The Ice House

The Ice House

From a writer who's been praised for her "intelligence, heart, wit" (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls), The Ice House follows the beleaguered MacKinnons as they weather the possible loss of the family business, a serious medical diagnosis, and the slings and arrows of familial discord.Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The...

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Title:The Ice House
Author:Laura Lee Smith
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The Ice House Reviews

  • Joy D

    Adult contemporary fiction about forgiveness, courage, and redemption disguised as a family drama about a couple who owns an ice factory. Contains one of the most well-drawn set of characters in a book I’ve read this year. One of the secondary characters, Chemal, is among my all-time favorites. Even the dog had a unique personality.

    The story revolves around the factory owners, who are currently facing impending brain surgery and business-ending OSHA fines. In addition, difficult family relation

    Adult contemporary fiction about forgiveness, courage, and redemption disguised as a family drama about a couple who owns an ice factory. Contains one of the most well-drawn set of characters in a book I’ve read this year. One of the secondary characters, Chemal, is among my all-time favorites. Even the dog had a unique personality.

    The story revolves around the factory owners, who are currently facing impending brain surgery and business-ending OSHA fines. In addition, difficult family relationships abound, such as a father with dementia and an adult son recovering from heroin addiction. The author transports the reader to both Jacksonville, Florida, and Loch Linnhe, Scotland, through her articulate descriptions. The author’ writing style enables the plot to flow seamlessly, and her use of imagery brings the scenes to life. I highly recommended this book to those who enjoy well-drawn characters and stories of family relationships. Also recommended to book clubs and those who appreciate intelligent fiction.

    I received an advance copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a candid review. This book will be released December 5, 2017.

  • Tooter

    I've read more 5 star books this year than any other. Love it!

  • Korynne

    Caution: For erudite audiences only.

    That was seriously my first reaction to this book once I finished it. There are so many sesquipedalian words in this book that I had to read it with a dictionary on hand to look up new words every few pages. At first, I thought that the author is very intelligent and has a large lexicon, but when the book ended and I counted 91 words that I needed to define, I decided that Smith probably wrote this book with heavy assistance from a thesaurus. The "thesaurus w

    Caution: For erudite audiences only.

    That was seriously my first reaction to this book once I finished it. There are so many sesquipedalian words in this book that I had to read it with a dictionary on hand to look up new words every few pages. At first, I thought that the author is very intelligent and has a large lexicon, but when the book ended and I counted 91 words that I needed to define, I decided that Smith probably wrote this book with heavy assistance from a thesaurus. The "thesaurus writing" was severe for the first quarter of the book, but it mellowed out after that. Although, I still did really enjoy the writing style in this book and the fact that it challenged me intellectually with all the new words. The way she writes had me engrossed in the story. There were times where the story took a tangent for half a chapter, but I didn't even notice because the way she described the small town of Little Silver and the maintenance of the machines in the ice house had me enthralled and I was seriously interested in what was happening, even if it wasn't pertinent to the plot.

    After having had to look up a lot of words, I realized that there were quite a few regional Scottish words, but there were also quite a few words specific to North American dialects. This led me to two conclusions: the American author is writing about a Scottish man and therefore attempts to include Scottish words to give credence to the story, but she still uses American-specific words because she is American; or, the Scottish man in the story has lived in America for many years and has picked up dialects from both countries and therefore the author uses words from both countries for his character. I am not sure which of these theories is true, if either, but it was just something that I noticed while reading.

    At first, I didn't really want to read this book (I can't remember why I requested it in the first place), but once I reluctantly started I couldn't get enough. The author's style pulled me right in, as did the plot. Not to mention the unique setting. I've never read nor heard of another book that's set in an ice factory. And I actually learned a lot about that business while reading this novel. I think

    was thoroughly researched, in mechanics, in medicine, and in the scenery. It felt real, like real people having real conversations, and that's something I loved about the book. You know far too often that characters fall flat and confabulations (to use a word from the book, meaning conversations) feel forced and stiff, but I didn't see that happening here. The characters, especially Johnny and Pauline, were fluid and they experienced trials and growth throughout the novel. And Chemal was my favourite character, of course.

    follows Johnny and Pauline, owners of an ice-manufacturing plant. The ice factory has just been served a lofty fine by OSHA for a recent accident that occurred in the building. Amidst trying to combat the possibility of the factory being permanently shut down, one of the protagonists experiences a sudden seizure, which leads to a potentially devastating diagnosis. While all this chaos is happening down in Florida, Johnny's estranged son, Corran, is up in Scotland experiencing some turmoil of his own. We read from multiple perspectives in this book, which I found to be an asset to the story; I loved the limited viewpoint each character offered and how the details in each person's life connected to create the satisfying revelations by the end of the book.

    Ultimately, I don't think the book sounds overly interesting from an outside viewpoint, but the writing style had me hooked the whole way through, and I was actually quite absorbed in the plot. I became attached to these characters and I became emotional in their struggles. Every piece of this story is important and rich with detail as the narrative is woven together. Laura Lee Smith is an author that I will definitely keep on my radar because I would love to read more works by her after enjoying this one so much.

    By the way, I looked up where Corran lives, Loch Linnhe, on a map of Scotland, and there's a ferry line that shares his name. That can't be a coincidence.

  • Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  • Barbara

    3.5Stars: “The Ice House” by Laura Lee Smith is a satisfying read about a man in the midst of crisis in all aspects of his life. His business is facing a shutdown; his son won’t talk to him; his wife seems restless; and his physical health is precarious.

    Johnny MacKinnon is a native Scotland man who manages an ice factory in Florida. As the story opens, the Ice House is facing a financially crushing fine from OSHA after an accident in the plant. While he’s attempting to fight the fine and keep t

    3.5Stars: “The Ice House” by Laura Lee Smith is a satisfying read about a man in the midst of crisis in all aspects of his life. His business is facing a shutdown; his son won’t talk to him; his wife seems restless; and his physical health is precarious.

    Johnny MacKinnon is a native Scotland man who manages an ice factory in Florida. As the story opens, the Ice House is facing a financially crushing fine from OSHA after an accident in the plant. While he’s attempting to fight the fine and keep the business running, he passes out at work and discovers he has an unwanted tenant in his brain. At the same time, his ex wife is pestering him to make amends with his 30 year-old son who has a history of drug problems.

    Sound a bit dreary? It isn’t. Smith writes her characters with a sense of humor. What she shines at is writing the quirky supporting characters that provide amusement to situations. In fact, it’s the quirky supporting characters that make the novel an enjoyable read.

    The story is a bit slow to start but worth the effort to plow through. Some have criticized her ending of leaving no loose ends. I found it satisfying. As it’s said: all’s well that ends well. It’s enjoyable to have a story end in Disney fashion.

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