Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks [5/10]

Sebastian Faulks’s fifteenth novel, “Snow Country,” is like Wedgewood china, all poise and no life. Set mainly in Vienna and an Austrian psychiatric clinic in the mountains, and ranging from just before the hell of World War I up until just before World War II, the novel revolves around two characters, Anton, a young man determined to become a journalist, and Lena, dirt-poor and isolated in a rural village. Anton finds and loses love, Lena lurches from disaster to disaster until she ends up employed at the psych clinic, where, as we expected, she eventually meets Anton. Faulks is a wonderful stylist, able to evoke the times and the places, and the novel hums with ideas, both intellectual and poetic, but Snow Country offers a staccato plot with little tension. This reader found Lena to be a poorly scoped character, inconsistent and even silly, and although Anton looms more realistically off the page, there is little drama to his story. Overall, I estimate I have read a third of the author’s prodigious output, and Snow Country is the only one to have disappointed me.

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