Review of THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS by Kris Radish (see her website)
Bantam, June 2003
Review by Cathy Richard Dodson (see her website)
When eight women in a small Wisconsin town take off walking one Spring evening, it causes quite a stir not only in their hometown, but around the country as well. The women have been meeting for a “study group” every Thursday night for several years, but suddenly, when one of them discovers she's pregnant and isn't sure she wants to have the baby, they decide to walk until they're ready to quit. Without asking permission from husbands, families, or jobs, they set out on an unforgettable journey.
As the novel-and their walk-progresses, not only do we learn intimate details about the lives of Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne, and Janice, we also meet the people they meet along the way, people whose lives are changed by the story of their pilgrimage. Even as their story attracts national attention, they refuse to speak to reporters or anyone except a few people who kindly offer their homes as stopping points along the way. No one, perhaps not even the women themselves, really understands why they've chosen to take up this walk-they just have.
The walk, however, becomes inspirational for women all over the country, who find themselves recognizing a longing to just pick up and go like these eight women have done. Sometimes, they do just that. As each of the walkers' history unfolds, the reader discovers why this journey is important to them individually, and what inner questions they hope to find answers for before they reach the end of the road.
I love the title of this book-The Elegant Gathering of White Snows-and because its source is unique to the story, I won't give it away. I'd call this “mature” chick lit, because the women are mostly in their mid-thirties up, so you won't find the usual shopping and career-building in this novel. Their stories are deep, and the issues and answers aren't for the ultra-conservative reader. I liked the book and the women overall, but I wouldn't say I was swept up by either the story and characterizations. The book didn't move any strong emotions in me; the characters didn't touch any chords that really resonated, though I've certainly experienced some of these issues myself. If you like stories about women's friendships, this is certainly a book you'll enjoy. If you're looking for excitement and a fast paced plot, you won't find it here.
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