Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Review of Alice Hoffman's "The Ice Queen"

Fond as I am of portrayals of librarians in popular culture, I was delighted to find a copy of Alice Hoffman's new novel The Ice Queen under the Christmas tree. Hoffman's story has the feel of an old fairytale, the ice maiden planted in a Florida local library, the victim of a lightning strike with a dark secret to boot. The story is a good one, if not truly gripping - for most of the book I felt no real empathy for the heroine, but then as she's the ice queen maybe that's the point.

Hoffman's use of the library as "a career where silence would be an asset" is a little cliched, but it's interesting that she explores the darker side of library life. The unnamed protagonist is obsessed with death, and researches it fanatically. I'm not saying all librarians are secret goths but when part of every day is spent updating the intranet with Iraq casualties and Middle East suicide bombs it's sometimes hard to stay chirpy. And of course it's not often we see a librarian as the central character in a novel (as the Guardian's reviewer points out, ours is an "honourable occupation which in fiction indicates a less than successful existence"). Worth sticking with to the heartbreaking end - buy it here.

Read Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen to see how it compares, or rediscover the more sinister fairytales of the Brothers Grimm.


Anonymous said...

Have you read The Archivist? That is also a compelling portrayal of library life.

Anonymous said...

No, but I'll be sure to dig it out and take a look.

Anonymous said...

top [url=http://www.c-online-casino.co.uk/]uk casino bonus[/url] check the latest [url=http://www.casinolasvegass.com/]casino bonus[/url] manumitted no deposit bonus at the foremost [url=http://www.baywatchcasino.com/]baywatch casino