Season of the Snake: A Novel

Overview

The new novel by the award-winning author of Winter Range

When tragedy leaves her life in shambles, Nance flees her Wisconsin hometown and its reminders of grief, creating a new life in the West. She is a scientist, specializing in rattlesnakes and attrition rates in dens, believing that "you can overcome fear, control the level of risk by being prepared, by knowing your subject." Now with a home in Lewiston, Idaho, overlooking the Snake River,...

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Season of the Snake: A Novel

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Overview

The new novel by the award-winning author of Winter Range

When tragedy leaves her life in shambles, Nance flees her Wisconsin hometown and its reminders of grief, creating a new life in the West. She is a scientist, specializing in rattlesnakes and attrition rates in dens, believing that "you can overcome fear, control the level of risk by being prepared, by knowing your subject." Now with a home in Lewiston, Idaho, overlooking the Snake River, and her marriage to Ned Able, a grade school principal, Nance finally feels at peace.

Then an unexpected visit from her wayward sister Meredith revives old family conflicts, and resurrects a secret life that has long lain dormant in Ned. While Nance and Meredith mend their relationship, Ned's other nature begins to emerge, transforming him in ways that Nance denies, until, with the help of her sister, she is made to see what lies beneath the skin. But neither can predict how far Ned will go to hide his past, or where his frightening memories will lead him as he searches out an object for his obsession.

Claire Davis's debut novel, Winter Range, established her as a powerful voice in American writing. Season of the Snake extends her scope with a dramatic story, a vividly evoked setting, and an unforgettable group of characters.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Advance Praise for Season of the Snake

"A suspenseful and heartbreaking meditation on the nature of fate, family, sex, death, and our individual misuses of love. Truly a thrilling novel."---Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life, The Fruit of Stone, and Where Rivers Change Direction
"Claire Davis's new novel is a psychological thriller written with an almost Proustian sense of detail. It would not surprise me if Season of the Snake turns out to be this year's Mystic River, that rare book that manages to be both a huge literary and popular success."---Steve Yarbrough, author of Prisoners of War and The Oxygen Man
"In Claire Davis's chilling new novel, predators wear the colors of their surroundings and only the undeceived survive. A tough, smart story given in uncommonly vibrant and muscular language. Season of the Snake reconfirms her place in the first rank of voices from the American West."-David Long, author of The Falling Boy
"Like a coiled diamondback, Claire Davis's Season of the Snake grabs your attention and doesn't let go. The only time I put it down was to get up and lock the doors."---Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean

Library Journal
Snakes figure prominently in this follow-up to Winter Range, which won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. Nance is a herpetologist studying rattler migration along the Snake River in Idaho and Washington. A snake is also a treacherous, insidious person, and it is readily apparent that Nance's charming but staid school principal second husband, Ned, is hiding some major psychological dysfunction. When Nance's reckless younger sister Meredith moves nearby, Ned's careful equilibrium teeters, and his behavior becomes increasingly erratic and violent, like a snake whose nest has been disturbed. Meredith has a history of abusive relationships, and Nance secretly blames her for inadvertently causing the death of Nance's first love. The tension between the sisters is palpable, and it's only when Ned turns on Nance that she is able to feel empathy for Meredith. Ned's back story lacks depth, but vivid scenery and a tangible impression of ominous menace will appeal to fans of literary psychological suspense. For Northwest fiction collections.-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Second-novelist Davis (Winter Range, 2000) presents another powerful and suspenseful tale that taps the violent side of masculine nature. Back home in Mississippi, where they grew up, sisters Meredith and Nance didn't have a lot of luck with men: drawn chronically to battering, abusive lovers, Meredith would end up in the emergency room, while the older Nance, cool-headed and focused, became a distraught widow when the love of her life, her husband Joe, was struck down by hoodlums in the park. After moving to Lewiston, Idaho, to pursue her work as a herpetologist, and after marrying an elementary school principal, Nance finally seems blessed, even when her sister and harbinger of grief also moves to Lewiston. Meredith doesn't trust men, and certainly not Nance's husband, Ned, whose reticence about himself leaves her feeling he's withholding "some knowledge exclusively in his keeping." Davis gradually builds suspense from this "withheld knowledge," tracking both Nance as she hunts snakes on wilderness trips to identify and bag them for the lab, and creepy husband Ned as he disappears for increasingly longer periods of time on shadowy errands-moving from peeping Tom to bona fide sex criminal. Besides an occasional heavy-handedness on the snake metaphor (Nance "shed[s] the scales from her eyes"), Davis's writing is masterful, revealing a deft sense of relationships-including sisterly love-that are sometimes so stiflingly close that they exclude other people, as in Ned's case, and sometimes so volatile that they're capable of creating vicious resentment. Nance's first marriage to Joe is tenderly, heartbreakingly depicted before it vanishes like a dream, while her second, to the orderly,attentive Ned, is carefully and skillfully delineated. Moreover, Davis isn't afraid to provoke some compelling questions about violence against women and the guilt subsequently felt by the victim. A chilling peek into the snake-charmer's pit. Regional author tour. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand/Elaine Markson Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312332822
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/4/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 10.24 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire Davis is the author of Winter Range, winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for Best First Novel and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for Best Novel in 2000. Her short fiction has been chosen for the Best American Short Stories annual collection, read as part of the Symphony Space series on National Public Radio, and published in numerous magazines. She lives in Lewiston, Idaho, where she teaches creative writing at Lewis-Clark College.

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