Book Keeping: A Reader's Community

Michael Cunningham

SnowQueen

Questions and topics for discussion for The Snow Queen, a darkly luminous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours.

TheHours

She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. Another war has begun. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa. She walks purposefully toward the river, certain of what she’ll do…

SnowQueen_Cunningham

A celestial light appeared to Barrett Meeks in the sky over Central Park, four days after Barrett had been mauled, once again, by love.

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Richard was the person Clarissa loved at her most optimistic moment. Richard had stood beside her at the ponds edge at dusk, wearing cut-off jeans and rubber sandals. Richard had called her Mrs. Dalloway, and they had kissed. His mouth had opened to hers; (exciting and utterly familiar, she’d never forget it) had worked its way shyly inside until she met its own. They’d kissed and walked around the pond together.

It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk. The anticipation of dinner and a book. The dinner is by now forgotten; Lessing has been long overshadowed by other writers. What lives undimmed in Clarissa’s mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it’s perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.

-Michael Cunningham, The Hours