On a seemingly normal night in a small Wisconsin town, eight women begin walking the rural roads, attracting national attention. The eight women have been meeting every Thursday to drink wine and reveal secrets, becoming closer and closer as the time goes by. Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne and Janice run the gamut in age, occupation and personality, but they have formed bonds stronger than any of them thought possible. When one of the women ends up with an unwanted pregnancy, something stirs inside of all the women: an urge to simply walk away from their challenging, often hopeless lives. With no supplies, no plan and no warning, the eight women simply begin walking. This begins Kris Radish’s first novel, The Elegant Gathering of the White Snows.
The book is split between stories of each woman's life, stories of women who are affected by their walking effort and newspaper stories. As the women continue their journey, refusing to talk to reporters or others who ask why they are walking, the nation focuses more and more attention on them. Women across the country, young and old, find the courage to change their own lives after hearing about the Wisconsin women.
A story such as this relies heavily on the reader forming a bond with the main characters. Unfortunately, Radish throws in far too many characters with not nearly enough background on them, making it difficult for the reader to relate to them or care about their struggles. One character blends into another, making it very difficult to keep track of the different women and why they have chosen to go on this journey.
Kris Radish had a good idea for a novel in An Elegant Gathering, but the book never really comes together or accomplishes what it intends to. Without anything invested in these characters, the reader feels as if the book is trying too hard to make a monumental point. By the end of the book, Radish tells us that these women have revolutionized the world for their gender. Unfortunately this statement, along with the others that the book tries to make, falls on the deaf ears of readers who lost interest long before the last page.