Top critical review
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on 23 January 2013
As someone who lived through the Big Snow, was snowed in as far as transport was concerned for a fortnight, whose father with others visited two areas (which the book says were totally isolated for weeks) to check on the wellbeing of the residents, (as did several others whom I know personally), and as I have written a number of published articles on the subject which are quoted in the book, I was disappointed by what I read.
Kevin Kearns went through newspaper reports from the local and national press and other publications, gleaned reports and then wove stories around them which gives the impression that they were eye witness and descriptive accounts of actual personal experiences. Newspapers tend to sensationalise the extraordinary and not report or comment on less dramatic day to day living and so portray a biased view of the situation overall. Yes, it was a big freeze but we had coping skills and a community spirit which we have since lost.
People's lives and way of living were very different in 1947 and trying to reconstruct situations for the purposes of narrative through the eyes and experience of a researcher in 2010 can give a false impression of what people felt at the time. For instance, in 1947 during the snow, I snared, skinned and gutted rabbits which we cooked and ate. If that had been in the book it would give the impression that we were starving but that was the norm for me and my neighbours throughout the year at the time.
The narrative in the book jumps backward and forward from incident to incident. I would have preferred each situation to be covered fully rather than a number of situations with no connection being intertwined in the one chapter.
In short, I consider this book to be more of a historical novel based on fact rather than a work of genuine, on the ground research to produce a record for posterity.