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.

  • Bonnye Reed

    GNab If you have read other reviews of this special novel, you may think me addlepated when I tell you that this is an excellent feel good tale. After all, 30 year old Corran, though currently in his fifth phase of freedom from heroin addiction and settled in a small drug free town on Loch Linnhe, Scotland, is facing a life of strife with no marketable skills that will allow him to raise his nine month old daughter as a single parent after his wife Anna receives an extended jail term for selling

    GNab If you have read other reviews of this special novel, you may think me addlepated when I tell you that this is an excellent feel good tale. After all, 30 year old Corran, though currently in his fifth phase of freedom from heroin addiction and settled in a small drug free town on Loch Linnhe, Scotland, is facing a life of strife with no marketable skills that will allow him to raise his nine month old daughter as a single parent after his wife Anna receives an extended jail term for selling drugs to feed her habit. He has and can work off-shore oil rigs and make a decent wage but who will take care of Lucy? He is afraid to settle anywhere drugs are available as he is now all the family Lucy has. He must stay drug free for her.

    Corran and his father Johnny haven't spoken since the dust up in Jacksonville, Florida at Christmas the year before, when Corran slides back into addiction just days after his release from the last expensive rehab. Johnny has his own problems - a brain tumor and a second mortgage on his home to pay for drug rehabs for Corran over the years. Johnny's across-the-street neighbor jumped in to help while Johnny is taking steroids and waiting for the swelling in his brain to go down before the surgery, to drive Johnny around and help out. Seventeen year old Chemal is scary smart, but is out of school because of emotional issues - poorly socialized, doesn't sense boundaries, doesn't do well with authority.

    Johnny's wife of twenty something years, Pauline, is at 50 watching her racist father Packy Knight fall further into dementia and is second guessing her long ago decision to forgo children of her own - Johnny has always been good about sharing Corran with her, but..... Johnny and Pauline are also facing massive fines from OSHA that will result in closing down their second generation family owned Jacksonville Florida ice house unless they can come up with a witness to tie in the across-the-street dope dealer with their ammonia tank rupture. If they have to close shop to pay the fines it will not only break them, but put out of work their many loyal employees.

    Corran's Mom Sharon, a hospice nurse and breast cancer survivor who is also broke from rehab expenses over the last several years is dealing with her husband Toole slipping into dementia, working full time and trying to assist Corran three hours away from her home near Glasgow with Lucy on weekends, so he can work overtime on the ferry that employs him.

    These folks feel like family - they are well rounded, compassionate, genuine. Anything is possible with this support system on your side. Laura Lee Smith is an author I will watch for.

    I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Laura Lee Smith, and Grove Atlantic in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.

    pub date Dec 12, 2017

    rec Oct 19, 2017

    Grove Atlantic

  • Peebee

    Wow, what a book. I often do not enjoy books like this but this one really grabbed me. It started off a little slow, and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. The setting of the scene in the beginning was a little formulaic in its description of the physical scenery and the characters' appearances. But once we got to the story, it really got my attention. There are a lot of characters and a lot of perspectives in the narrative, and while sometimes that either muddies things, or the characters

    Wow, what a book. I often do not enjoy books like this but this one really grabbed me. It started off a little slow, and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. The setting of the scene in the beginning was a little formulaic in its description of the physical scenery and the characters' appearances. But once we got to the story, it really got my attention. There are a lot of characters and a lot of perspectives in the narrative, and while sometimes that either muddies things, or the characters don't have a distinctive voice, the characters were written very well. I especially related to Pauline, as she's my age and had some other similarities in her experiences and perspective, but all the characters were believable and compelling, in my opinion. When you can write a middle-aged woman and a son dealing with heroin addiction and the middle-aged man equally well, that's impressive. The ending was a little predictable, but not necessarily so, and there's drama right up to the last page. I haven't read this author before, but now I want to go back and check some of her other work.

    I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  • Korynne Michele

    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.

  • Rachel Watkins

    I love sweeping family dramas and Laura Lee Smith's THE ICE HOUSE shares the story of the MacKinnons which encompasses mid-life health issues, family business troubles, a son with a drug problem and all the interesting nuances that being human and aging brings to the forefront. Smith knows how to weave a compelling tale and I enjoyed this one to the very end.

  • Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  • SueKich

    Congratulations to relatively new author Laura Lee Smith on writing The Ice House. She gives us a good story peopled with believable characters (I particularly liked Chemal, the kid next door). Most impressive is the dialogue which I found totally believable. The tale is told in a straightforward way without resorting to dual time-frames or multi view-points – something of a welcome rarity these days.

    The story is a simple one: Johnny is a fiftysomething Scot who came to Florida

    Congratulations to relatively new author Laura Lee Smith on writing The Ice House. She gives us a good story peopled with believable characters (I particularly liked Chemal, the kid next door). Most impressive is the dialogue which I found totally believable. The tale is told in a straightforward way without resorting to dual time-frames or multi view-points – something of a welcome rarity these days.

    The story is a simple one: Johnny is a fiftysomething Scot who came to Florida in his youth and married the boss’s daughter. He and Pauline run the ice house which is in trouble with the authorities because of an accident that has happened at the plant; an audit is now taking place. Meanwhile, Johnny is heading towards medical difficulties and his son Corran, estranged from his father and living in Scotland, is a recovering heroin addict with a new baby to look after. Johnny and Pauline have plenty to worry about.

    The cold of the ice plant is a constant reminder of the Floridian heat outside. Equally, Laura Lee Smith contrasts her two settings with convincing effect.

    On the negative side, there’s not really sufficient story here to sustain the page count; cutting the extraneous detail down to three hundred pages would have produced a tighter and better read, in my view. Yet after all that, the ending seemed rushed and overly contrived. Also, I’m never quite sure about bumping into Americanisms when the Scottish characters are on the British side of the pond: five-and-dime stores and diapers do tend to jar a bit. But for all that, this is an enjoyable novel with plenty to recommend it.

    My thanks to Grove Press for the ARC courtesy of NetGalley.

  • 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.

  • Paula DeBoard

    I picked up The Ice House once, read the first chapter, and wasn’t all that thrilled. Then I tried again, and I’m glad I did. The writing felt a bit clunky and uneven at the opening, but this quickly became a great read—relatable but somewhat quirky characters, all-too-real but stuff-of-nightmares situations (a brain tumor, a business that might go under, a livelihood that might be lost), and redemptions that felt real and not just convenient.

    I was a big fan.

    My thanks to the publisher and NetG

    I picked up The Ice House once, read the first chapter, and wasn’t all that thrilled. Then I tried again, and I’m glad I did. The writing felt a bit clunky and uneven at the opening, but this quickly became a great read—relatable but somewhat quirky characters, all-too-real but stuff-of-nightmares situations (a brain tumor, a business that might go under, a livelihood that might be lost), and redemptions that felt real and not just convenient.

    I was a big fan.

    My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.

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