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The Fallen Snow Paperback – 19 Dec 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Cabin Press (19 Dec. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988414805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988414808
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John J Kelley is a fiction writer crafting tales about healing, growth and community. Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, he graduated from Virginia Tech and for a time served as a military officer. Today John lives with his partner in Washington, DC, where he can often be found wandering Rock Creek Park when not hovering over his laptop at a nearby coffee shop.

John's debut novel recounts the struggle of a young WWI sniper returning to a Virginia community reeling from war, influenza and economic collapse. The Fallen Snow received a Publishers Weekly starred review and earned an Honorable Mention nod at the 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book-of-the-Year Awards. For more information on The Fallen Snow, please visit the novel website at www.thefallensnow.com.

Product Description

Review

"from the heart, honestly and without frills . . . a timeless tale"
★★★★★ - Foreword Clarion Reviews

_______________________

"They'd want the old Joshua. It's what they'd expect," a soldier returning from the First World War sighs as he makes his way back home to a small town in the mountains of Virginia. Like so many returning from so many wars, Joshua is not whole, in body or in spirit. He is one of those, as his sergeant warned, for whom the war "will leave scars that never heal."Just how deep those scars run is the mystery woven into John J Kelley's touching period novel about a veteran seeking to deal with memories of his service. Half of the story is told in flashback . . . (though) there is more to The Fallen Snow than a wounded combat veteran haunted by the horrors of war, mourning for lost comrades, or suffering survivor's guilt. These emotions are part of the fabric that makes up the main character's personality and story, but Kelley's stricken hero, Joshua Hunter, holds within his heart yet another secret: The memory of a forbidden love that few in his native Appalachian town would suspect, let alone understand or accept.Kelley's characters are introspective, and when they speak it is from the heart, honestly and without frills . . . . The real story here is about a soldier trying to come back to a place where he no longer fits in, and about the family and friends who only slowly come to realize that he is no longer "the old Joshua." Although The Fallen Snow is in part a tale of romantic love between two men, it is also in many ways a timeless tale of men changed by war . . . .

March 4, 2013
★★★★★ - Foreword Clarion Reviews

From the Author

Moments in Life
Dreaming, Discovering and Drafting The Fallen Snow

I remember the moment nearly thirty years ago that led me on the journey to write this novel. I was eighteen years old, a freshman cadet at Virginia Tech. It was late winter, and I'd been tapped to join a military society. At the risk of revealing secret rituals, one pledge task involved a run up a mountain in the dead of night, lugging a backpack of bricks and an old infantry rifle, its barrel plugged. The evening of our run was frigid, with the temperature hovering just above freezing.

And it was pouring rain.

Forecasts in the preceding days had indicated the rain would turn to snow, but it never did. And though we had at first braved the elements together, my pledge buds and I began to drift, each finding a pace suited to our individual capabilities. A couple of faster young men pulled ahead, while I settled into a rhythm somewhere near the front of the pack.

After a time I found myself alone on the mountain. I was drenched, chilled to the bone and aching. Yet I found the adventure intoxicating, even mystical. At that age when everything seems possible, with extra energy available on demand, I reveled in the sensations of a wet winter's eve. Following in the footsteps of cadets who'd faced the mountain over the years, I felt a connection. I contemplated what it would have been like for them, their experiences and lives. It was a matter I weighed often in those days, as the new cadet training was in large part about instilling the values and wisdom of prior generations, those who'd sacrificed so much.

Over the years the seeds planted that night remained with me, at times near the surface and at times buried for months, or years. It wasn't until I began writing seriously that the ideas finally took shape in this, my debut novel.

Without giving away too many details, I will offer this. To me The Fallen Snow has always been about key moments in a person's life. A moment when you see who you are. Moments when you realize you're in love. Or scared. Or flawed. Even mortal. For a time I felt the novel was about finding home, and it is . . . partly. After reviewing an early draft, a wise friend said she thought it was about all the ways people can love. The description flattered me. Yet the more I consider her comments, the more I tend to agree. The tale is also about a young man coming out, though that modern term would never have crossed his mind. Still, I never saw that as being the whole of the tale. In my view the story was always larger than that.

So I think I'll stick with saying that, to me, The Fallen Snow is about moments . . . moments in life.

If you've read the tale, I would welcome hearing your thoughts. If you haven't read it, I hope that you will and that you enjoy it. And if you do enjoy it, I hope you'll recommend it to others.

Sincerely,
John             

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I got this book as a giveaway from the author. I had applied for it as it looked interesting and different. I did not realise what a treat had come my way. Once I picked it up I could not put it down. It gripped me from the start. The main character Joshua is developed from the start and becomes more rounded and attractive as the book goes on. The horrors of war are touched on but not allowed to overwhelm the main story which centres around Joshua and how he finds himself within all that is going on around him. Other characters are well drawn and believable. The changes that occur within Joshua are shown in the context of the whole. Although in parts it is sad I found it very touching and fulfilling and the end was not sad but life affirming. Not perhaps a story for everyone but it touched something deep in me and is a book I will never forget. It should be regarded as a classic. The author states he would wish this book to reach a larger audience - I will be passing it on for sharing and intend to get a Kindle version to keep myself. I will look forward to further books from this author.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is very well written. The author richly draws his characters & settings but with the minimum of words - a true talent. But to be honest, the story is too sad for my taste and left me with a bout of the blues. Various characters, not just Joshua, have to come to terms with loss and learn how to cope and move on. They do find the strength to cope but they don't find happiness.
I don't advise you to read this if you're already in low spirits.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 76 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Impressive First Novel 5 Feb. 2013
By Scholar-Gipsy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Near the close of this impressive first novel, the narrator says this about Elisabeth Hunter and her son Josh--a son returned from the battlefields of World War I to rural Virginia, wounded physically and psychologically, now living in an alien New York City: "She was curious how he was getting on, and imagined there were things he'd never share. She was fine with that. It was possible to love him without fully understanding. Wasn't it like that with anyone for whom you cared deeply?" To me, those words express the complexities, and surely the truths, of a novel that details the growth of a young man facing circles of enclosure--a marriage with the expectation of children, a formidable future mother-in-law, a career in the local business--but finds himself not only in armed combat on a foreign field but also in love. The book is not another innocents abroad one, although it shares characteristics of that American fiction theme. What sets it apart from that theme is more significant than what it adds, richly so, to that familiar theme. That is, Kelley shows a young man, even before he experiences Europe in wartime, of introspection and, yes, even moodiness, a young man struggling with "things he'd never share"--or never wish to share with mother, father, even his future wife. Ultimately, like snow that covers but eventually disappears, he shares not only secrets but shares himself with another. I agree with the reviewer who described the novel as more a love story than a war story, even if it is a mortal struggle--for that is what war is--that resolves the struggle within Josh himself. This is a wonderful first novel and one that I am happy to recommend.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Beyond War 9 Jan. 2013
By aklittlebird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I was a bit apprehensive about reading The Fallen Snow because it is a war story. Or so I thought. Yes, the book has battle scenes of different sorts, and we see the heartache of loss that comes with being a soldier. We feel the impact of war, and we watch innocence stolen from those closest to the action. The changes would be hard to bear, if they were all tragic. All too often in war movies and stories, authors choose to focus on the devastation, perhaps in trying to make the point that the cost of war is so incredibly high. John J Kelley does not let us forget that war is hell, especially WWI, which took so many lives, but he goes beyond that well-told story. Kelley deftly reveals the opportunity that is borne from great challenge. He shows that sometimes in the bleakness, men and women discover an authentic self, a truth they carry--one they may not have known they had inside. What I appreciate most about this novel is that the characters are real: human and flawed, but so very capable. I believe Kelley gives away his view of humanity in this novel. He believes we are good; we can come from our highest and truest knowing. And love triumphs all. Because in the end, this isn't a war story at all. It is a love story. And I adore a good love story.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Fallen Snow, a beautiful painting of love, in all of its forms 21 Feb. 2013
By Dave Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am no where near articulate to explain to you how much I LOVED this book.
Before I go into the story itself, I must make note of how the voice of this novel is so spot on to the time period in which it is set. Kelly takes great pains in insuring that all of his words ring true, to not only setting, but, character as well. When Elizabeth speaks, you will never confuse her with Mrs. Dalton. They each have their own view point and their own voice. This is something that few authors seem to pay attention to, yet, Kelly makes it a hallmark of his first novel.

As for the actual narrative, the depth of understanding of what a torture finding love would be like for two men in the early 20th century is remarkable: the passion of a fleeting touch, the meaning of an simple hand on the back, or just a glance to say all those things that dare not be spoken aloud. Also, by avoiding the words gay or homosexual or any other synonym for that matter, the author shows the universal nature of love, making the gender of the characters almost mute.

It is such an unusual love story, too, in that it is not only about the beautifully powerful relationship between the main characters, but, so many other loves; mother and father, dad and son, friendships, family, the many different shapes that this most precious of emotions can take. Even the exploration of the love of two brothers, Scott and Joshua, is so eloquently written, one cannot help feel its pull. Then in true simple elegance, all of these stories are wrapped up under a beautiful blanket of fresh fallen snow.

To be totally redundant, I highly recommend buying this novel.
Actually, I recommend purchasing two...one to keep and one to share.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Provocative Theme, Shaky Execution 19 May 2013
By Lycotheia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book's topic is fresh, relatively untreated (there is, of course, Pat Barker's excellent Regeneration trilogy from a few years back), and ripe for literary construction. I think the author's story-line is fascinating, and the book's template, inter-spliced with flashbacks that parallel the stories of Joshua's life in Virginia and his life on the Western Front is a fantastic idea. However, I found myself skimming through the Virginia half of the narrative to find the flashback scenes by the time I reached p. 100. Unfortunately, the author seems to have taken on more than the size of the text can support. He endeavors to produce a tangential storyline about the relationship between Joshua's parents, but gives us only dribs and drabs and makes no attempt to connect it to any larger framework. Is the book about the difficult return of a soldier suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, or about his mother's struggle to maintain her family despite an ailing and recalcitrant husband? Further, the notion of finding beauty in the proverbial "now" and, in one scene, "the fallen snow," whence hails the title, is not perpetuated anywhere else in the text, and does not serve as an effective thematic link.

In addition, a number of the scenes seemed out of place or excessive, adding nothing to the plot or the development of different characters. There is a particularly long scene between Katie and Joshua's parents, mostly dialogue, that seems to serve no real purpose and might well have been summarized in under a page. Some of the club scenes in Paris seem overly-emotional and nearly cliched, and many linger long past any point of recognizable use.

I think my greatest issue with the book is the one-eighty Elizabeth pulls after she finds out about her son's affair in France. It's impossible to say that no mother would ever come around that quickly, but given the author's build-up of her character as one religiously-driven and set in her ways, the notion that she would digest and accept her son's love for another man within such a short time strikes me as slightly less than plausible. The discovery scene I thought was right on target, and I loved the subtle presence of the St. Christopher medal throughout--it was the denouement that faltered for me.

That said, there is significant and creative development of the main character and, despite comparatively little "page time," Aiden's personality is distinctly drawn and presented with great clarity. In addition, the glimpses the author provides into Parisian nightlife and the gay sub-culture seems on par with George Chauncey's findings, indicating a level of considerate research.

The book is worth reading, by my count, because of its largely unplumbed topoi (both World War One trauma and the experiences of gay men in the military of that period) and because the characters that do spring to life are compelling and unique individuals.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Deeply Engaging First Novel 21 Feb. 2013
By Tony - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Kelley's novel richly describes a young soldier's return home to Virginia after serving on the battlefields of France during WWI. The soldier's life is forever altered by the tragedies of war, and by a relationship that is beautiful in its subtlety. While the descriptions of the French countryside and wartime Paris are good, one of the novel's greatest strengths is the way it brings to life the forests and highlands of western Virginia and the characters who call the area home. There are histories within histories in this novel. Fans of historical fiction, or those who just appreciate good storytelling, should read this promising new author.
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