Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

People either love Anita Shreve, or they hate her. I both love and hate her; how about that? I hated The Last Time They Met and The Weight of Water, and loved Fortune's Rocks and Sea Glass. And consider these: The Pilot's Wife and Eden Close--I loved the beginnings and hated the endings.

Light on Snow was the first Shreve book about which I felt apathetic. It was okay, kind of light on plot: a father and 12-yr-old daughter, grieving from the recent deaths of the family's mother and baby in a car accident, find an abandoned baby in the woods. This baby (and her mother, whom they encounter later) represent what is lost in their lives, and through the action of finding the child and its mother, they begin to heal. It's a nice enough story, but lacking the emotional violence and power of some of Shreve's other books. It's kind of a low-risk Anita Shreve. You won't love or hate it, and it will keep you mildly interested.

Here is a review from the Guardian. I agreed with the reviewer’s observation about the problems with the narrative voice, and the “movie of the week” plot.
(Book 35, 2006)


Maxine Clarke said...

That's an interesting observation about Shreve (love or hate). I became very engrossed in the Pilot's Wife but felt that it became rather melodramatic at the end. Similarly, I enjoyed the writing style of A Wedding in December but did not really like the book or find the "bride" of the title very sympathetic. On the other hand, I loved Light on Snow. I did not like "All He Ever Wanted" (that may not be quite the right title) very much.

I suppose I think she writes very well, I love her style, but sometimes the plot lets her down? Is that a fair comment? I do think she is streets ahead of many contemporary writers, though, as (to me) she has no pretension.

Becky Holmes said...

Maxine, yes I agree with your statement about the plots letting her down. I am always happy to read her writing, but not always happy with her stories. The ending of The Pilot's Wife was a huge disappointment, sinking as it did into melodrama, as you point out. And sometimes I just don't like her characters, as was the case for me in The Weight of Water.

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