This is the kind of book where you can smell and hear and see the fictional world the writer has created, so palpably does the atmosphere come through. Set on an island in the straits north of Puget Sound, in Washington, where everyone is either a fisherman or a berry farmer, the story is nominally about a murder trial. But since it's set in the 1950s, lingering memories of World War II, internment camps and racism helps fuel suspicion of a Japanese-American fisherman, a lifelong resident of the islands. It's a great story, but the primary pleasure of the book is Guterson's renderings of the people and the place.
Snow falling read like a culture clash wrapped around a courtroom drama, but both qualifiers seem too gentle. The cultures at war, literally during the war years after Pearl Harbor, are the rockbound Pacific Northwest fishing and farming culture, and the tradition bound Japanese-American service (and servile?) cultures on an island off the Washington coast in the middle of the 20th century. The courtroom drama is between the local law enforcement (and its broader Anglo establishment) … more
It seems that Guterson has several types of readers for this novel. There are those who come to it for the sake of the place. (And what a beautiful place it is.) There are those who come to it for the sake of the period in history. (And what a wrenching, fear-driven time it was....) And there are those, like me, who come for the weaving of the tale. The story is masterfully told, and I absolutely loved rain as a motif in this novel. It's a book that made me question whether I could ever be a novelist; … more