Currently Reading: The Snow Child
An older couple starting over. A Scandinavian fairy tale. A brutal, unforgiving landscape.
All these components come together to make one beautifully written novel.
Jack and Mabel have left the comforts of their home in Pennsylvania to try and restart their lives in Alaska in the 1920's. Drifting apart and childless, the story opens with Mabel's thoughts of suicide. Everything changes for them on the night of the season's first snow when they play outside like children and build a snowman, or rather, a snowgirl. They decorate her with a scarf and mittens, carving a face in the snow, reddening the lips with berry juice. The next morning the snowchild is gone, but soon a real child appears to take her place.
Late in life and essentially alone in the wilderness, Jack and Mabel become surrogate parents to this wild girl, who slowly lets them get to know her. She leaves every night, heading back into the woods and mountains. And when spring comes around, she disappears for the season. Mabel holds out hope for her return, and sure enough, at the next snow, the child appears.
Ivey's novel is well-written, touching, and poignant. It deals with loneliness, longing, heartbreak, and true love. Beautiful, uplifting, and not completely where you might expect the story to go, I highly recommend you give this one a read.