Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
The Snow Child Refreshes Us on a Hot Summer Day
The Snow Child
First order of business when we met to discuss The Snow Child, by Eouwyn Ivey, was for Priscilla to tell us about the name "Eouwyn." The author was named after a J.R.R. Tolkein Lord of the Rings character. Without researching, I'm guessing that this is an Elfin name, which I think is important to our discussion because the author's Faina character seems so Elfin in so many ways. The author grew up in Alaska and still lives there. She has some photos of Alaska posted on her blog. Oddly, there are no photos of the dead of winter, when footprints disappear under blizzards as soon as steps are taken.
The Snow Child was a deceptive mixture of straightforward-reading story and inexplicable fantasy. We uncovered both aspects in our discussion. First we talked about why Mabel and Jack moved to Alaska to farm as middle-aged adults who had never been to Alaska. Patty noted that it was Mabel's idea because she was unhappy among all her friends and relatives at home who had children, because she had lost a baby and not gotten over it. Dennis said that at the time when the book took place, there was probably a lot of publicity encouraging people to move to Alaska, some of which probably painted a prettier picture of Alaskan life than reality could offer. We talked about Mabel's changing moods and her rising to the occasion when Jack was injured and needed her help in the fields.
Patty told us that she had visited Alaska on her travels in the spring, and she noticed that there were no pharmacies or doctors in cities smaller than Juneau. So, we could think of Alaska as being a lot like the way it was in the story. Visiting Alaska during the summer months and not needing a pharmacy or doctor is nice to think about...
Then we got into the main question of the story: Did Faina exist or was she a figment of Mabel's imagination? Patty said she was unsure throughout the beginning of the book as to whether Faina was real. Dennis noticed that there were no quotation marks in the book when Faina talked! Marsha suggested that Mabel created Faina. Dennis reminded us about Jack burying Faina's father, which added to the argument for realism. Dennis then presented the term "Magical Realism," and this began to be a theme of our discussion. Janice thought the author meant Faina to be more than just Mabel's imagination but a magical character. Patty remembered that Mabel said something like, "You have to believe in miracles." The first episode with Faina came up, where there were tracks leading away from the snow child that Mabel and Jack had built but no other tracks in the snow. Pam joked that Faina was heavier after putting on the scarf and gloves than she had been when arriving at the snow child, and that was why she had become heavy enough to leave tracks. Carla's opinion was that part of the charm of the story was that the reader could draw their own conclusion as to whether to think of Faina as real or magical or imagined.
We had more ideas and references to the story concerning whether Faina was meant to be considered real by the reader. Put to a vote, most of us said we had at some point in the book gone with the idea of Faina as a real child. This book gave all of us a delightful story, and our conversation brought out so many aspects of the story and angles about the ephemeral Faina that I doubt many of us thought of all of them while reading. This discussion was one of those magical ones that add to the pleasure of reading the book and make you glad you braved the sunshine to sit in the air-conditioned cafe with good company and coffee and cookies!