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Can a nearly 100-year-old woman still have time for a final adventure? And if so, what kind of last hurrah could she possibly have?
A blizzard rages outside Elinor Montoya’s window. Watching it from the comfort of the home that she has lived in for her entire life, she feels neither frightened nor lonely. She has her memories to keep her company.
As the snow falls, Elinor recalls the years that have passed so quickly. She considers the mother who died giving her life, the doting father who was called from her just when she expected they would have more time together, and the cousin who she’s held closer than a sister for nearly a century.
Elinor revisits, through letters and in her mind, the chapters of her life that are as varied as the snow that drifts to the ground outside her window. She thinks of her husband, who went off to War and returned a changed man. She thinks of the truest joy in her life, her son Jamie.
She wonders if, on such a bleak, snowy day, there isn’t time for her to have one final adventure…just one last little thrill before moving on to what surely can’t be too far in her future.
Snowdance is the story of a life well lived, and the possibilities that are open to us every day of our lives, if we only open ourselves to seeing them. Elinor Montoya? She sees.
Elinor Montoya watched with rapt attention as the snow fell outside the wavery pane of glass. It showed no signs of letting up, not for hours—if ever. It fell steadily, silently and gently. Whiteness on a mission to cover the world. Her world, at any rate.
She saw the accumulating flakes, and a glow of satisfaction filled her. Perfect. A real, old-fashioned snowstorm. Just like the ones we used to get when I was a child.
The furnace rumbled to life, sending small tremors through the floorboards. Elinor smiled as the warm air whooshed out of the register near her feet. Pushing her slipper-encased toes closer to the heat, she sighed. Small comforts, that’s all I have left.
“My old bones thank you for the heat, Booker.” Her voice didn’t creak or scratch; it was strong and sure, as steady and dependable as the snow or the furnace. She didn’t worry about bothering anyone when she spoke aloud. Her words were a secret she shared only with the house. There was no one to hear, no one to disturb. She was alone. “You’ve never failed me, old buddy. Kept me warm all these long years, and I’m grateful.” Her fingers tightened, wrapping a faded green flannel quilt more securely around her thin shoulders.
It seemed that no matter how high she turned the dial on the furnace, Elinor was still constantly chilled—but from the inside. It seemed as if she had no internal fire left in her, no way to heat herself up save for the warmth generated by her heart and mind, and the memories she kept locked away. And Booker, always Booker.
Chilled to the bones, Aunt Millie used to say. Elinor didn’t know about any bone-chilling, but knew the freeze that came from deep within her was now a constant companion. But no sense dwelling on what couldn’t be changed, she’d always felt. Besides, did it really matter why she was cold? As long as she had Booker to keep her company she’d never be fully frozen—she hoped. Shifting her feet yet again, Elinor chuckled. Bad circulation, probably.
The big furnace soldiered on and on. The man who had installed it, Crane Booker, had long passed. He had spent one whole summer five decades earlier building the furnace from little more than a pile of scrap metal. He had had a brainstorm, and it had been a good one. Crane’s vision had done its job well.
The old oak rocker squeaked as she rocked. The chair had made the noise for so long that Elinor didn’t take any notice of it. The screech had become as natural to her as the beating of her own heart. She was barely conscious of the motion of the old chair, if the truth be known. Elinor had spent so many years rocking, beating and squeaking in the spot near the window, that the entire process now took place without any thought or effort on her part.
At ninety-seven, she had spent her entire life in her tidy home in the hills, surrounded by trees, birds and all the joys that came with living in a small town. This life, so closely connected to the seasons and the people nearby, was the only one she knew. The only one she suspected she’d ever know. After all, how much more of it—this life—could be left to her at this point?
It hadn’t ever seemed necessary to venture further than the state capitol, just a bit over one hundred miles away. Never feeling she had missed any of the big world she knew was out there somewhere, Elinor had been content to spend her days in the family home. She considered the familiar walls, treasured sights and sounds outside her window, and the memories she held close to be one of her last blessings. Yes, they were a comfort to her in what must surely be her final days.
"Every aspect of this book is first rate. This is a story where the characters are so real they enter the reader's heart. Turning the pages, I wanted to know what would happen next, and why. In short, I cared. A lot. So many books don't encourage that kind of connection or interaction. It is refreshing to see it here. The plot moves along steadily, pulling the reader deeper into Elinor's memories. In part of this book, old letters are used to tell the story. This plot device is fitting to this story and worked very well. I could see Elinor reading letters from the battlefield, and could hear the cries of war, as well. This book ends with a twist-one that is bittersweet and perfect for the story.
I can't think of one solitary thing I didn't love about this book. Snowdance consumed me from the very first page. I couldn't put it down and read the whole book one sitting, just because I couldn't get my fill for knowing more about Elinor's life satisfied quickly enough. Who would have guessed an old woman's story could be so charming? It is, I promise you that. I laughed and cried, and just honestly loved every page. Sarita Leone is a talented writer, one who has gained a fan in this reviewer. Snowdance is her debut novel. I can't wait to see what comes next! Whatever it is, it's sure to be entertaining. Snowdance is a definite keeper!" - Rating: 5 out of 5 Reviewed by Amy, Gottawritenetwork.com
"Snowdance needs no artifice, no extra window dressing to make it a knockout.
The series of tales that carry the reader through Elinor’s birth to the day of the story are wonderful, endearing glimpses into an American life. Not all the memories this old woman has are happy. Some are painful and there are things in her life that are definite obstacles that she had overcome. Elinor’s fortitude and intelligence are commendable, and along with the love she so freely showers on those around her, make her a remarkable woman. She is a character that comes to life, and the reader is pulled right into her extraordinary world. Using vivid images, with a rhythm that is almost soothing in its steadiness, Ms. Leone weaves a tale of love, bravery and personal integrity that is compelling. Snowdance is an enchanting story. Bravo, Ms.
Leone, for an outstanding read!" 5 Angels and a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommneded Read, Reviewed by: Carly
"While reading Snowdance, I often found myself to be smiling. This book made me relax. Elinor is a woman that I would have loved to meet in real life, she is very nice and the sort of woman I admire. Sarita Leone knows how to write, she touches you straight in the heart with this story." – Reviewed by Annick, Euro-Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 204
Paper Weight (lb): 8.8