I’ve been asked by a couple of reading groups for questions about Snegurochka, so thought I’d post a few here. If you use them with your group, I’d love to hear about it.
- Snegurochka depicts a young mother’s isolation in an unfamiliar place. What did you make of her difficulties? Are there any other kinds of ‘mothering’ in the novel?
- The past is a constant theme in Snegurochka. Scenes from Rachel’s earlier life play out in short, discrete, non-chronological sections. How do these sections affect the way you view Rachel?
- Snegurochka is written in the present tense. How does this influence your perception of events?
- For much of the novel, Rachel is relatively passive, observing the characters and the city around her. Is she in any way responsible for what unfolds?
- The main characters are all flawed in some way. What do you think happens to Elena at the end and does knowing this matter to you?
- Aspects of Ukraine’s past are hinted at, sometimes rather elliptically. The great famine, the purges, the Second World War, Soviet repression and the disaster at Chernobyl are all referenced in the novel. What did you make of the novel’s treatment of this historical ‘backdrop’?
- Snegurochka means ‘snow maiden’. In nineteenth-century tales she was the child made of snow who melts in the spring. Then, in Soviet times, she became Grandfather Frost’s granddaughter who dispenses gifts at New Year and whose popularity is undiminished in post-Soviet Ukraine. Why do you think Snegurochka was chosen as the title for the novel?
- To what extent is Kiev a character in the novel?