Moffat suddenly seems to have become the place to be. Thursdays at the Black Bull are a must for music lovers. A recent concert sold out in hours. Brodies, the restaurant/cafe/bistro whose cakes and dishes I've been posting shots of for a while now, is constantly packed with friendly munchers and sippers (they already have only two tables left for Hogmanay!). And now a major new Alaskan author is coming here as part of her five day UK book launch tour.
Eowyn Ivey's book has been selected by Oprah Magazine as among 10 titles to "Pick Up Now" in the February issue; by Waterstones as a UK Waterstones prestigious "11" award; as a book to watch by all number of newspapers including The Independent and The Times; will be Radio 4's Book at Bedtime in April, and is already a bestseller in Norway.
This is what her website says about the book:
In The Snow Child, a couple creates a child out of snow. When she appears on their doorstep as a little girl, wild and secretive, their lives are changed forever.
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for a couple who have never been able to conceive. Jack and Mabel 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 catch sight of an elusive, 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 leaves blizzards in her wake. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who seems to have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in the Alaska wilderness, life and death are inextricable, and what they eventually learn about Faina changes their lives forever.
Eowyn was inspired to write the novel after she discovered the classic Russian fairy tale of the snow maiden. She was shelving books in the children's section of Fireside Books when she happened across a copy of Freya Littledale's retelling of the fairy tale with illustrations by Alaskan artist Barbara Lavallee. The story haunted Eowyn with its loneliness and magic in a landscape so similar to the one she grew up in. She spent the next few months researching the original tale, and depictions of it in Russian art work, before she began writing.
The Snow Child has been described as a "remarkable achievement", "stunningly conceived" and "enchanting from beginning to end."
How fab does that sound?
The event takes place at Moffat House Hotel on Saturday 18th February, from 6pm. Tickets are a mere seven quid. I'll be there with fellow members of the new Moffat Writing Group (name yet to be decided) whose inaugural meeting is this Thursday, 7pm at the school.*
So, musician or music lover, writer or book lover: rather wonderfully I seem to find myself living in a town full of fellow tribesmen.
*This group follows on from the classes I've been teaching.