Synopses & Reviews
Just after midnight in a small town in Wisconsin, eight women begin walking together down a rural highway. Career women, housewives, mothers, divorcées, and one ex-prom queen, they are close friends who have been meeting every Thursday night for years, sharing food, wine, and their deepest secrets. But on this particular Thursday, Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne, and Janice decide to disappear from their own lives.
Their spontaneous pilgrimage attracts national attention and inspires other women from all across the country. As the miles fall away and the women forge ahead on their backroads odyssey leaving small miracles in their wake each of their histories unfolds, tales of shattered dreams and unexpected renewal, of thwarted love affairs and precious second chances.In luminous, heartwarming prose, Kris Radish deftly interweaves the women's intimate confessions into the story of their brave, history-making walk.
A breathtaking achievement, The Elegant Gathering of White Snows tells an incomparable tale of friendship and love, loss and liberation.
"A rallying cry for the empowerment of women, Radish's novel is also a celebration of the strong bond that exists between female friends." Booklist
I wish I could buy a copy for every woman I've ever met." Book Sense
Just after midnight in a small town, eight women begin walking together down a rural highway. But on this particular Thursday, they decide to disappear from their own lives. A breathtaking achievement, Radish tells an incomparable tale of friendship and love, loss, and liberation.
About the Author
Kris Radish is the author of seven books. Her Bantam novels, The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, Annie Freemans Fabulous Traveling Funeral, The Sunday List of Dreams,
and Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA,
have been on bestseller and Book Sense 76 Selection lists.
She travels frequently throughout the country speaking about womens issues, the value of female friendships, and the importance of personal empowerment, as well as the necessity for laughter, a terrific glass of wine, lying quietly in the summer grass, embracing kindness, following the path in your own heart and no one elses, and having fun at almost all costs.
Kris lives in Wisconsin with her partner. She is joined occasionally by a college-age son and daughter—who appear when its time to wash clothes or eat a regular meal—and is happily cruising through life on her Yamaha 1200 Classic VStar, her Trek bicycle, a treadmill, a pair of orange-laced walking shoes, and with gallons of calcium and about a hundred notebooks for her novel, short-story, poetry, and journalism ideas.
She is also working on her sixth novel, The Shortest Distance Between Two Women, which Bantam will publish in 2009.
Reading Group Guide
1. What is the source of healing among the Elegant Gathering
women? Why is it so essential for them to gather without men present? What are some of the distinctions you perceive between all-male gatherings and all-female ones?
2. Why do you suppose the eight women chose to take a walk—an active, visible pursuit—rather than go on retreat? Where would you go if you decided to embark on a spontaneous pilgrimage
3. The primary source of Alices sorrow is the death of her newborn daughter, who was born with “a hole in her heart.” What prevents Alice from fully coping with the subsequent emptiness in her own heart?
4. Does J.J.s experience represent a shift in attitudes regarding sexual violence against women? Do you think J.J. would have fared better in one of todays high schools?
5. What does Chriss career crisis illustrate about the contradictions experienced by women who joined the ranks of wage earners during the 1970s?
6. Sandys story illustrates the bliss of love and the bitter pain of loss. Besides introducing her to Lenny, what gifts does this walk bring to Sandy?
7. Gail carries the emotional scars of her fathers sudden departure when she was a little girl. When her mother rejects Gails beloved brother, Gail has to redefine family to fit the fragile bonds left to her. In what way does this situation shape her own future as a woman?
8. Susan, whose shattered glass opens the novel, faces numerous other shattering experiences in the form of a terrible marriage and, ultimately, the decision of whether to terminate her pregnancy. How would you have put the pieces together again had you been in her situation?
9. Marys feelings of obligation keep her from completing the walk with the others, but she plays an important role as their liaison with the outside world. How would you characterize her role? Do you consider it to be uplifting, bittersweet, sad?
10. What universal lessons can be gained from the way Janice confronts her depression? To what do you attribute her survival?
11. Do you believe that behavioral differences between genders are due to nature or nurture? What are the causes of sexism, against men as well as women? Discuss solutions—both realistic ones and long shots—for resolving the kinds of emotional pain brought to light by The Elegant Gathering of White Snows.
12. If you had walked with the Elegant Gathering women, what burdens from your life would you have wanted to relinquish?
13. Gail makes a poignant fireside observation: “You know, we are the only ones who have been looking for ourselves.” Is this process of self-discovery ultimately a solitary one?
14. Gail makes a poignant fireside observation: “You know, we are the only ones who have been looking for ourselves.” Is this process of self-discovery ultimately a solitary one?
15. The novel is sprinkled with news releases about the Women Walkers activities. Try composing your own news release describing a liberating activity you sometimes imagine undertaking.
16. What new definitions of sexuality and love did you gain from the novel?
17. Many additional characters are introduced through the Women Walker Effect. Which of these stories was most memorable for you? In what way do the media, and storytelling in general, sustain women worldwide?
18. Did you experience the Women Walker Effect while reading the novel? If so, what are some of the new directions you will embark on as a result?
The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Kris Radishs The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. We hope they will enrich your experience of this inspiring novel.