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Snowed In: A Novel    by Christina Bartolomeo order for
Snowed In
by Christina Bartolomeo
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

When her new husband's job takes him to Portland, Maine just as winter is beginning, freelancer Sophie Quinn accompanies him, leaving family and friends behind in Washington DC. The novelty soon wears off as Sophie finds herself stuck inside a rundown, freezing apartment day after day. At the same time, Paul gets busily involved with work and colleagues and becomes daily more impatient with his wife's growing lassitude.

A chance meeting with a house renovator inspires Sophie to join his walking group, where she meets perceptive Ned. As the walks progress, Sophie gradually comes to appreciate Portland - its bleak beauty, taciturn denizens and all. She learns to drive and begins to feel closer to the group (especially Ned) than to her husband. The latter grows increasingly distant as his attention is captured by a graceful colleague who is Sophie's antithesis. When an ex-boyfriend re-enters Sophie's already turbulent life, things get very complicated indeed. How it's all resolved makes up the rest of this deceptively light story.

Christina Bartolomeo's novel is at first slow moving and like its heroine's first view of the Maine winter, seems chilly and lifeless. Sophie's lack of initiative is as irritating to readers as it is to her husband. But those who stick with it will see turbulent undercurrents seething just beneath the placid surface of both story and protagonist. Bartolomeo introduces more drama, more tension and many more dilemmas with each consecutive chapter. Sophie's introspection is key to the story, and side characters are both interesting and complex. Portland, and Maine in general, come to life under the author's competent pen.

Snowed In is a charming and intriguing story that offers readers fodder for intellectual stimulation as well as pure entertainment.

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