:54

          What an absolutely awesome photo, I can only speculate on the treasures inside. I wish I would have go you a gift now, I was going to attempt a photo of my thumb but couldn’t decide which one looked better under mood lighting, so gave up. It is nice that I am synonymous with books in your mind, I think next year I will be back to being more devoted to them than I have been this year but enough about then, it is still this year yet!

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Sherri

            08/12/2014 at 12:16

            So glad you like the pic, knew you would. Haha…I must say, I’ve never received a photo of someone’s thumb before…did you consider putting a red ribbon around it? The mind boggles… 😀

            Like

             
  13. Aquileana

    02/12/2014 at 18:01

    Great review Ste!… Captivating and intriguing, indeed.
    Thank you very much for sharing…
    Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      03/12/2014 at 18:15

      Always a pleasure to share books with other eager bibliophiles.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  14. anna amundsen

    07/12/2014 at 18:46

    I love books with strong accent on nature. I’ll put it on my list right away!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      07/12/2014 at 18:59

      Excellent, it is vividly done, the descriptions are great, perhaps not as poetic as you would wish for but that perhaps mirrors the educational level the players in the book would have had.

      Like

       

Tell me stuff...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: