The Snow Girl written by Eowyn Ivey is a 2009 book, translated for Einaudi in 2011 by Monica Pareschi, and is the novel that will inaugurate the new year of our reading group.

The author is a “colleague” in fact works in an independent bookstore in Alaska, where she lives with her husband and daughters. The story of the book he wrote takes place right there, in Alaska, in 1920. With this novel she was a finalist for the Pulitzer.

I was almost certain to start the new year having to bring the justification for not having read the proposed book, because I started last night and the reading group will meet on Monday, that is TOMORROW!

To my surprise, I devoured these 409 pages in one day. Thanks to the fever that forced me home? I do not believe.
There are authors who feel offended if you say that their book is devoured and read in one go, because they say it is synonymous with lack of interest, a book that does not remain.
From my point of view, however, if a book manages to keep me glued and not distracted despite all external stimuli, whats app, facebook, notifications of all kinds, favorite TV series, phone calls and whatever else comes to mind, then it has caught in the sign. But you know, we are all different and that’s the beauty of it.

As you know, I am not so inclined to write reviews, however I prefer to tell what is left of the book, letting the words of the author speak.

Mabel knew she would find silence. After all, it was what he wanted. No whimpers or childish little voices. No playful cries from the neighbors’ children on the street. On the wooden stairs worn by the footsteps of generation after generation, no scuffling of feet, no toys banging on the kitchen floor. She would leave behind all the rumors of her failures and regrets, and in their place there would be nothing but silence. […]

A couple, Jack to Mabel decide to move to Alaska, away from everything and everyone. Convinced that the two of them can and will have to suffice. But they are not alone, the pain of the birth of their only child, who died as soon as he came into the world, will never leave them. After all, absences make more and more noise than presences.

They are no longer very young and Alaska puts them to the test. Jack doesn’t forgive himself for not being able to give his wife the comfortable life she deserves and Mabel would like to help her husband who prefers her at home to take care of the hearth. But can there be a warm welcoming hearth, a real family without children?

I really liked the description of a couple who now know each other by heart, the looks, the silences, the habits that repeat themselves. The heartbeat that no longer makes noise as when young, but then a touch is enough, two bodies that know each other by heart.

[…] After all these years, a point of her still throbbed at his touch, and her voice, hoarse and soft, made a shiver run down her spine. Naked, they went to the bedroom. Under the covers, bodies searched for each other, arms legs spines too, until they found the familiar sweet lines, like the wrinkles of an old map that had been folded and folded for years. […]

And then the snow, a constant of the novel, snow that dulls the emotions, snow that amplifies the fears, snow that covers the dangers, snow that sees them complicit in creating together a snowman complete with a scarf and gloves. A snowman who seems to have melted in the morning, but so are the scarf and gloves that the two have put so much love around the neck of that face that seemed so real.
From that moment on strange apparitions, there seems to be a little girl in the woods, a little girl wearing just the scarf and gloves that have disappeared.
But is theirs just a vision?
A wish?
The desire to have that pawing and laughter of children from whom they ran away in one’s life?
How real is it and how much only suggestion?

I do not want to reveal anything else, I would ruin the story, but I am sure that tomorrow there will be conflicting opinions and some heated exchange of views at the discussion of the reading group.
Ah, what can books do?!?
But above all: how difficult is it to recommend the perfect book?
In this case alone, the opinions are opposed.
An example? Here are some messages we exchanged while reading:

– the snow girl is a beautiful book, it touched me deeply.
– magic and reality that get confused immersing us in timeless lives that could be ours
– I didn’t like it at all. I don’t like stories set in the wilderness, they bore me tremendously
– except for the first 150 pages only. Then two exaggerated balls!

And many other comments.
And to think that I spend my days trying to recommend the prefect book for every occasion.
But does the perfect book really exist? There are so many variables that it becomes really difficult.
And you? Is there a book that you read because a friend recommended it to you, but that disappointed your expectations?

As for me, The Snow Girl is a book that I would recommend, indeed, I remove the conditional … it is a book that I recommend.


Eowyn Ivey