Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

First-time author Eowyn Ivey blends historical fiction with a Russian fairytale in this remarkable and unusual novel. A childless couple in their 50s decide to homestead in Alaska in the early 20th century. The harsh winters and the backbreaking work on the farm are almost too much for Jack and Mabel, but their love proves resilient. Their lives are much improved when a little girl shows up out of the wilderness.

"The girl's hair was white-blond, but when Mabel studied it, she saw that woven and twisted among the strands were gray-green lichens, wild yellow grasses, and curled bits of birch bark. It was strange and lovely, like a wild bird's nest."

Could she actually be the child they made from snow the previous night? Will she stay on with them when winter ends?

Ivey's evocation of homestead life reminded me of Willa Cather's My Antonia, but with an added element of magic realism. Readalikes that have both realism and a fairytale quality include: The Old Country (Mordicai Gerstein); The Book of Everything (Guus Kuijer); The Pull of the Ocean (Jean-Claude Mourlevat); Jackdaw Summer (also called Raven Summer - David Almond); Impossible (Nancy Werlin); and The Ghost's Child (Sonya Harnett). I think adults who like The Snow Child will enjoy any of these, even though they happen to be aimed at a younger audience.


Shawna Lemay said...

I'm going to have to look for this one. Thanks, Lindy!

Lindy said...

You're welcome. Let me know what you think after you read it, okay?