The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Reagan Arthur Books, New York, 2012
From my library hold list. It is my first book for Once Upon A Time VI.
The story of a couple who leave a comfortable life in Pennsylvania and travel to Alaska to homestead. In the 1920’s this is no easy task and Jack and Mabel struggle to build their life together, all the will filled with the memories of the child they lost. The hard work of survival and their loss has driven a wedge between them and the joy and close feelings they once had for each other has hardened in the struggle.
Woven into this story of struggle and survival is the fairy tale called The Snow Child. One evening, as the first snow falls, Jack and Mabel find themselves outside tossing snowballs and laughing together for the first time in quite a while. They build a snow child, even adding mittens and a scarf. Afterwards, warming in their cabin they feel tender and loving for the first time in ages. In the morning the snow child is gone but leading from the collapsed pile of snow are footprints, and Jack thinks he sees a young child running through the woods.
Jack and Mabel struggle with their thoughts and dreams. Has the desire for a child driven them to madness or is this girl glimpsed running through the woods real?
She had sought reasonable explanations. She asked Esther about children who lived nearby. She urged Jack to inquire in town. But she had also taken note of those first boot prints in the snow – they began at the vanished snow child and ran from there into the woods. No tracks came into the yard. from page 87.
From this beginning the story evolves into one of mystery and what seems like magic. Realistic in its depiction of life in 1920’s Alaska and of the people who settled there, bound by hard work, friendship and love, this is a charming novel told in crystal clear language. The way Ivey weaves together history and fairy tale was for me a new and exciting experience..