Reader's Comments
The Snow Child By Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child

By Eowyn Ivey

PBR Book Review:

This is a heartfelt story that's sad, bittersweet and somewhat magical. It's loosely based on a Russian fairy tale about a childless couple that build a girl made of snow - who comes to life. In this story, which takes place in the 1920s, Mable and Jack are childless and move to Alaska as homesteaders to start a new life and escape their pain. They too build a snow child. Whether she comes to life or not is a constant question throughout most of the book. The author does an amazing job of conveying Mabel and Jack's longing for a child and the loneliness they feel. She also conveys the beauty and the isolation of frontier Alaska - its harsh winters and what it takes to survive in this wilderness. In summary - Although a bit long causing the story to stall somewhat in the middle portion of the book, it's beautifully written with strong characters. A story of raw emotion, love and sacrifice. Recommend for those that enjoy a literary read.

Book Club Talking Points:

The book is original and part fairy tale part , part harsh Alaskan reality. Many themes run through this book - the challenges of being a homesteader in early Alaska, dealing with being older and childless, the importance of friendship, ageing, the peaks and valleys of marriage and the highs and lows of being a parent. The book is beautifully written but beware - the pace is slow. Recommend for book clubs that enjoy a literary read.

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*Other Books by Same Author: Debut novel for this author

*Discussion Questions

1. When Mabel first arrives in Alaska, it seems a bleak and lonely place to her. Does her sense of the land change over time? If so, how?

2. Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged from each other in the beginning of the novel, and how are they able to overcome that?

3. How do Esther Benson and Mabel differ in temperament, and how does their friendship change Mabel?

4. The first time Garrett sees Faina in person is when he spies her killing a wild swan. What is the significance of this scene?

5. In what ways does Faina represent the Alaska wilderness?

6. Jack and Mabel's only child is stillborn. How does this affect Mabel's relationship with Faina?

7. When Jack is injured, Esther and Garret move to their farm to help them. How does this alter Jack and Mabel's relationship?

8. Much of Jack and Mabel's sorrow comes from not having a family of their own, and yet they leave their extended family behind to move to Alaska. By the end of the novel, has their sense of family changed? Who would they consider a part of their family?

9. Death comes in many forms in The Snow Child, including Mabel giving birth to a stillborn infant, Jack shooting a moose, Faina slaying a swan, the fox killing a wild bird, Jack and Mabel slaughtering their chickens, and Garrett shooting the fox. Why is this one of the themes of the book and what is the author trying to say about death?

10. What do you believe happened to Faina in the end? Who was she?

Book Summary
Reagan Arthur Books - February 1, 2012 - 400 pages ISBN:0316175676
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

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