One thing I don’t want to read about just in books is the four seasons. Experiencing them, one and all, is one of my favorite things about living in New England. Autumn is arguably the gaudiest, with our fabulous foliage. Still, I love winter too, even the snowstorms. It gives us a common experience to rally around, even if this does involve some grumbling from time to time. Plus, it makes me appreciate spring and summer that much more.
All this is to say, I’m not enjoying this uncommonly warm weather. Short sleeves and flip-flops in December? I’d prefer not, though my preferences are clearly not always a factor. In this case, I’m obliged to turn my attention to my secret weather machine, know as “books.”
And so I give you, seven books that include pivotal snow scenes.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. The story of how the 1957 novel found its audience (an Italian publisher smuggled it out of the Soviet Union) is almost as intriguing as the novel itself. Almost. It follows Yuri Zhivago from the waning days of the Romanov Empire through World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, featuring many a winter scene along the way.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. During a bleak New England winter in the town of Starkfield that provides copious opportunities to reflect mood through descriptions of the weather, Ethan Frome falls in love with his sickly wife’s beautiful cousin. They take an ill-fated sled ride, and tragedy (times a million billions) ensues.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Who can forget the tragic scene that takes place on a snow-dusted night? (Major spoiler averted!)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Semple’s witty, poignant book may have been largely set in Seattle, but her young protagonist goes all the way to the snowy landscape of Antarctica in search of her mother.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. From the World War II country home where Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are spirited to escape the London Blitz, the four siblings enter the fairy winterscape of Narnia, iced over by the White Witch and waiting for a hero (or four) to lift the spell.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. In this heartbreaking and important novel, which tells an often-neglected tragedy of history, 15-year old Lina and her family are expelled from their home in Lithuania and sent through Belarus and the Ural Mountains, across the Arctic Circle to the North Pole.
Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. As a snowstorm bears down on upstate New York, 200 high school musicians converge on a fading resort hotel for a music festival. The rollicking adventure of a novel features shocking reveals, mayhem, highjinks, and a very dramatic scene in a snow bank.
What are your favorite snow scenes in literature?