Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Eowyn Iwey's The Snow Child

Great news yesterday: Eowyn Iwey will come to Moffat on Feb 18 2012 at 5pm to talk about her predicted (including by Oprah Winfrey) best-selling The Snow Child, set in 1920's Alaska. Described as 'mystical and magical', the book was inspired by a Russian fairy tale about a child made of snow - snegurochka - that comes to life. The book's publication date has been brought forward so that copies will be available by the time Eowyn gets to the UK. I can't wait to read it. The fact that it is set in hard times reminds me of the narrative of Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I which I re-read recently after an interval of 50 years. Until I re-read it, I had forgotten that it is a brave take on an extremely tough experience, MacDonald's early married days (the marriage failed, but that doesn't come into the book), carving out a farm inland from the northwest Pacific coast. I had to look up the spelling of 'MacDonald' - Scottish surnames and first names for that matter are a minefield and people really mind (well, why shouldn't they) whether they spell it Alistair, Alasdair, Alisdair etc or Mcdonald, MacDonald etc. The excellent online journal, the Scottish Review, has been publicising the mis-spelling of some of the poets' names eg Hugh McDiarmid,on a plaque outside the famous pub in Rose St, Edinburgh where they used to gather. Worse still, a quotation carved in stone on the Scottish Parliament attributed to McDiarmid is actually by someone else, quoted by McDiarmid. Spelling is one thing, pronunciation another. How does one pronounce 'Eowyn'? Time will tell. I was saddled before I married Mr Roberts with an unpronounceable double-barreled surname 'Gough-Cooper' which also requires a decision: to hyphenate or not to hyphenate? Some people pronounced it 'Guff' some 'Goff'. On a visit to a prospective prep school, my father who was tall and distinguished-looking could not understand why he was being treated with the deference and general bowing and scraping usually reserved for royalty, until it transpired that the person showing him round had thought he was Duff Cooper, at that time our ambassador to Paris and married to Lady Diana, reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. For readers of a recent MBE posting: she was known as 'Lady Diana Cooper' (nee Manners) because she was the daughter of a duke or an earl, Rutland I think.

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