Literary Winter Wonderland • December 2020
#1  sun surfer 12-01-2020, 11:26 AM
Help select what we'll read and discuss next!

The topic is Winter Wonderland.

This topic is pretty open for a lot of things!

Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.


Nominations are now complete. Voting is now open! Results through post #26-

#2  AnotherCat 12-02-2020, 10:23 PM
My nominations are:

The Snow Goose - Paul Gallico (Novella)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis,_the_Witch_and_the_Wardrobe

The Long Walk - Slavomir Rawicz (challenged autobiography)

The Snow Goose must have been read by most British readers, and certainly many here in NZ and Australia; North America maybe not?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been sitting on my to read list for a long time, so a selfish nomination.

The Long Walk I have read before (and also seen the movie adaption The Way Back) and is for me to be read again sometime. It is claimed to be an autobiography but there are some challenges as to its veracity; however if not entirely true or was someone else's trek it still makes a good story whose popularity has survived the test of time.

#3  sun surfer 12-04-2020, 07:27 PM
Those are three diverse nominations, AnotherCat! I read the Narnia books when I was really young, maybe almost too young because I remember the last book scaring me, lol. It could be fun to read the first one again all these years later.

I've got my nominations down to four and just need to figure out which three to put up.

#4  Bookworm_Girl 12-04-2020, 09:22 PM
I am working on my nominations. I have a few ideas so far.

#5  Bookworm_Girl 12-05-2020, 01:01 AM
My first nomination is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I read it last winter and really enjoyed it.

From Goodreads:
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

#6  Bookworm_Girl 12-05-2020, 01:24 AM
My second nomination is The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories. It sounds fun and includes authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott and Elizabeth Gaskell.

From Amazon:
The first-ever collection of Victorian Christmas ghost stories, culled from rare 19th-century periodicals

During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. Now for the first time thirteen of these tales are collected here, including a wide range of stories from a diverse group of authors, some well-known, others anonymous or forgotten. Readers whose only previous experience with Victorian Christmas ghost stories has been Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" will be surprised and delighted at the astonishing variety of ghostly tales in this volume.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 12-05-2020, 02:42 AM
My last nomination is Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

From Amazon:
The bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

#8  sun surfer 12-05-2020, 01:17 PM
My first nomination is The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (not the supermodel, heh). It's about an Englishman travelling in France in the 1920s still trying to recover from WWI, whose car swerves off the road during a snowstorm in the Pyrenees. Through the woods he finds a tiny village inn where he meets a woman and they share stories through the night.

Goodreads . Preview . 260 Pages . 2009 . England

By the author of the "New York Times"-bestselling "Labyrinth," a story of two lives touched by war and transformed by courage.

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution to the horrors of World War I, Freddie is traveling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation.

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic, centuries-old mystery, and discovered his own role in the life of this remote town.

#9  sun surfer 12-05-2020, 01:25 PM
My second nomination is The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys. I thought the idea of reading vignettes of all the times in recorded history that the Thames has frozen over sounds fun and unique.

Goodreads . Preview . 186 Pages . 2007 . Canada & England

A groundbreaking, genre-bending new work from one of Canada’s most respected writers.

In its long history, the River Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river.

And so opens one of the most breathtaking and original works being published this season. The Frozen Thames contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the river froze between 1142 and 1895. Like a photograph captures a moment, etching it forever on the consciousness, so does Humphreys’ achingly beautiful prose. She deftly draws us into these intimate moments, transporting us through time so that we believe ourselves observers of the events portrayed. Whether it’s Queen Matilda trying to escape her besieged castle in a snowstorm, or lovers meeting on the frozen river in the plague years; whether it’s a simple farmer persuading his oxen the ice is safe, or Queen Bess discovering the rare privacy afforded by the ice-covered Thames, the moments are fleeting and transformative for the characters — and for us, too.

Stunningly designed and illustrated throughout with full-colour period art, The Frozen Thames is a triumph.

#10  sun surfer 12-05-2020, 01:41 PM
And lastly I'll nominate Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay. This one is about a famous ballerina with dark secrets, originally from Russia but now living in retirement in Boston, who decides to auction off some jewellery. She contemplates her life and it traces her past in Stalinist Russia up until the present. I really enjoyed the preview and what I found intriguing about this was that while it doesn't sound like it shies away from the bleak politicial and economic climate of Russia in the 20th century, the protagonist is someone who has somewhat of a privileged and definitely artistic life.

Goodreads . Preview . 466 Pages . 2010 . U.S.

In a time of fear and danger, they were determined to live a life of beauty and grace . . .

When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi ballet, believes she has drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the aged dancer finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events—both glorious and heartbreaking—that changed the course of her life half a century before.

It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of the theatre; that she fell in love with the poet Viktor Elsin; that she and her dearest companions—Gersh, a dangerously irreverent composer, and the exquisite Vera, Nina’s closest friend—became victims of Stalinist aggression; that a terrible discovery led to a deadly act of betrayal—and to an ingenious escape that eventually brought her to the city of Boston.

Nina has hidden her dark secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest—Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate director at the Boston auction house, and a Russian professor named Grigori Solodin who believes that a unique set of amber jewels may hold the key to his own ambiguous past. Together, these unlikely partners find themselves unraveling a literary mystery whose answers will hold life-changing consequences for them all.

Artfully interweaving past and present, Moscow and New England, the behind-the-scenes tumult of theatre life and the transformative power of art, Daphne Kalotay’s luminous debut novel, an ingeniously plotted page turner of the highest literary order, captures the joy, uncertainty, and terror of lives powerless to withstand the forces of history, while affirming that even in the presence of evil, suspicion, and fear the human spirit reaches for transcendence and love.

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