In 1920s Alaska, an ageing farmer and his barren wife are struggling to survive the long winter on their farmstead. They are beginning to despair. Then they make a snow girl and encounter a real girl who lives out in the snow. Is she a real child or is she a fairy they have conjured up? And what will happen when their neighbour's son falls in love with her?
This is a weird fairy tale which never quite decides whether reality or magic is in charge. But it comes alive in the three dimensionality of the characters and in their contradictory and mutating responses to the snow child. And it becomes wonderful in the breath-taking descriptions of Alaska: "The sun had slipped behind a mountain, and the light had fallen flat .... the flutter of moth wings on glass ... and the way dawn threw itself across the cow pond." It becomes wonderful in the compassionate treatment of childlessness and in the understanding of the hopes and fears of an ageing man pitted against an unforgiving landscape, uncertain whether he will have the strength, the power and the endurance to survive. Even faced with disaster, the couple bicker because they are too proud to admit defeat or to ask for help; sometimes too proud to be gracious when they cannot avoid being helped. And it reaches perfection in the response of the man who is not a father to the possible dishonouring of the woman who is not a daughter.
A beautiful book. February 2014; 404 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57