The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

 Jack and Mabel are homesteaders out in Alaska who are failing to make a go of their small farm. It's cold and getting colder, their marriage is cold and getting colder and on so many levels they are losing each other.
The day the first snow falls, the two of them go outside and make a snow girl, with scarf and hat. Jack shapes its face, they stroke and kiss it and go inside.
In the morning the scarf and hat are gone, and so is the snow girl. Footsteps lead away from the spot where she was built but none lead to, and the mystery begins. When later on they see a girl in the woods, hiding, creeping close but staying away from shyness or caution, they don't know what to think.Is it their snow girl brought to life, or a lost child?

The story unfolds, with their relationship with each other and the people around them growing in importance as it goes on. Mabel sees a link between their life and a Russian fairy story of a snow child who comes to an elderly childless couple, with unhappy results. I can't tell you how it ends, but  I was engrossed, eager to find out what is happening, who the girl is, what she is and what may be the result. I love the way the main characters alter and adapt to the landscape, Mabel loses her East coast chic and Jack learns to trust his wife as a capable woman. The friendships in the book are intriguing and the whole style is gentle, mesmeric, sometimes in a reported speech way that distances the reader at the same time as allowing one to see more than a narrative told from one view point could.
The Snow Child is an enchanting novel.
We chose this book for our February Bookclub and there was a general positive response to it. If you like magical realism then the book will suit you. I loved it, and the life it depicts in Alaska. I really enjoyed the overlap between the story and the Russian tale. Quite touchingly beautiful.  Have you read it? What did you think?


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