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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child book cover The Snow Child takes place in Alaska in 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.From

Book Club Party Ideas for The Snow Child

Decoration ideas for a book club party for The Snow Child include fluffy white snow and snow-laden trees to represent the Alaskan wilderness.  A red scarf and red mittens which were worn by the snow child can be draped across the table.   Faina would bring homemade gifts made with things she found in nature to Jack and Mable, so I included snowflakes made out of twigs.   Another great decoration idea is to include a red fox, Faina’s companion.

Snow Child book cover, red mittens, scarf, snowy trees

Book Club Menu for The Snow Child

“Esther pulled a small glass bottle from the back pocket of her men’s work pants and set it on the table. ‘Cranberry Cordial.  Positively heavenly'” (page 253).  This Cranberry Cordial Recipe is flavored with orange zest.  It is supposed to be strained before serving, but I just loved the look of the cranberries in the glass.

cranberries, vodka, orange zest

“The cranberries were tiny red rubies against the white snow, and Mabel’s eyes searched them out…She planned to make a savory relish with the cranberries, Esther’s onions, and spices” (page 142).   A great way to serve this relish is over cream cheese, as Annie did with her Cranberry Relish Recipe.


Some interesting dishes mentioned in The Snow Child include the following:

  • Fried moose heart with onions, mashed potatoes, carrots, bread and onion relish (pg 75)
  • Lynx and dumplings (page 252)
  • Black bear roast (271)
  • Fire-grilled salmon, potato salad, and extravagant white cake with white frosting and candied rose petals and elderflower wine (page 356)
  • Fried wild mushrooms and smoked salmon for breakfast (page 350)

Mabel was well-known in her little area of Alaska for her delicious pies. For Thanksgiving with her neighbors and new friends, Mabel made a walnut pie and dried-apple pie.  I combined these two types of pies to make a Dried Apple Pie with Walnut Topping.

dried apples, walnut crumb topping

Book Club Resources for The Snow Child

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 3.97 stars (12,115 ratings)
Amazon: 4.4 stars (330 ratings)
LibraryThing: 4.07 stars (62 ratings)
My Rating: 4.25 stars.  You can just feel how broken Jack and Mabel are and Alaska truly comes to life in this novel.  The ending, however, left me scratching my head.

Purchase The Snow Child at your favorite bookseller

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Discussion Questions for The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey


  1. When Mabel first arrives in Alaska, it seems a bleak and lonely place to her. Does her sense of the land change over time? If so, how?
  2. Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged from each other in the beginning of the novel, and how are they able to overcome that?
  3. How do Esther Benson and Mabel differ in temperament, and how does their friendship change Mabel?
  4. The first time Garrett sees Faina in person is when he spies her killing a wild swan. What is the significance of this scene?
  5. In what ways does Faina represent the Alaska wilderness?
  6. Jack and Mabel’s only child is stillborn. How does this affect Mabel’s relationship with Faina?
  7. When Jack is injured, Esther and Garret move to their farm to help them. How does this alter Jack and Mabel’s relationship?
  8. Much of Jack and Mabel’s sorrow comes from not having a family of their own, and yet they leave their extended family behind to move to Alaska. By the end of the novel, has their sense of family changed? Who would they consider a part of their family?
  9. Death comes in many forms in The Snow Child, including Mabel giving birth to a stillborn infant, Jack shooting a moose, Faina slaying a swan, the fox killing a wild bird, Jack and Mabel slaughtering their chickens, and Garrett shooting the fox. Why is this one of the themes of the book and what is the author trying to say about death?
  10. What do you believe happened to Faina in the end? Who was she?

The Author

Author The Snow Child Eowyn LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She received her BA in journalism and minor in creative writing through the honors program at Western Washington University, studied creative nonfiction at the University of Alaska Anchorage graduate program, and worked for nearly 10 years as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. This is her first novel.The Snow Child is informed by Eowyn’s life in Alaska.  As a family, they harvest salmon and wild berries, keep a vegetable garden, turkeys and chickens, and they hunt caribou, moose, and bear for meat. Because they don’t have a well and live outside any public water system, they haul water each week for their holding tank and gather rainwater for their animals and garden. Their primary source of home heat is a woodstove, and they harvest and cut their own wood.

Works That Influenced Eowyn Ivey’s Writing

Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party forThe Snow Child? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.

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Share your thoughts. We love your comments!

  1. I love your blog! So much work to put together recipes and books, and over the years I’ve stolen a few recipes. Mmm. The cranberry cordial sounds so good.

    The Snow Child is on my shelf now.

    Comment by Kat on December 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  2. Thank you!

    Comment by Lisa on January 1, 2013 at 7:36 am

  3. Hi, just wanted to say, I loved this blog post. It was practical. Keep on posting!

    Comment by on June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

  4. My Book Club read”The Snow Child” last month & was very touched by this imaginative story & Eowyn Ivey’s beautiful writing! We learned so much about Alaska & enjoyed reviewing the questions in the back of the book as well.
    ****We were all so curious about the meaning of the”Swan” & what it symbolized. Faina’s killing of the swan, when she was first spotted & her adding the feathers from the swan to her wedding dress. Could you elaborate. Thank you, Karen

    Comment by Karen Ecker on October 20, 2015 at 12:41 pm

  5. That is a good question and we have not figured that out. If you come up with some ideas, please let us know!

    Comment by Lisa on October 20, 2015 at 4:34 pm

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