SNOWED IN by Christina Bartolomeo
November 25, 2004
Here is a book that will be on my top 20 list for 2004. SNOWED IN by Christina Bartolomeo is one of those novels that will sneak up on you. You will fall in love with the main character, Sophie Quinn, while the book itself (at least for me) will be hard to forget. There aren't too many books that come around that I feel "special" about, and SNOWED IN is one of those few.
Sophie Quinn has been married to Paul Stoddard for a number of years, and now she finds herself living in the cold world of Portland, Maine, because of Paul's job relocation. He's very busy with work and she rarely sees him, and when he's home, he's not the same. She's noticed that the man she fell in love with does not exist anymore. She's lonely and feels trapped.
Sophie's days consist of dealing with the landlord, Donald, who she has a hard time confronting. Paul asks her to talk to Donald about their heater, and other things that are not working in their apartment, but she is not the confrontational type. But, October in Maine dictates the use of a heater, and with theirs not working at all and Sophie being homebound most of the day, she has to do something or she'll freeze to death.
One day Sophie meets Stephen, a gay man who happened to bang his leg (which was in a cast) against her stool at her favorite coffee house, Java Net. They strike up a conversation, something that Sophie does not do with strangers, and soon she has made a new friend. He invites her to join a walking group he belongs to, and so she courageously joins. Paul is ecstatic that she's found an interest outside her own work, which is doing pamphlets for various non-profit groups and helping a college friend create artwork for greeting cards.
Soon, Sophie is making new friends, and finds herself attracted in a platonic way to Ned, Stephen's brother. She's married and does not feel a need for a romantic interest outside the marriage, but as I continued reading, I felt that underneath everything, Sophie does not feel married at all. And therefore, because she did not feel married, she also felt subconsciously that she was not doing anything wrong by feeling somewhat attracted to Ned, confiding with him about almost everything, and becoming as close to him as she wished she were with her own husband.
Along with Ned, there is also an ex-boyfriend who was the love of her life, Rory. He also becomes a distraction, as she becomes further confused about her marriage and what she really wants out of a relationship.
Despite the heavy themes, the tone of the book is light. I found myself chuckling quite often while reading about Sophie's exploits. The book is witty and funny and I was quite amazed that I discovered such a gem of a book. The characters are all rather quirky, which adds to the charm of this book, and the author has a definite gift of story telling.
I am definitely recommending SNOWED IN, and am going to be hunting down her previous novels, CUPID AND DIANA and THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS.