Friday, April 6, 2012

A Fairy Tale Comes to Life

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This novel is based on a Russian folk story of the same name. In this tale a barren couple builds a child made of snow and the next day a little girl, who eerily resembles the one they made, appears out of nowhere. Ivey moves this tale to rural Alaska in the 1920s- a place both beautiful and dangerous.

Trying to escape the lingering grief of their stillborn child and the rift this has caused in their marriage, Jack and Mabel, a couple in their 50s, relocate there from Pennsylvania and attempt to start life anew. Unfortunately they are ill prepared to survive farming in this wild land and the isolation wears on them. Despite living in a tiny cabin they feel more apart from each other than ever.

Then comes the first snowfall of the year and the fairy tale seems to come true. Slowly the little skittish girl, who appeared where once a snow figure was built, starts to trust the couple. Her name is Faina and she unbelievably seems to survive on her own in the vast wilderness with only a fox as a companion. Faina, as well as a new found friendship with a neighboring family, begins to transform the life of the couple. But mysteries abound - Why does Faina disappear each Spring? Why doesn't snow melt on her skin? Why has no one else seen her?

Alaska comes alive with in this tale of loss and hope; isolation and belonging; humankind and nature. It is a haunting, evocative story told elegantly and it stayed with me long after I finished reading it.




No comments: