I liked the atmosphere and the writing, the kind of clarity that they both have. The emotional lives and tragedies of the old couple are beautifully - and occassionaly devastatingly - drawn. At the same time, the story felt a little insubstantial and petered out. The most interesting current, for me, was the question of the end. It's a fairy tale. You know how it ends, how it must end, (I grew up with Snegurochka, which I had forgotten, so the story settled into a worn groove,) and yet found myself questioning that anyway. Could the story change direction? Why not? Could the characters do that? Can the author do that? Can a reader accept that?