FictionSnow Country by Sebastian Faulks

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks


Before getting into the nitty gritty, I ought to preface this by mentioning Snow Country is the second book in a planned trilogy, after Human Traces. I haven’t read Human Traces but can state that this novel can absolutely be read as a stand alone book.

From the first line, Snow Country grabbed me hard and pulled me right in — to WWI where a man is lying injured, about to be operated on by a surgeon with very limited resources; a blunt scalpel, a bucket and a nurse who thankfully knows how to sew. The wounded man is Anton Heideck and this is his story.

It is a story that begins in Vienna, where a budding journalist is trying to make his name. When an opportunity comes up, he makes a choice — or a choice is made for him. And the course of his life Is changed forever.

His tale intertwines with that of young Lena, a girl who has faced severe hardship in life thus far. She too has a choice to make. It takes her to Schloss-Seeblick, a snow capped sanatorium, where she is given the opportunity to work and take control of her life. It is here that her path crosses with Anton’s and what comes from their meeting will transform their futures.

I don’t need to tell you that Faulks is a beautiful writer. He brings wartime to life in such a raw and evocative way, it is hard to believe that he himself has not fought, though he is the son of a decorated soldier. But, what’s so special about this book for me is twofold; first, the incredible sense of atmosphere Faulks conveys is simply quite magical. Second, this is so much more than a war story — Snow Country encompasses so many themes and ideas in its pages, yet by relaying them through these particular characters, he manages not to overwhelm you as a reader. I found the dialogue on the different kinds of mental health issues at the time — indeed, the very way in which mental health was understood and perceived — absolutely fascinating and a real highlight.

Thank you so much to @najmafinlay and @hutchheinemann for this beautiful copy. This is a truly special book.

~ Sophie 

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