Thursday, January 28, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Snowed In

As you might have noticed, a blizzard rolled through much of the east coast last weekend. It hit DC hard, and my muscles are still sore from digging our car out. At least all that snow offered inspiration for this month's Variations on a Theme. Here are some books that take place during snowy times.

Trapped
Michael Northrup

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision.


The Snow Queen
Hans Christen Anderson

When a boy is cursed with an inability to perceive goodness, a young girl must go on a lonely quest to restore his heart and vision and free him from captivity in the palace of the Snow Queen. Few works of children's literature have had as deep and lasting an impact as Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, which has won the hearts of young readers for almost two centuries, and inspired works as diverse as Disney's Frozen and C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Snow Child
Eowyn Ivey


Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone—but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Snow Country

Yasunari Kawabata

Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer’s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan. At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages — a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.

A Cold and Lonely Place
Sara J. Henry

Ice harvesters are preparing for the Winter Carnival at Saranac Lake, NY, when they find a body frozen under the surface. Freelance journalist Troy Chance, who is on the scene taking photos, recognizes the dead man as her roommate’s boyfriend, Tobin Winslow. When the death is quickly assumed to be accidental, Troy disagrees. Convinced Tobin was murdered, Troy sets about meeting with Tobin’s family and friends, hoping to find some insight into this man who turns out to be from a wealthy family. When her editor asks her to write the story of Tobin’s life, it seems like the perfect way to gain information, along with providing the break Troy needs to establish her writing career.

The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her splendid new home is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, and leaves Nella alone with his sister, the fearsome Marin. Nella's life unexpectedly changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie ways. Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers around them. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?

Other Snowy Titles
2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas - Marie-Helene Bertino
Arctic Dreams - Barry Lopez
Cover of Snow - Jenny Milchman
Ice - Linda Howard
The Ice Storm - Rick Moody
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen
The Snow Queen - Michael Cunningham
Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood
White Out - Vella Munn
Winter Stroll - Elin Hilderbrand 

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