Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?
There was a lot of buzz about this book when it first came out. It was one of the Waterstone’s 11, and everybody seemed to be reading it. It was on my wishlist for a long time but I didn’t buy it until it was on offer as part of the 12 Days of Kindle.
I had a bit of an up and down relationship with this book. It started very slowly and early on I did consider giving up (I need to work out a rule for when I can give up on a kindle book). I was interested in Mabel particularly which is part of what made me continue. Having no children was so hard on her that she was prepared to move to a rather inhospitable part of the world just to escape the pain.
In a way I sympathised with Mabel but sometimes I just wanted to tell her to stop being so stupid. Her thoughts and decisions were so emotion based that she didn’t seem to even realise where they might lead her, and when they were just absurd.
Once the child entered the story I started to enjoy it however. I think part of it as knowing how much Mabel wanted it, and despite my annoyance with Mabel I did want her to be happy.
The imagery of Alaska was rather good too. I liked the contrasts between the harshness and the beauty of the environment.
The end for me was rather abrupt. I think it could have ended better earlier or needed to be extended a little more for a more satisfying conclusion.
As for the parallels with the fairy story. It was nice in a way but it was also part of what made me annoyed at Mabel.
Hardback- Large Print (£20.78)
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