Fiction – paperback; Abacus; 288 pages; 2005.
Twelve-year-old Nicky Dillon and her father are starting life anew in rural New Hampshire following a family tragedy. As both finally settle into familiar patterns and routines, an unexpected “find” one wintry day impinges on the natural order that they have worked so hard to achieve. When they stumble upon a newborn baby girl left abandoned in the woods little do they realise the maelstrom that is about to follow.
In Light On Snow Anita Shreve focuses on her usual themes of love and loss. But she also explores family relationships, the responsibilities we have to one another through thick and thin, the fine line between happiness and despair, and the ties that bind us to people and places. Through the eyes of her female narrator we also get to glimpse the bond between a daughter and her grief-absorbed father, and, in turn, the loss felt by a young girl for her dead mother.
Shreve’s language is always sparse and deceptively simple. But it’s what’s going on between the lines that really hits home. There is plenty of anger, misery, heartache and joy all bound up in just 288 big-print pages. But while it is an emotional book Shreve never resorts to melodrama or sentimentality. Her pitch, her tone, her balanced style is superb.
This is a lovely, heartfelt book. But I would expect nothing less of Shreve who has become one of my firm favourites in recent years.