The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was the book club read for June and one of which we had mixed feelings about.
On one hand the author did an excellent job of creating an impressive sense of time and space, depicting the bleak Alaskan landscape elegantly and the loneliness of working and living in such an environment. On the other hand, most of us couldn’t getting to grips with the magical realism element to the story.
Was it fiction, was it a fairy tale – most of us were unsure. Was Faina real? If so, why where her conversations not in speech marks? Why did she appear as this angelic character at first and then turn into a feral type creature? Was she someone that appeared to other people, as well as Jack and Mabel, as a sign to improve lifes? Certainly her gifts and presence enriched their lives and that would explain why she disappeared.
Her relationship with Garrett, also changed his once shallow character, bringing some much needed depth. Her killing of the swan that resulted in her wedding dress made of feathers perhaps was a sign that she intended to cement their relationship as one that would be for life, but it was not to be.
Perhaps it was Faina’s relationship with the fox that served as a metaphor that when man encounters anything of a wild nature, the latter will suffer. Certainly Faina didn’t seem unduly distressed when this happened and what purpose did the fox serve – perhaps a Guardian?
The character of Mabel was one that irritated members; the fact that she seemed so unhappy with the landscape and was tied, perhaps more so by tradition, to the cabin. Certainly the fact that she seemed reluctant to help out on the farm, when Jack was clearly struggling, seemed strange. Who would see her do this in the middle of nowhere, but it seemed to be the reluctance of stepping outside convention that was driving a wedge in their relationship.
Of course the fact they were childless had affected their relationship deeply. The fact that Jack was unable to tell his wife of the sex of their stillborn child and that he had buried the body, spoke volumes of their lack of communication and provided a residue of pent up emotion.
Mabel’s relationship with her sister also proved one where Mabel barely kept in touch, afraid to show that Jack and her had failed in their endeavours. However, it was her relationship with Esther that proved to be the most satisfactory and in turn provided a more secure base for her and Jack to begin to turn their fortunes around on their farm.
All in all, the book provided us with an excellent discussion and we came to the conclusion that it was a marvellous fairy tale and an easy read!