Snow Island

Snow Island

3.6 22
by Katherine Towler

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George Tibbits steps from the ferry on a Spring day in 1941, and Alice Daggett is there to watch his silent arrival with the other Islanders. He is a recluse in his forties and the owner of the Island’s twin houses. She is a sixteen year old who spends her days attending the one-room schoolhouse, running the Island’s only store, and waiting for her real…  See more details below


George Tibbits steps from the ferry on a Spring day in 1941, and Alice Daggett is there to watch his silent arrival with the other Islanders. He is a recluse in his forties and the owner of the Island’s twin houses. She is a sixteen year old who spends her days attending the one-room schoolhouse, running the Island’s only store, and waiting for her real life to begin. As the isolated Island community is drawn into war, 'Snow Island' tells the story of two people who face the consequences of loss and choices made in love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wartime disrupts the lives of the inhabitants of a New England islet off the coast of Rhode Island in this graceful debut novel. The men of Snow Island engage in the dangerous business of quahogging, and their families eke out a living running small businesses that depend on the wealthier summer residents for survival. Alice Daggett is 16 years old in 1941. She attends school in a one-room schoolhouse with twins Lydia and Pete Giberson, the only companions her age on the island, and has shouldered the responsibility of keeping the family store running since the death of her father five years earlier. The summer season of 1941 gets off to its usual start with the arrival of mysterious loner George Tibbits, who makes his annual pilgrimage to the houses his aunts owned when he was a boy site of a tragedy from which he has never quite recovered. While the rebellious Lydia spends her time with the summer in-crowd, Alice secretly becomes close to Ethan Cunningham, the 26-year-old lighthouse keeper with artistic ambitions. The quiet off-season life of the island changes dramatically after Pearl Harbor: a navy base opens, and Alice and Lydia now spend their free time plane spotting. After Ethan enlists soon followed by Pete and Lydia Alice is left alone to grapple with the consequences of her relationships and her growing sense of self. The story elements here may be familiar, and the inner motivations of some characters (George Tibbits, in particular) remain vague despite explication, but Towler's strength is her deft rendering of time and place. Lyrical and gentle, Alice's wartime coming-of-age and the island itself continues to resonate after the last page. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A gentle, slow-moving story of life on a remote island off the coast of New England before and during WW II. The three parts of the book chronicle the summers of 1941, 1942, and 1943 from the point of view of Alice Dagett. Sixteen years old when the book opens, Alice runs the island store for her widowed mother. In those years, Alice grows up quickly when she becomes the lover of the 26-year-old lighthouse keeper. Discovering she is pregnant after he enlists, she gives the baby away when he marries a college girlfriend. She becomes secretly engaged to a boy she grew up with, but he is killed in the war. Towler parallels Alice's story with that of George Tibbits, who was raised by maiden aunts on the island, and who returns every year on the anniversary of his return from WW I. Although their paths frequently cross, their stories remain distinct. Towler's skill is in character development. All of the characters, including secondary ones, are complex but well defined for the reader. Because Towler conveys the setting and time so well, this title can be used as part of a unit on the home front during the war. However, the story moves so slowly that only the most mature high school reader will stick with it to the end. KLIATT Codes: SA�Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Penguin Putnam, Plume, 285p.,
— Shelley Glantz
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A small New England island in the early 1940s is the setting for this lovely first novel. It entwines the stories of 16-year-old Alice Daggett, who lives on Snow Island, and George Tibbits, a reclusive World War I veteran who returns every summer to the place where he grew up. He stays overnight in one of the houses that belonged to his two aunts who raised him after the death of his parents, and who themselves died tragically. But in 1942 he stays for the season, planning to make a boat trip around the island, as he and his beloved Aunt Sarah had always wanted to do when he was a boy. Because of her father's death and her mother's inability to cope, Alice has to run the family store and has little time for a typical teen life. She becomes drawn to Ethan Cunningham, the 26-year-old lighthouse keeper, and together they save George after his boat sinks on his circumnavigation attempt. When the war reaches Snow Island, Ethan enlists. Shortly after he leaves, the teen realizes that she is pregnant, and then learns that he has married. Alice leaves the island; in the end, it is George who returns her kindness by comforting her and helping her to see that it is time to return home. This coming-of-age novel is beautifully written-life on the remote island is easy to visualize and the two stories are smoothly linked. This book should have strong appeal to teens.-Sydney Hausrath, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sensitive debut novel (selected by Barnes & Noble for its Winter Discover Program) about a young woman's coming of age during WWII on an island in Narragansett Bay. Snow Island, off Rhode Island, is not especially remote, but in the 1940s it is still without telephones and only recently has gotten electricity. There's only one store, run by Evelyn Daggett-or, rather, by Evelyn's infinitely more efficient daughter Alice. The Daggett shop, like most of Snow Island, lives off the summer trade and gets by on credit for the rest of the year, for there are fewer than a hundred full-year residents to make up their trade. These include a fair share of oddballs, like the quahogger Owen Pierce, who practically lives on his boat and has a personal anecdote on just about any subject. There are also the usual dark scandals, like that of the Tibbits sisters, Grace and Bertha, who were found dead (one by suicide, the other of natural causes) in their twin houses one day in 1919 by their nephew George, a mainlander who has made an annual pilgrimage back ever since. It's not a very exciting place to grow up, but Alice enjoys running the shop and acting as postmistress, and she finds herself more and more drawn to handsome Ethan Cunningham, an island boy who went off to college and returned to look after his sick mother after his father died. Alice's best friend is Lydia Giberson, whose brother Pete is in love with Alice. But Alice becomes Ethan's lover instead, discovering only after he moves away that she's pregnant. Pete offers to marry her, but Alice arranges to give the child up for adoption. Eventually she discovers that Ethan is married, while Pete is soon to ship off with the Navy. Should shereally give the baby up? Almost like an offshore Peyton Place at times, but also a well-crafted tale, subtle and memorable, that should have a broad appeal.

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Product Details

MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
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Room eleven was at the end of the corridor. When he cautiously turned the handle, George was reassured each year to find the room the same: the furniture, the wallpaper, the dirty surface of the lone window, all just as it had been that night in 1919 when he came home from the war. The bed was in the same place against the wall, with the bedstand and small, bent rocking chair beside it. An oval mirror hung over a dresser on the opposite wall. These were the only pieces of furniture. His first act on entering room eleven, after setting his suitcase on the floor by the dresser, was to take the rocking chair and place it by the window. Then the room was arranged just as it had been the night of his first homecoming twenty-two years earlier, when he sat in the dark without sleeping, staring out at the rooftops and the docks and the black surface of the bay, not knowing what he would find on the island.

Like the rest of Priscilla Alden, room eleven had suffered in the years since then. George wasn't sure when the paint had begun to chip off the metal bedstead or the wallpaper to peel away from that spot up by the ceiling. The decay of the room came about slowly, in buts and peeves, and it was only now, returning as he had every year since then, that the small signs of collapse seemed to accumulate, to add to something, though he couldn't see what.

In a vague way, George puzzled over this as he sat by the window on this dark morning, watching the rain fall. In the street down below, a woman walked quickly, holding her arms against her chest. The collar of her worn raincoat was turned up around her next, and she wore a thick scarf around her head. The last glimpse of the woman as she scurried around the corner and up the hill toward Front Street only confirmed what he already knew: room eleven was another place, the streets of Barton belonged to a different time, and the world, the world itself was not the same and never would be. These thoughts flickered silently in the corners of his mind and then, like the sight of the woman's back, small and gray, hurrying off, faded.

He had not planned on the rain. He came to Barton with the intention of spending only one night in the Priscilla Alden and taking the morning ferry to Snow Island, just as he had on that distant day, when he came home from the war. George studied the almanacs and listened to the announcers on the radio, waiting for the perfect day, one which matched that first homecoming down to the lavender light reflecting off the sidewalk as he stepped from the train. This year the weather had tricked him. He arrived in Barton on a clear evening when the sharp circle of the sun was low in the sky, and the air had that clean, blue tinge to it. A soft breeze carried up from the docks, warm with the smell of salt and dead fish, the pleasantly dank odor that hung over the town even at high tide. He imagined waking in the morning to the bright, still day he remembered, hovering expectantly between spring and summer, unable to make up its mind. Instead there was the rain, falling in that determined way it had kept up ever since. He had no choice but to wait for it to end, sitting out the hours while the water on the windowpane turned the docks to thin, fluid lines in the distance. He could have taken the ferry over in the rain, but that would have defeated the entire purpose of his coming. He wanted to duplicate that first homecoming as precisely as possible because it was only then, for a moment, he could forget what waited for him on the island that spring morning; he could make himself believe it might have been different.

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Meet the Author

About the Author: Katherine Towler is also the author of 'Evening Ferry'. She lives in New Hampshire.

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Snow Island 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Peggy Mahoney More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for a story about life on the homefront during WWII. Instead, this is just a book about a young girl growing up. It is very predictable with an even more disappointing ending.
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theshippingnews More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot, which surprised me. It was recommended to me by a friend who classified as "chick lit." Which was her way of saying that she wasn't sure that I, as a man, would really get it. I suppose the truth is that it was jet well-written and the character were interesting and sympathetic. The only trouble I had with it was the ending. It seem to come bursting out of nowhere, as if the author had suddenly tired of writing the story or was up against a deadline. In spite of that, I really liked the book a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to finish this book. It was just getting interesting when the story ended. I would have liked more of WWII and the aftermath instead of the beginning. I was saddened by the ending also. It was a slow read and I had to read other books in between.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As a middle-aged man, I find I sometimes have a hard time connecting with teenaged girls as principal characters - just so far removed from my current stage of life. But it would be grossly oversimplifying to say that this book is just about a young girl coming of age. It has wonderfully rich characterizations of many different people at various stages of their life - including the island itself. A great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although Snow Island is a fiction novel, it can teach you about a person¿s life during world war two before the United States got involved. Katherine Towler writes this novel, Snow Island. The story takes place on a Island off the Eastern Coast, named Snow Island, during WW2. The story is about a sixteen-year-old girl and her family during the war, and how they survive without out her father or money, and operate a small store. Also, this book tells about the life of George Tibbits, a loner who has a past and present history on the Island. The author¿s vocabulary and subject is probably not suitable for children under fourteen years of age. Overall, I thought this book was excellent and downright well crafted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I thought this book was going to be like others I have read about a young girl growing up however, I soon found I was wrong. I loved the characters and the era of WWII history included. Well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has wonderful, interesting characters. It has an absorbing plot. It is about an interesting time in American history (as the US begins to get involved in WWII after Pearl Harbor). I tell you - buy it! Read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I also look forward to the sequel, this would make a great movie. The descriptions are worded so effortlessly, they glide into your eyes and you feel you are there too... Don't miss reading this. Parts of the book remind me of stories my mother has told me about that era and her parents. A much more simple life, when a cup of sugar and a gallon of gas were appreciated.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The care that has been taken with the writing of this novel is outstanding. The characters are unforgettable, the setting captivating, and the story one that will propel you eagerly forward. Towler draws you into the world of Snow Island at a pace that perfectly matches that of the island. Without pyrotechnics or fanfare, she seizes the reader's imagination and holds onto it, even after the final page has been turned. I hope the sequel is on its way because I long to return to Snow Island.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here's a novel that grows on you so slowly that it has almost enveloped you before you realize how powerful it is. Don't be lulled by the breezy ambiance of a forgotten summer island during the second World War. The war eventually envelops it -flowing to the deepest levels of the island and those who cherish it, much as it did Devon in 'A Separate Peace.' This is a serious read, but a very enjoyable and moving one with memorable charcters and an ending that keeps unfolding to unseen vistas and in beautifully unforseen ways- even to its final pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely,quiet romantic novel about a young girl who learns a lot about true love and the importance of family. The setting and characters are great. The theme of loneliness and the need for love is very moving.