I’ve been suffering from snow envy this week. The Twin Cities just got snow, and Swarthmore just got snow, but there is a sad dearth of it here in southern California.
I love snow. The way it glitters under the cold winter sun. The way it settles on evergreen boughs and caps fence posts and frosts every leafless branch with white. The serpentine way it blows across a frozen pond. I love the blueness of snowy evenings and the way falling snow makes the world quiet.
Sparkers is set in wintertime, and there are a few lovely snowfalls in it. I was musing the other day about the books I think of when I think of snow. I mean books that are made richly atmospheric by snow, books in which snow is almost a character. Here are the three that came to mind:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: I know, I know, the snow represents the power of the White Witch over Narnia (“always winter and never Christmas” and all that), but I love it when Lucy pushes her way through the fur coats in the wardrobe and finds herself in a snowy wood at night. And Pauline Baynes’ illustrations of the Lantern Waste in the snow and of Lucy and Mr. Tumnus traipsing through the snow-bedecked trees are a bonus.
Snow by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely: I’m a big Orhan Pamuk fan, and this is my favorite of his novels (it was also my introduction to Pamuk, in 12th grade World Literature). Against a backdrop of ever-falling snow, the melancholy poet Ka frequents a sheikh, boys from the religious high school, a theatre troupe, and a radical in hiding, all as a coup unfolds in the snowed-in city of Kars. (Also: this book always reminds me of the time I stealthily followed Orhan Pamuk across Harvard Yard…)
The Snowstorm by Beryl Netherclift: This was one of my mother’s old Weekly Reader books, and it completely captured my imagination when I was a kid. Three English children sent to stay with their Great-aunt Amethyst in an old house called Farthingales. A snowstorm (that is, a snow globe) that bends time. Secret passageways and lost family treasures. And then, when a real snowstorm hits and Aunt Amethyst fails to return from her errand to town, the children find themselves snowed in alone… This book is why the name Faraday will always have a mysterious, enchanting quality to me; why I know of the poet John Drinkwater (“At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows…”); and how I first heard of Bovril and Ovaltine.
What are your favorite snow books?
Thank you so much for this list! I read The Snowstorm when I was little and have the reaction to the name Faraday. I just came across it again and was trying to remember the book (I kept thinking Snow Globe)- now I can find the book and pass it to my niece!
Glad I could be helpful! It is a wonderful book.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe definitely is up there at the top. The second book that comes to mind is Dan Brown’s Deception Point. I also think snow is beautiful, but when I try to connect it to books (or other entertainment media, not including Christmas movies) it tends to evoke solitude and danger, like blizzards and supervillains with power over ice.
I haven’t read Deception Point. I was actually thinking about the danger piece when I wrote this, though, and the fact that I still love snow even though I know it has a dark side. Of the three books I mentioned, I think The Snowstorm is the one in which snow is as dangerous as it is beautiful, yet it still makes me feel warm and fuzzy about snow. On the other hand, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, which has tons of snow in it, does not make me feel warm and fuzzy about snow.