Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Tis the Season

It's that time of year again, when the classic holiday special, Frosty the Snowman, is appearing on television screens everywhere.  The idea behind that story, in case you have somehow missed the point, is that children build a snowman who then comes to life.  The snowman wants to be just like the other kids, but finds that he can't do some things without putting his snowy body at risk of melting away.  In The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, the reader learns that the story of Frosty is actually based on a Russian or Eastern European fairy tale, which has several different variants, all of which involve a childless couple building a snowman that comes to life, but also comes to a tragic end. 

In The Snow Child, Jack and Mabel are just such a couple.  They moved to Alaska in the 1920s, and are trying to create a life for themselves in the wilderness.  Although they are living together with no nearby neighbors, they are also living apart, with each of them keeping secrets from the other.  Their existence is very lonely, with not even each other to confide in or depend upon for help.  One night, in a bout of uncharacteristic playfulness, they build a snow girl together.  They dress her in a scarf and gloves, and think nothing of it when they go to bed.  But the next morning, the snow girl is gone, along with the gloves and scarf. 

Soon thereafter, Jack and Mabel separately catch glimpses of a child in the woods, who appears to be wearing the scarf, and who also seems to be all alone.  Each of them questions whether they are really seeing what they think they are, as it seems so unlikely that a child would be near their home in the middle of winter.  Eventually, they learn that the child is a girl named Faina, but they still don't know why she is in the woods that surround their cabin. 

Throughout the story, Jack and Mabel wonder if Faina could possibly be the snowman that they made, brought to life.  Each finds reasons to believe that Faina is just a normal child living on her own in the woods, but still they wonder.  Because of the lack of communication in their relationship, they don't share their ideas or the facts that they have uncovered in support of those ideas with each other.  Wherever Faina is from, they want her to stay.  Mabel keeps her mind on the fairy tale, but comes to believe that for some stories, a person can write their own ending.

This is The Typical Book Group's pick for December, so I'll talk more about it next week when we meet.

Next up on CD:  Cleopatra:  A Life  by Stacy Schiff.  I'm not so sure about listening to a biography on audio book, but we'll see how it goes!

Still Reading:  Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...