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Light on Snow Paperback – September 12, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An after-school stroll leads to a life-altering event for widower Robert Dillon and his 12-year-old daughter, Nicky, in this delicate new novel by acclaimed author Shreve (All He Ever Wanted,etc.). In the woods surrounding their secluded home in Shepherd, N.H., Robert and Nicky make a startling discovery—a baby abandoned and left to die in the snow. The infant survives, but the incident leaves its mark. Still recovering from the painful loss of her mother and infant sister two years earlier, and readjusting to the shock of a sudden move from suburban Westchester to rural Shepherd, Nicky struggles to reconcile her innocent notions of adult integrity with the bleak reality of their discovery. The tenuous sense of normalcy Robert manages to sustain is broken with the appearance of Charlotte, the baby's young mother, on his doorstep. Retold 18 years later by an adult Nicky but written in the present tense, the story shifts brilliantly between childlike visions of a simple world and the growing realization of its cruel ambiguities. Aside from a few saccharine moments and a rather pat ending, Shreve does a skilled job of portraying grief, conflict and anger while leaving room for hope, redemption and renewal. Her characters are sympathetic without being pitiable, and her prose remains deceptively simple and eloquent throughout.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that Light on Snow is not Shreve’s best work. One called it simplistic, while another complained that the characters’ actions were not believable. Some questioned Shreve’s decision to tell the story from the point of view of an adult Nicky, whose removal from the events deprives the narrative of immediacy. Several readers did find Nicky’s story affecting, and Shreve devotees may enjoy this book as a lesser effort by a favorite author. Those seeking an introduction to her work, however, might look for a different place start—The Pilot’s Wife, perhaps.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316010672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316010672
  • ASIN: 0316010677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. "I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never."

Joking that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejections from magazines for her short stories ("I really could have," she says), she published her early work in literary journals. One of these stories, "Past the Island, Drifting," won an O. Henry prize. Despite this accolade, she quickly learned that one couldn't make a living writing short fiction. Switching to journalism, Shreve traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, where she lived for three years, working as a journalist for an African magazine. One of her novels, The Last Time They Met, contains bits and pieces from her time in Africa.

Returning to the United States, Shreve was a writer and editor for a number of magazines in New York. Later, when she began her family, she turned to freelancing, publishing in the New York Times Magazine, New York magazine and dozens of others. In 1989, she published her first novel, Eden Close. Since then she has written 14 other novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Pilot's Wife, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, Body Surfing, Testimony,and A Change in Altitude.

In 1998, Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, she received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey, and The Pilot's Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah's Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, CBS aired the film version of The Pilot's Wife, starring Christine Lahti, and in fall 2002, The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn, was released in movie theaters.

Still in love with the novel form, Shreve writes only in that genre. "The best analogy I can give to describe writing for me is daydreaming," she says. "A certain amount of craft is brought to bear, but the experience feels very dreamlike."

Shreve is married to a man she met when she was 13. She has two children and three stepchildren, and in the last eight years has made tuition payments to seven colleges and universities.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Anita Shreve, a former high school teacher and prize-winning journalist, is best known as a novelist. "The Pilot's Wife," "All He Ever Wanted," "Fortunes Rocks," and "The Weight of Water," are some of her books which have absorbed and moved me. I have been looking forward to Ms. Shreve's latest offering, "Light On Snow," and the author does not disappoint with this extremely moving character study. Her astute insight into the gamut of human emotions is demonstrated in this simple story of grief and redemption. Here, two people, a father and his adolescent daughter, crippled by tragic loss, seek a semblance of their past lives in a bizarre event they literally stumble into, which impacts them both profoundly.

Nicky Dillon, now thirty, is the narrator. She reminisces back to the time she was twelve, living alone with her dad in an isolated house in the woods, just outside the town of Shepherd, NH. On a December day, near Christmastime, Robert Dillon's wife, Nicky's mother, and her baby sister, Clara, were killed in a car crash. Dillon chose Shepherd at random on his drive north with his remaining daughter, from their former home in Westchester, NY, because he could not drive on any longer. His goal was to remove himself as far as possible from society - to find a quiet place with no memories to bury his grief. Nicky, who was in terrible pain also, was faced with leaving the only home she had ever known, her friends and school, stability.

Two years later, on a cold, wintery afternoon in mid-December, Nicky and her father go for their usual late afternoon walk in the forest. The snowfall is heavy enough to make snowshoes necessary. Deep in the woods they find a newborn infant, abandoned in the snow, lying in a sleeping bag.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The tragic accidental death of Robert Dillon's wife and small daughter has irrevocably altered his life and left him literally staggering through the days in shock and disbelief. Twelve-year old Nicky wasn't home at the time of the accident, the effect on her as traumatic as anything yet experienced in her young life. Dillon's response is instinctive: he moves Nicky to rural New Hampshire, to a small house that is isolated from likely intrusion, effectively sealing off the family from the pain of the world.

Because of her youth, Nicky is quicker to recover, awakening after the long months of grief to find that her father simply cannot shake the depression that weighs upon him. He is barely functioning, turning out simple furniture that provides them with a meager income. They establish a few new routines, afternoon walks and make mostly unsuccessful attempts to engage as a family, albeit a broken one.

It is on one of their late afternoon walks through the darkening countryside buried in new snow, that they first hear whimpering. Finally locating the source of the cries, father and daughter discover a newborn baby, abandoned soon after its birth. After a harrowing ride to the hospital, the baby survives and the Dillon's return home, both in awe of what they have just accomplished. But while Robert ponders the kind of mother who could abandon her child, Nicky is harboring dreams of a changed family dynamic, one that includes the new baby. Robert disabuses Nicky of this idea, but a spark of rebellion has taken root in her soul.

When the baby's mother shows up on their doorstep, both father and daughter are uncomfortable, but before she can leave, Charlotte faints, still weakened by the recent birth.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Annie on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Light On Snow tells the story of Nicky, a twelve year old girl, and her father Robert taking a walk in the snow one winter day only to find an abandoned baby freezing and wrapped in a bloody towel and sleeping bag. They immediately rush home to warm the baby and then take her to the hospital where she can be properly cared for. While there, the police question Robert about the incident but he is released.

Days later as a snow storm is approaching, the mother of the baby comes to their home under the false pretense of looking for furniture, which Roberts makes in his barn. She eventually admits the truth about who she is, but by then it is too late for her to leave and Robert must make the decision of whether or not to turn her in to the authorities. He does not want anything to do with her but as they are faced with time alone, she tells him her side of story and his thoughts and feelings about her begin to change.

Light On Snow is a very haunting story about the decisions we make and what consequences those decisions make on us, and others. The writing is simple to read for being such a complex story. This is the perfect book to curl up and read on a cold winters day.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. Butler on September 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the first time I have felt the need to write a review on a book. The moment I started reading this book I felt a connection to the characters and could not stop reading. This book had me laugh, cry and feel happy. I will recommend this book to all of my friends for a book reading session just so I can read it again!!!!!
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