In my second post for my #ChristmasReads series, I am featuring a book that I thoroughly loved and enjoyed: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows, and let’s go through this book!
The plot of the story goes like this: Mabel and Jack are a slightly elderly childless couple living in Alaska, who manage a homestead for their living. Jack is aging, and the hardwork of managing a homestead is taking its toll on him. Helpless and isolated from their neighbours, they struggle through the harsh winters. But lo and behold! One wintry snowy day, forgetting their aches and pains and enjoying the day like children, they build a snowman, or to put it precisely, a snow child.
The next morning however, they wake up to see that their snow child is almost destroyed. The mittens and scarf they had lovingly placed on her have disappeared. Dismissing this to the presence of wolves and foxes in the Alaskan forests, they continue their routine lives. Till, Mabel and Jack spot a young girl, wearing the same mittens and scarf that they had lovingly placed on the snow child.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods and lives in the Alaskan wilderness. Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a Russian fairy tale. But then, they come to love her as their own daughter.
Their neighbours, Esther and George, seem worried about Mabel and Jack’s mental health when they hear them talk about this ‘young girl who lives in the woods and has a fox as a pet’. How can Mabel and Jack convince Esther and George about Faina’s presence? Or does it affect their relationship?
Moreover, how does Faina impact the lives of everyone in that Alaskan wilderness, and is has she indeed come from a fairy tale world?
What I liked about this book is its aesthetic. Yes, books have an aesthetic too. When the words don’t seem to be merely black and white text, but transport you to an actual place where the only voice you can hear distinctly is the voice of the characters, spinning a tale for you; that’s when a book has an aesthetic.
The aesthetic of this book is that makes you feel that you’re living in a wood cabin in Alaska, eating cold biscuits with blueberry jam and dining on moose meat and bread. It didn’t help that I mostly read this book late at night in a wintry weather. (Okay, I know it’s Mumbai, not Alaska, but it’s hella cold here too!) The whole book felt like it was written in snow: soft, precious words with an intimate connection directly to the reader’s heart. This book is an example of the few books which are not only books, but also experiences.
The characters of Mabel, Jack, Esther, George, Garrett are perfectly defined, and it’s pretty easy to feel like you’re absolutely at home with them. No worries about anything, just you, the Alaskan mountains and wonderful company to share the view with. And of course, the mystery of Faina to puzzle about.
I would certainly recommend this book to every lover of literary fiction, because this is one book that will make your heart sing. The sheer delight of the book, and the way you will read every page with rapt attention, is mind-blowing.
A certain 5/5 star read!