glaciers“Isabel often thinks of Amsterdam, though she has never been there, and probably will never go.”

Some stories take place over extensive periods of time. Some, however, need just one day. Glaciers is such a book, detailing a day in the life of Isabel, a small-town girl from the frozen heart of Alaska.

These are the events of a single day in her quiet, easy life, in which she goes to work, goes shopping, has lunch and attends a party. In that time, she discovers that the man she has fallen for at work, Spoke, has been called back into military service and will be leaving her small team at the library the next day. With just hours left with him, she is determined to do something, although she may not be sure what.

Set against the backdrop of melancholic memories, and bittersweet thoughts of times gone by, the reader is taken by the hand and led into Isabel’s inner thoughts and a story of longing. She is a young woman obsessed with old things, enjoying vintage clothes and holding on tight to photographs and letters from people she never knew. A pivotal scene involves her trying on a vintage dress, and is described in such simplistic beauty that even I fell in love with it.

Some authors write books like oil paintings, others like pop art, and then there’s Stephanie Meyer who does potato printing. Smith, however, has managed to produce a watercolour with delicate brushstrokes and intelligent language that means not a single word is wasted in the short book. It’s worth taking an afternoon out to breeze through this sweet novella and while, in all honesty, I’ll probably have forgotten much about it in a year’s time, it definitely has a wonderful charm.