I haven't read an Anita Shreve book in years before picking this book up to listen to at the library a few days ago. I had such fond memories of reading Fortune's Rocks and The Pilot's Wife that I guess I had expected much more than what I got from this book.
Twelve year old Nicky Dillan and her father Robert Dillan have been living in an isolated house outside the town of Shepherd in New Hampshire for about two years, having moved from New York after her mother and sister were killed in a car accident. A short time before Christmas, Nicky and her father were snowshoeing through the woods near their house when the hear a sound. They go off to investigate and find a baby who has been abandoned there, and so they rescue the baby.
Becoming minor celebrities in town, it isn't too long before the mother of the abandoned baby comes to thank them for rescuing her baby, but before she can leave again, a snow storm sets in and she ends up staying with them for a couple of days. The days from when the baby was found up to the end of the storm are a real catalyst for Nicky and her dad, bringing changes for both of them.
This novel was, I think, meant to be a study of grief, but also about facing the consequences of your actions. On those levels, I guess it worked, although at times it felt a bit superficial.
Once again, I had issues around the perspective of the novel. For reasons we are not told, the story is told by Nicky when she is around 30 years old, but all the events are told in present tense, so there seems to be some confusion about this perspective at some point in the novel. Maybe there was some differentation between timeframes in a written book, but I certainly couldn't tell in the audio book.
Another thing that I really noticed in this book was a lot of the dialogue was followed by "he said", "Robert said", or "she said". For example if Nicky were to say "But Dad..I don't want to go to my room", it would almost always be followed by I said. Of course it was Nicky who said that...who else would call him Dad!. Occasionally there were other descriptors, but it was overwhelmingly noticeable that these were all throughout the story, to the point that it distracted me. To an extent it felt as though the dialogue wasn't sufficiently strong enough to stand alone without the reader being specifically told who was doing the talking..their characters voices were not individual enough within the text let alone before we add a narrator's interpretation.
Snow plays a crucial role in this story, and I have to admit that all the scenes where Shreve was describing the snow, and the conditions through the snow storm felt really real, although having never experienced anything like those conditions I wouldn't know for sure.
Overall, this was an okay read, that had the potential to be really interesting, but just didn't quite make it! Oh well....I could always reread Fortune's Rock if I really wanted!
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