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The Ice Queen: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, January 3, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, January 3, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A solitary New Jersey librarian whose favorite book is a guide to suicide methods is struck by lightning in Alice Hoffman's superb novel, The Ice Queen. Orphaned at the age of eight after angrily wishing she would never see her mother again, our heroine found herself frozen emotionally: "I was the child who stomped her feet and made a single wish and in so doing ended the whole world‹my world, at any rate." Her brother Ned solved the pain of their mother's death by becoming a meteorologist: applying reason and logic to bad weather. Eventually, he invites our heroine to move down to Florida, where he teaches at a university. Here, while trying to swat a fly, she is struck by lightning (the resulting neurological damage includes an inability to see the color red). Orlon County turns out to receive two thirds of all the lightning strikes in Florida each year, and our heroine soon becomes drawn into the mysteries of lightning: the withering of trees and landscape near a strike, the medical traumas and odd new abilities of victims, the myths of renewal. Although a recluse, she becomes fascinated by a legendary local farmer nicknamed Lazarus Jones, said to have beaten death after a lightning strike: to have seen the other side and come back. The burning match to her cool reserve--her personal unguided tour through Hades--Lazarus will prove to be the talisman that restores her to girlhood innocence and possibility.

Hoffman's story advances with a feline economy of language and movement--not a word spared for the color of the sky, unless the color of the sky factors into the narrative. Among the authors who have played with the fairy tale's harsh mercies (e.g. Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter), Hoffman has the closest understanding of the primal fears that drive the genre, and why, perhaps, we never outgrow fairy stories, but only learn to substitute dull, wholesome qualities like personal initiative or good timing for the elements that raise the hairs on our neck and send us scrambling for the light switch. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes... burn your tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back." Thus begins Hoffman's (Practical Magic; Here on Earth) stellar 18th novel about healing and transformation. As an eight-year-old, the unnamed narrator makes a terrible wish that comes true; remorseful for the next 30 years, she shuts down emotionally to become a self-proclaimed ice queen. Unlike her brother, Ned, who relies on logic, math and science to make sense of the world, the loner librarian fears the chaotic randomness of existence and is obsessed by death. Then lightning strikes, literally. In a flash, she's jolted out of her rut, noticing for the first time all that she's been taking for granted—even the color red, which after the strike she can no longer see: "How could I have been so stupid to ignore everything I'd had in my life? The color red alone was worth kingdoms." The novel turns sultry when the slowly melting ice queen seeks out reclusive Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightning survivor who came back to life after 40 minutes of death: "I wanted a man like that, one it was impossible to kill, who wouldn't flinch if you wished him dead." Blanketed in prose that has never been dreamier and gloriously vivid imagery, this life-affirming fable is ripe with Hoffman's trademark symbolism and magic, but with a steelier edge: "Every fairy tale had a bloody lining. Every one had teeth and claws." Both longtime fans and newcomers will relish it. Agent, Elaine Markson. 10-city author tour. (Apr. 4)
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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154385
  • ASIN: B000HEYVP4
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,681,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman's first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff's magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published a total of eighteen novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte's masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Her advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman (Women's Cancer) Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman's recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, Skylight Confessions, a novel about one family's secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Her first novel. Her most recent novel is The Story Sisters (2009), published by Shaye Areheart Books.

Hoffman's work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay "Independence Day" a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been an Alice Hoffman fan since TURTLE MOON. While some of her later efforts have left me a bit flat, THE ICE QUEEN grabbed me and held on until the very last word on the very last page.

An almost invisible librarian from New Jersey lives an almost invisible life, carefully removing herself from any emotional attachments after the death of her mother when she was a young girl.

Her older brother, Ned, is her portal to the outside world. When their grandmother dies, Ned moves her to Florida, where's he's a married professor.

On a particulary hot day, the librarian (whose name is never given) survives a direct hit by lightning. She reluctantly agrees to become part of a study with other lightning strike survivors. She hears of a man named Lazarus Jones . . . nicknamed so because he was apparently dead for 40 minutes after a lightning strike, woke up, and simply walked out the hospital.

Our ice queen is compelled to find Lazarus Jones and hear his side of the story. Jones, it seems, is still burning (literally) from the strike, while our heroine's world has gone cold and gray (literally).

One of the wonderful things about reading anything Hoffman writes is that you must suspend your traditional beliefs and abandon universal truths to completely "get" her stories.

I read the book in one sitting. Mystical. Intriguing. Thought-provoking. Ultimately satisfying.

Yep. That's Hoffman at her best.

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Format: Hardcover
Alice Hoffman has always been a master of character development, and she continues to weave her magic in this electrifying novel. The main character, a self-punishing librarian, takes the reader on a fascinating journey of forgiveness and self-realization. Along the way she learns that things are not always as they seem, and "truths" on which a life is based, may not be true at all. This beautifully written story will be enjoyed by all Hoffman fans. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Death is the subject. Not the kind that appears after years and years, almost welcome, but death that snatches loved ones away, leaving survivors to deal with the shock of loss. The girl in the story is eight when she makes her first fateful wish, resentful that her mother is leaving for the evening. The mother dies in an accident and the girl (who remains nameless throughout) believes she caused her mother's death. She turns herself into ice in an effort to avoid any more pain.

Later, when the woman's brother, Ned, moves his sister to Florida from New Jersey, the thirty-something woman remains as frozen and isolated as a princess in a fairy tale. Carelessly, she makes another fateful wish, to be struck by lightning. Viola! Once more her wish is granted. Now a survivor of a lightning strike, like others gathered for a scientific study, the woman has great difficulty returning to a normal life. But this lady has already marked herself, believing she has the ability to wish away life or bring on a lightning strike.

Through her meetings with other survivors, the woman, like a turtle, gradually pokes her head out to notice the others who inhabit the world, even in this bizarre situation. Piqued by curiosity about a man who is dead for forty minutes before returning to life, she follows an impulse to meet Lazarus Jones. They are opposites, he fire and she ice. They meet in the dark, igniting each other, a combustible romance that cannot last but is impossible to resist.

The woman's long, slow awakening is the theme of the novel, her quest to understand death and free herself from the restraints that have turned her life into a hollow shell: "The way to trick death. Breathe in. Breathe out.
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Format: Hardcover
Clever and beautiful Alice Hoffman's The Ice Queen is an exploration into the human psyche. Having moments of sheer brilliance the characters of this work come to life in a masterful way.

After the loss of her mother when she was a child, a loss she blames herself for as one could think only a child could, the protagonist becomes rigid and emotionally devoid. Her reaction is understandably modern response as many today insulate themselves into not feeling anything rather than feeling both pleasure and pain. It is also the response found often in traumatized children. However some of the themes of this book actually harken back to the works of the ancient Greeks.

Her brother becomes a meteorologist in contrast to "the ice queen" and here we have two approaches to our lives: the logical and the mystical.

However her wishes again become reality as an adult when she is struck by lightening. So is the ice queen omnipotent or hounded by the Furies?

First believing she caused a death, then as an adult surviving death she find herself seeking out a man nicknamed "Lazerus" who was also struck by lightening. Ah, the Gods!

Through it all the ice queen journeys on a path of enlightenment.

This is my first exposure to Alice Hoffman's work and I find it both enchanting and intellectually satisfying. A Jungian fairy tale that I recommend.
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