A group of ordinary souls whose lives intersect at the moment of natural disaster ~ not a totally unusual theme for a novel.
But in Whiter Than Snow, author Sandra Dallas gives the reader such a full bodied, interesting, and sympathetic cast of characters that the avalanche which brings them together almost pales in comparison to their individual life stories.
The first three quarters of the novel, which is set in the 1920’s in a Swandyke, Colorado, a small mining town near the Tenmile Range, is devoted to introducing the characters/residents. Lucy and Dolly Patch, two sisters who have been estranged for years due to a devastating betrayal; Grace Foote, who carefully hides a dark secret beneath her elegant exterior; Joe Cobb, the town’s only black man, who has left his roots in Alabama to save his daughter; Essie Snowball (neé Esther Schnable), who works as a prostitute and hides her only child’s parentage from the rest of the world; and Minder Evans, an aged Civil War veteran who carries deep emotional scars from his days in battle.
Dallas allows each character’s story to take center stage for a while, so the reader becomes well acquainted with each one of these hardworking, loving, yet deeply flawed people. Then, one fateful afternoon as the town’s children are leaving school, a split of snow separates from the mountain high above town and comes crashing down, engulfing them in its path.
As you might guess, each one of our characters stands to lose the most precious thing in their world. They come together at this moment, and learn the power of forgiveness – not only of others, but also of oneself.
I’ve loved every one of Sandra Dallas’ historical novels, and this is no exception. Her love of the West permeates each one, and her devotion to historical detail and realism is spot-on. Her writing has a simplicity of style that perfectly evokes the era about which she writes, and her regional dialects are pitch perfect.
I can’t wait to review this! I have a copy, too, and I hope to get it up by the end of the month. I’ve heard nothing but good about it, and did I tell you I saw it on the front table of Barnes and Noble? Very exciting to have the opportunity to review such a current book! I’m so glad you liked it, I probably will as well if you did.
Not a writer I know, but she sounds worth trying. Is this the best place to start or would you recommend something else?
This sounds wonderful! I love books in which the author spends a little time introducing the characters…just long enough that we begin to care about them.
Then when the disaster happens, we’re on pins and needles…
That does sound wonderful. I love an ensemble cast.
I love books set in the West (probably something to do with growing up when there were a huge number of Western series on TV – I was a horse-mad little girl and adored them) and this sounds excellent. Just hope that it is available on this side of the Atlantic as Sandra Dallas is not a writer I am familiar with.
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