This magic realism novel (389 pages) was published in November of 2012 by Back Bay Books. The book takes you to 1920s Alaska. David read The Snow Child and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.
Alaska, 1920 is not a welcoming place. It’s brutally cold and bleak. Beautiful, yes, but challenging and dangerous. But that might make it exactly the right place for Jack and Mabel to strike out for a new life.
Jack and Mabel’s marriage is crumbling under the strain of despair. Unable to have the child they crave, heartsick, and breaking under the weight of their Pennsylvania farm, they head to a homestead in Alaska, ready for a new life. In a rare moment of playfulness, they build a child of snow in their yard during the season’s first snowfall. The next morning, the snow child is gone. But they catch a fleeting glimpse of a little girl moving amongst the trees.
With a red fox always at her side, the child appears and disappears, beguiling Mabel and Jack, who come to love her as their own daughter. As they try to understand who this child is and what her relationship to the snow might be, they learn more about themselves and each other — and, along the way, find they have become Alaskans.
Author Eowyn Ivey grew up in the northern wilderness of Alaska. Her evocative prose makes characters of the seasons, especially winter, the allure and danger of which looms over almost every scene. As you read, your shoulders will hunch against the cold, and you’ll smell the pine of the trees, the fug of the lichen, the freshness of the water.
This story was inspired by a Russian folk tale and a touch of magic shimmers over the narrative, as the story of the snow child — otherworldy, elusive — plays out against the perils of survival in Alaska.
As the glow of the cabin windows turned to flickers through the trees and then to black, her eyes adjusted and the starlight alone on the pure white snow was enough to light her way. The cold scorched her cheeks and her lungs, but she was warm in her fox hat and wool. An owl swooped through the spruce boughs, a slow-flying shadow, but she was not frightened. She felt old and strong, like the mountains and the river. She would find her way home. — Eowyn Ivey
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.