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The Ice Chorus: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (February 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316815551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316815550
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,570,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Here's an Irish-style yarn: a woman of many nicknames meets an artist "considered ugly by most," has a paint-splattered affair with him and then finds comfort in exile at an unhandsome ocean house in Ireland. Stonich (These Granite Islands) pays homage to the Irish storytelling tradition in this sophisticated and fully realized tale of love and forgiveness. Lise is an amateur documentary filmmaker from Canada who loses herself in other people's stories. Having fled to Ireland after her affair ended her marriage and earned her the resentment of her 17-year-old son, Lise documents the stories of the inhabitants of the place where she lives, far from "postcard Ireland, just a small town at low tide." Here she waits for the artist, Charlie, to come to her and rekindle the love they discovered during their whirlwind affair on a trip to Mexico. Amid all this storytelling, Lise allows memories of her philandering father, who died young, to permeate her consciousness. The love story between Lise and Charlie, told in flashbacks, is rose-tinted, but provides a welcome respite from the stark realism of Lise's adjustment to rural Ireland. Midlife renewal and the power of art to transform life are celebrated in this bittersweet tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this tender, elegantly told love story, Liselle flees her native Toronto for a small village on the coast of Ireland. As she slowly incorporates herself into the lives of the villagers, Liselle re-creates the circumstances surrounding the bitter breakup of her 18-year marriage. When she accompanied her workaholic husband on an archaeological dig in Mexico, she met Charlie, a gifted painter. Their intense affair prompts her realization of how she has avoided intimacy ever since she found her father dead and discovered that he had led a double life during her teen years. Although she is now aware of the many ways she has settled for less in her life and marriage, she is slow to act. Then Charlie mounts an art exhibit consisting of eight shockingly intimate portraits of her, forcing her to make a decision. Stonich effortlessly conjures multiple vivid settings and uncommonly interesting characters even as she moves seamlessly between the past and the present. A subtle, lovely evocation of the transforming power of love. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Sarah Stonich is the author of internationally acclaimed novels These Granite Islands, and The Ice Chorus, stories which have left their marks on readers around the world. The eagerly awaited paperpback version of The Ice Chorus is now available. Her memoir Shelter, is now out to rave reviews - visit for more

Here's an interview Sarah recently had with

WR: Please let us know who you are and how we might know you:

SS:I'm a late-late blooming writer. I thought I'd become a painter. Eventually I thought, writing... I'll try that. And I did, thinking that having a crazy mother sort of qualified me. I wrote very badly for a very long time while teaching myself how. My first book was "These Granite Islands" set in my home state of MN.

WR: Any news you would like to share concerning upcoming projects:

SS: I have a new book I really like which is a bit of a departure for me, a volume of interconnected stories, Vacationland. The main character is a crumbling resort - currently occupied by the immigrant builder's granddaughter - a 40-ish painter who's come "home" after her divorce. Various visitors to the place tell its history over a span of 40 years, weaving around the place with a just a degree or two of separation between each character. Vacationland is now with my agent. Just out is "Shelter" a memoir that follows my search for place from childhood to present as I build an off-the-grid retreat in the northwoods. After so many years of fiction, writing Shelter is making me feel a little undressed - in a good way - like a skinny dip into the past. I'm now writing American River - a family saga spanning three generations.

WR: Thoughts concerning the current state of the literary world?

SS: Aside from all the gnashing about the 'new book', the E-book, and how we will be reading, and on what sort of a device or page? People smarter than me are figuring that out. What sticks in my craw is the fallacy that short stories cannot succeed, when, yes, the fact is that short fiction cannot possibly when agents and publishers discourage the genre without a thought to the reader, the future, or the reader's ever-shrinking time to read novels. By the time my 22 year old son's generation are THE book consumers, Wally Lamb novels will be repurposed as doorstops, and big houses that haven't
embraced the genre will have hung by their own petards and lack of vision. Really. There should be an uprising against the naysayers of the short story. Let's kill them all. Or at least give them a good what-for.

WR: Who is your favorite author and why?

SS: I favor a sort of Frankenwriter a mutt - one with the composure of William Trevor, the raw intelligence of Nabokov, Dermot Healy's compassion, Ian McEwan's loyalty and obedience, Micheal Faber's toothy grin, the bark of Irvine Welsh, and Micheal Ondaatjes sense of smell. Super ugly, I might add.

WR: Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to publish?

SS: "Love's Tender Loins" An elbow to the ribs of the romance genre - the story of an unfulfilled housewife who pens and error-fraught historical romance - eventually realizing that her own life needs as much editing as her confused story. I co-wrote it with a friend and we sent it out sans agent on pink paper in heart-shaped boxes with Godiva chocolates. The editors ate up the chocolates. It smolders in a drawer somewhere.

WR:Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

SS: Getting a book published is a big deal - going on tour, seeing the first library editions - are all exciting, but I hadn't counted on the readers. A word or two from a reader approaches the thrill of getting a royalty check. Writing is a lonely business and sometimes even is a torturous uphill slog but an email or even a posted Amazon review from a reader is a real boost that reminds me why I do this - it can make a day - kipper tossed to a starving cat. I think readers are shy about writing - don't be. A reader sharing that something in a story touched or affected them or spoke in some way to their own experience is pretty humbling.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
I'd give this book a ten!
Sue Palmer
The characters are real, and the emotions are heartbreaking and true.
That's all I can say without spoiling it!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mark Munger on April 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a Minnesota author (Suomalaiset: People of the Marsh; Cloquet River Press, 2004; ISBN 0972005064) who enjoys quality literary fiction, I would recommend this latest offering from another Minnesota writer. The tale is tightly woven, psychologically filling, and well drawn. Lise, the protagonist, is someone that you'll want to walk the misty beaches of Ireland's Atlantic Coast with, share a spot of tea with, and ultimately, try to understand. Surrounded by a likeable and elegently crafted supporting cast, the book isn't one that will keep you up at nights pondering "who done it". But it will make you step back and take stock of what you have, who you are, and where you came from. A wonderfully taut and brisk read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tyrone V. Banks on May 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Ice Chorus is a retelling of events that shaped the life of the main character Liselle. We find her in Ireland as she tries to rebuild her life. Through her memories and conversations we find out the results of many of her life's decisions. She has fallen in love with another man and her marriage is in shambles. Her seventeen-year-old son communicates with her but we are certain that this relationship is damaged as well. With no other recourse perceived she travels to Ireland and awaits Charlie, the passionate artist who taught her to enjoy life and celebrate the beauty that she does not see for herself.

As she rediscovers herself she rediscovers her deceased father's past and the secrets that were taken to the grave only to be rediscovered by Liselle. We live life through her eyes and witness vibrant flashbacks and snippets of conversation that often lead us into a dance with her emotions. We can see how and why she has changed and now we will find out where she will go from this point forward.

This book can be deemed poetic storytelling or even a journal of sorts. It is told in a way that will inspire you to live the moment and paint what you have seen. There are so many ideas and emotions that make up this "spiritual paint" but at the conclusion you can see that Liselle has grown even more than she could have imagined as she discovers the truth.

Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks of Betsie's Literary Page.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laurie J. Roy on March 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was delighted by the storytelling woven into the lives of the

characters. Each characters story blends to an insight of

of their lives past and present.

The Old Irish legends of Love, characters finding love, love leaving,....and beginning again...all bringing to light the

love we all wish to have. Love of Family
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KatPanama on September 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finished Sarah Stonich's "The Ice Chorus" last night. Superb novel, terrific in more ways than I can count but chief among them is Stonich's way with a story and language as well as the settings: Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and Ireland. Great book for sea-lovers, too. Stonich's first novel is a great read, too: "These Granite Islands" (love that title).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joan Mora on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Ice Chorus is one of my favorite novels. Maybe it's the alternating backdrop of a scorching Mexican beach and the cool, stony cliffs of Ireland. Perhaps it's the tragic love story shot through a lens shrouded in misinterpretation and family secrets. More likely it's the tightly-woven plot and multi-layered characters. This is one I'll re-read every few years and tuck safely on my shelf.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeanette TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
This one didn't touch me quite like These Granite Islands because I couldn't warm up to some of the characters. BUT---when I read the epilogue I found myself snorking and snuffling and wiping the tears from my cheeks, wondering how Sarah Stonich managed to do that to me again.
It was the Irish characters that got to my heart. The love and loyalty between Remy and Maggie Conner is enviable, and was so sweetly portrayed. And you can't help loving their granddaughter Siobhan for her sass and spunky determination.

The book alternates between the past in Mexico and the present in Ireland, with a little bit of Toronto tossed in between the two.
We first meet Lise as she arrives on the Irish coast to start a new life. Her marriage to Stephen has dissolved, and she is estranged from her teenaged son Adam. She meets the locals, begins to settle in, and then flashes back on the affair she had in Mexico with a Welsh painter named Charlie Lowan.

I never really connected with Charlie's character, and I'm not sure I even liked him. But by the end of the book I could appreciate what he had done for Lise. In his desire to know her--all of her--he teaches her about true intimacy, which she never experienced in 18 years of marriage. Charlie's questions force her to confront the truth about her marriage, herself, and her father's early death.

I thought Lise made a real hash of it when she realized she had to drastically change her life. Her behavior was foolish, and unfair to her husband and son. I liked her a lot better, though, as she relaxed into her new life in Ireland. It seemed like she was softening up and blossoming as she allowed her new friends to see her authentic self. They open up to her as she films them telling their stories, and in turn she feels safe enough to share her own secrets.

Once again, gorgeous writing with an artist's eye for detail, just as in Stonich's first novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rose City Reader on October 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Sarah Stonich's sophomore novel, The Ice Chorus, is one of those rare books in which all the parts come together seamlessly. The ideas, plot, characters, and images all work to entertain the reader with the rich story of Liselle's life-changing romance with Charlie, an artist she met in Mexico.

Liselle, living in a nondescript Irish fishing town, films and interviews her new neighbors for a nascent documentary about love, waits for her artist lover to return, and mulls over her affair with Charlie, her marriage, and her tragic relationship with her father. It is a romantic story that looks beyond mere romance to examine the way passionate love affects every part of life, including where people live and the direction of their careers.
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