Book review: Love and Eskimo Snow

Love and Eskimo Snow by Sarah Holt 28-7-14This is a novel about the nature of love and its different forms. It begins with death. Bea Bridges is killed in a car crash. The story of her childhood is told retrospectively, interwoven with the love lives of three other women – Missy, Claire and Elizabeth – from childhood crush to first kiss, friendship, first love and lust.

I waited for the women’s’ lives to connect, were they all connected with the car crash? When the strands did combine, it wasn’t what I expected.

It is an interesting study of the different types of love. Bea: the unqualified, un-questioning love of a child for her parents. Missy: a nurturing love for her boyfriend Lee who is a trifle chauvinistic about her needs and his needs. Elizabeth: who meets fellow student Joey and loves him as a brother and best friend. Claire: sexual attraction, masquerading as love.

It is a cleverly structured debut novel, Holt [below] is a former journalist, with an intriguing title. The Sami Eskimos have around 200 different words for snow: wet snow, slippery snow, icy snow. Holt doesn’t find 200 meanings of love, but she does examine how love varies from relationship to relationship, person to person and context to context. How do we learn to love? From watching our parents’ relationship? From our peers? And do we ever learn to recognise the type of love we are feeling at a particular moment?



There are some poignant moments. Bea as a child had nightmares of being buried alive, so her father gives her a silver-coloured plastic key which she keeps in her bedside drawer. As an adult she still has that key, but it is not put into her coffin.

The loose ends of the story are connected by Bea’s mother as she reads her daughter’s journal after the funeral. And then wishes she hadn’t.  A reminder that there are no convenient answers and this is not a ‘happy ever after’ ending. The novel defines a genre label. It has romance, yes; relationships, yes; but is it a romance novel? Not quite, there is a deeper message to the plotting.

To read the first two and a half chapters, click here.
‘Love and Eskimo Snow’ by Sarah Holt [Valley Press]

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