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review 2019-09-19 21:15
There Was Once A Girl Made of Snow...
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Wow. I don't have much to say except that I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I have never read a book by Eowyn Ivey before and will definitely seek out more works. This book really made me want to crawl out into the woods under a starry sky in the middle of winter and just take a deep breath and let it just roll over me. I thought the character development of Jack and Mabel really worked. Also loved how Ivey dealt with the character of Faina as well. We also get another point of view eventually with a boy that Jack and Mabel watch grow up and start to see as a son. I thought the setting really worked and the ending was definitely bittersweet. 


"The Snow Child" centers around a middle-aged couple named Jack and Mable. Ten years earlier they lost a baby and almost lost each other. They eventually moved from Pennsylvania to Alaska. The story takes place in the 1920s and you have Ivey showcasing an Alaska that is wild and also harsh. After making a snow child in the woods one night outside their cabin, Jack and then Mable see a young girl in the woods. And Mabel wonders if they made this child that seems to thrive in snow and cold. The book shows Mabel and Jack both dealing with loving and worrying over this young girl who they eventually find out is named Faina. And we follow them through the years as she grows up and they grow up along with their neighbors who they start to see as family as well. 


Mabel and Jack have your hearts right away. You wonder what could have a couple this old out in the Alaskan wilderness, but you find out. They are on the verge of losing each other until Jack meets the Benson family who end up bringing a spark back to them and their marriage. When they eventually come across Faina you have them both thinking of the child they have lost and getting another one in a strange way. Ivey leads you to find out the beginnings of Faina, but you are constantly wondering if she is a child/young woman or something else. 


I thought that Ivey played very nicely with the magical realism aspects of this book. Things are subtle here and there and sometimes more overt. I liked it and thought that it fit the mood of the book very well. The flow of the book worked and we end up getting three parts to this book with Jack and Mabel first meeting Faina then 6 years passing, and then eventually years after that as well. 


The setting of Alaska during the winter months made me long for hot chocolate and fire. However, you get to see the beauty in the snow and the air and everything that comes alive during the winter. Same when the story moves to spring and summer. 

The epilogue was great and you are left with a great sense of family and belonging in the end. 


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text 2019-09-16 21:07
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

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review 2019-02-23 17:41
Beautifully written novel about historic fiction.
To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel - Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey, author, John Glouchevitch, Christine Lakin, Kiff Vandenheuvel narrators

This novel is historic fiction based loosely on the real explorer, Henry T. Allen, who was tasked with exploring a portion of the wilderness in Alaska, which had previously been attempted unsuccessfully, in the past. His success opened Alaska’s resources to the world. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

When Josh Sloan, the curator of the Alpine Historical Museum, in Alpine Alaska, is asked to review the legacy of Walter Forrester, descendant of the fictional explorer, Cpl. Allen Forrester, he is not sure he will be able to take to the task. However, after reviewing and deciphering the diaries, journals and other records he was provided with, that are so pertinent to his own life, he and Walter become fast friends through their correspondence. The effort enriches both of them, although they are from two different worlds.

The story reveals itself largely through the letters and journals of Cpl. Allen Forrester and his intelligent and independent wife, Sophie, during the time that they are separated while he is engaged in the effort to explore the Wolverine Valley in Alaska. As he follows the Wolverine River, his expedition is faced with natural climate events, indigenous Indians and mythical creatures which traumatize them and also challenge their survival skills and safety. The expedition is fraught with danger.

The book reveals much of the history and exploration of Alaska and its original inhabitants. The expedition encouraged the future of the American expansionist movement into Alaska, illustrated the historic piece of Russian history in Alaska, the missionary effort, the extreme climate and difficult terrain, the natural resources and the natural environment which challenged the men, but also provided them with great beauty and contemplation.

The themes of myth and legend, birds as omens, Indian tribes that are both cannibal and altruistic, ghosts and spirits, anthropomorphic creatures, and superstition are woven neatly into the dialogue as they were in the author’s previous book, “The Snow Child”. The prose is equally as good in both books, almost poetic in nature. The language is clean and the descriptions pitch perfect using a vocabulary that paints pictures in the minds of the reader. The characters are well developed and most are very likeable and interesting.

Of course, there is also an undercurrent of progressivism, as there is in many books today. There are a couple of big reveals. Josh, the man in charge of the museum, who corresponds with Walt, is gay and lives with his partner. This part of the book takes place in the early part of the 21st century. Also, America is revealed as the tormentor of the indigenous Indians, in the past, and as the thief of their lands and way of life, the cause of the diseases which decimated them and the cause of the destruction of their way of life because when they moved the Indians to reservations, they sapped their culture and their very existence.

It compares the ideas that existed in the late 19th century to the atmosphere that exists today concerning how people live, how they view the land and what they take from it, the treatment of women than and now, how indigenous peoples are viewed, how the LGBTQ community is treated, how nature continues to serve us in different ways. The story is about relationships then and now. The letter writing is particularly beautiful with poetic descriptions and language that invites the readers in and asks them to stay awhile and enjoy. It is a lost art. 

Both the beauty and danger of Alaska is beautifully portrayed. Climate, shelter and food are immediate concerns at all times. The overlay of magical realism captivates the reader and enhances the novel as it is seamlessly meshed into the story. The multiple narrators do a superb job of interpreting the characters and we appreciate their struggles as the tone and timber of the readers are pitch perfect for each event and character described.


This epistolary novel, based on historic events, travels back and forth between Sophie and Alan’s journals and diaries, and parallels the letters of Josh and Walt in a different century. The two stories, the one that takes place more heavily in the late 1899’s and the one taking place in the early 2000’s, complement each other, as the expectations of both men and women, then and now, is illuminated.



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review 2018-11-01 23:12
Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a story about Jack and Mabel, an elderly couple who is childless living in the Alaskan wilderness.

This story was good, and the writing style was good. The characters were fairly written. What I didn't care for was the lack of quotations during certain conversations. I know why the author chose this, but I feel these conversations would have benefited from the use of italics rather than the lack of quotations. Other than that, I felt this to be a good and emotional story.

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review 2018-01-30 23:47
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel - Eowyn Ivey

Look! It’s another book by Eowyn Ivey! OMG, yay! I just could not wait for this book to come out. Loved, loved, loved The Snow Child so much! 

To the Bright Edge of the World unfolds through the eyes of Joshua Sloan. As an exhibits curator at the Alpine Historical Museum in Alaska, he has been corresponding with Walter Forrester who has journals, letters and artifacts from his great-uncle Allen Forrester’s 1885 expedition across Alaska. As Joshua reads through the materials Walter shares with him, a great story in the tradition of Lewis and Clark unfolds.

Lieutenant Allen Forrester is chosen by the U.S. government to lead a reconnaissance team into Alaska and travel up the Wolverine River. His job is to map the territory, document the weather and record information about the native tribes. In addition, they are to ascertain how a military force would gain access to the region if the necessity were to arise. The last white men to attempt the Wolverine River territory were the Russians, who were killed by the Indians. Forrester is deemed the perfect man for the job as he won a medal when he led his regiment in a conflict with the Apache Indians. 

Forrester is a bit reluctant to accept the offer though. He is newly married to Sophie and they are expecting their first child. His wife Sophie also does not relish the prospect of being without her husband for a long period and having the baby arrive while he is gone. Nevertheless, duty calls and Forrester does accept the mission. Between his diary and letters to and from Sophie we learn of the hardships that Forrester and his party faced on the journey through Alaska. They faced severe weather, harsh landscape, low food stores and encounters with the natives. The mystical beliefs of the natives are woven throughout the tale but with Forrester being a no-nonsense sort of man, he doesn’t buy into their superstitious ways. Meanwhile, at home Sophie is worried about her pregnancy and she also takes up an interesting new hobby. 

What comes to mind when reviewing this book is that history shows us over and over that men were always exploring other countries, and oftentimes looking to conquer them. But why is it that these men always thought their way was the right way? Throughout the world, men came along and forced themselves upon an already existing culture and immediately start trying to change the things that didn’t conform to their beliefs. It’s been done time and time again. The native cultures’ belief systems often offered up new and magical ways to look at the world. Sadly enough, very little of that remains in modern times. 

I was somewhat surprised at the subject matter of this book when compared to The Snow Child. But when I think about it, it seems that Ivey is just giving us another glimpse of the home that she loves. This book is set 35 years later and is yet another portrait of the beauty and wildness of Alaska. While it’s not exactly the book I anticipated when I looked forward to Eowyn Ivey’s next book so eagerly, Ivey is such a magical writer and this is a very interesting foray into the early history of Alaska. I love Ivey’s style of writing! She manages to weave a tale that is based on a real-life military expedition and sprinkle magic touches in along the way! It’s not often that you see such a mixture and this author manages to leave you with a lovely picture of the world she is writing about. Read this book, it’s definitely worth your time! 

I want to thank the publisher (Little, Brown and Company) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

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