You can always tell when I’m close to the darkest days of the year, as audiobook novellas start to become front and centre in my reading. Walking the dog in the morning dark, getting home before it’s barely light, and having my beard frozen to my face is less than pleasant, but an audiobook I can listen to for a few days worth of walks and feel the rush of completing a story makes the chore go by faster. Such was the case of “Snow Day,” from Julie Lipson, which was a full-cast audio performance of a lovely little holiday romance meet-cute novella, where Amy (an American traveling by train from Northern Italy to France to meet her on-again, off-again fella in Paris—alongside his whole family) meets Martijn, (a Finn who likes to travel and have adventures and feels stifled by his family, who don’t really “get” him).
Snow covers the tracks, and the two find themselves stranded in a small town in Italy in the cold, with nowhere to really go or stay, and while Martijn takes it all in stride, Amy is, at first, determined to figure out a way to get herself to Paris on time. But as the reality sinks in, Amy starts to question a lot of the ways she’s lived her life thus far, and at the same time, Martijn realizes he’s got something to learn from Amy, too—even though he thinks she needs to learn from him as well. What follows is, perhaps, a wee bit predictable in the two connect (of course), but that’s the joy of a romance novella (and a holiday one, to boot): I’m not looking to be surprised, I’m looking to be charmed and comforted and to smile, and between the settings, the voice acting, and the lovely narrative, “Snow Day” delivered on all fronts.
On that note about surprise, though, the novella did do a single zig when I thought it was going to zag, and I really appreciated it when it happened, as it was a great example of just how romance can take the usual tropes (forced proximity, strangers-meeting-in-crisis, opposites-attract) and then spin a take on it that’s fresh regardless of how often the tropes have been used. The denouement was exactly that: once the two came to their realizations, they both made a decision about where they should be for the holiday after all, and it was pretty and charming and quite lovely (the zag); and then what followed was the zig, which left me really smiling.