I was intrigued by this book after learning that galleys would be available at BEA and ALA-impressive for a first novel that's not a slash-and-dash thriller. Then I chatted with the publicist, who reported that Ivey's work is why we all in our various ways go into this book business. In 1920s Alaska, newcomers Jack and Mabel struggle against despair, finally building a snow child to distract themselves. The next morning, their creation is gone, but they spot a blonde-haired girl running in the forest and soon come to regard her as the daughter they never had. A fairy tale with an edge.
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.