➼ To the Bright Edge of the World Download ➻ Author Eowyn Ivey – Dolove.info
Note rereading for my library s book club It was chosen at my recommendation so I am hoping they will love it as much as I did I fell totally head over heels in love with this book Through NetGalley, I ve been fortunate enough to read several books being published this year with advanced reader s copies and this is by far one of the finest many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity Now the question is how to do this gem justice in my review How to describe the pleasure this book has given me Those who know me well know I have a fascination and love for Alaska, having recently returned from our second trip there in ten years I still have northern lights in my eyes and dream of mountain vistas Shortly after our trip, I read an account of John Muir s explorations in Alaska Alaska Days with John Muir written by his friend and traveling companion, Samuel Hall Young, which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend for those interested in the early exploration of Alaska.For a fictionalized account along the same lines, I highly recommend Eowyn Ivey s new book, To The Bright Edge of the World It is first and foremost historical fiction and adventure, about a reconnaissance expedition undertaken in March, 1885, to explore and map the interior of the newly purchased Alaskan territory and document the native tribes found along the Wolverine River The party is made up of Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester, Lieutenant Andrew Pruitt and Sergeant Bradley Tillman, plus the trapper Samuelson, invaluable for his rudimentary knowledge of native languages They set off from Perkins Island a little later in the spring than they had hoped, with a crippled old Eyak man, a shaman wearing a top hat, gentleman s vest and necklace of bones, teeth and beads, plus three native boys, who were deemed too young to be off on the hunt with the rest of the men of the tribe The story is told through journals, reports, illustrations, photographs, newspaper clippings and artifacts that were collected by the Forrester family One of the last remaining relatives, great nephew Walter Forrester, now in his 70s and living in Montana, is in possession of all this treasure and wants to make sure it is preserved as part of Alaskan history and has therefore sent boxes of the material to a small historical museum in Alpine, Alaska, near the same Wolverine River that the Forrester party explored At first the exhibits curator, Joshua Sloan, is overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of material and wants to refuse it, suggesting it should be given to a much larger museum in Anchorage with a larger staff to deal with it But Walt urges him to reconsider and at least read through some of the journals before making his decision, and sure enough, when he does Josh is hooked Part of the joy of reading this correspondence is the warm friendship that springs up between the two men who have met only through their letters Forrester s journals describe the beautiful landscape, the harrowing trek through ice fields, the losses they suffer in vivid detail But what makes this account truly unique is the touch of magical realism that begins to permeate his report of their experiences almost right from the start before they even leave Perkins Island, Allen spots the lame old shaman high up in a spruce tree in the middle of the night and is creeped out How did he get up thereand why The natives call him the man who flies Is he their helper or their enemy Often they are not really sure as he cackles at their misfortunes He seems to hand out hexes and healing in equal measure Forrester reports several other strange experiences that officials later put down to hallucinations brought on by exposure to harsh conditions, exhaustion and starvation They couldn t possibly be real, right Back at the Vancouver Barracks awaits Allen s young wife, Sophie, a former teacher who is pregnant with their first child, and many of the writings included are her journals which express her worries, loneliness and boredom at being left to await her husband s return She is the daughter of a sculptor who apparently went quite mad before his death but Sophie has never found that same artistic spark within herself She does loves nature, especially birds, and appreciates that certain quality of light and shadow Before the men leave on their assignment, Sophie becomes very interested in Pruitt s photographic instruments and decides to pursue that hobby herself after tragedy strikes She finds she has the artistic eye for composition, shadow and light and above all, the fortitude and patience to await the perfect moment for her shot She specializes in birds and comes to the realization that the nest might be the ideal spot for a chance at a great photo especially of her favorite, the hummingbird This made me laugh with shared frustration as we have often struggled to catch a shot of those little flitters in our garden Sophie little cares that she is the subject of much derision and consternation among the other officers wives as she traipses through the fields surrounding the barracks in beat up clothes Back then, women were expected to be predictable, quiet and insipid after all But not her History is not made by timid women In the present day, Josh notes with irony that by the very act of exploring, these men set off change Within 20 years, mining and railroads would come to the area Progress, with a capital P But these brave explorers were also witnesses to the before and document those details of native life that might otherwise have been forgotten No, I cannot do this book justice in this simple review, but let me say this book resonated with me and awakened great pleasure in the reading, transporting this reader to the early days of Alaskan exploration to see it with fresh eyes Alaska of today might seem civilized to those early explorers if they could see it now, but to most of us visitors, it is still an adventure a harsh and beautiful world, ruled by mother nature Thank you, Eowyn Ivey, for bringing this story and little known history to life 2016 aty reading challenge week 45 A book related to a passion you have. Ivashov and his men were sleeping in their sleds when, at a prearranged sign, the Midnooskies crushed each of the men s skulls with axesAt first glance this is a story that I shouldn t like it s essentially an account of an expedition into the frozen wilds of Alaska, expressed in the form of diaries and historical documents.Sounds boring, right Wronggg This is in fact an epic tale of love, nature, historical adventure and North American mythology that had me absorbed from start to finish.It s 1885 Dutiful and capable Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester leads a reconnaissance mission into Alaska, up the Wolverine River, to gauge whether the natives of the territory would be hostile or not.At the same time, his pregnant wife, Sophie Forrester, is confined to Vancouver Barracks.Optimistic, ladylike and resolute think Charlotte Bront , she keeps a journal of her daily life, as does her hubby Sophie s snug life of self discovery and afternoon teas forms the perfect contrast to her husband s grim and perilous odyssey.With the words of his blood guts father, General James Forrester, ringing in his ears that his preference for topographical engineering is for sissies Allen has nevertheless previously shown his mettle in the heat of battle.Ivey s prose is precise and evocative, rather than poetic and descriptive It is this verisimilitude that gives the story some grit and amplifies the magic that is braided into the narrative.The novel is extremely well written, which is a benediction these days.Particularly groovy was a description of bats as being mice who swim with the stars Love that Those accompanying him on the trip include boisterous hell raiser, Sergeant Tillman, and Tillman s polar opposite, brooding Lieutenant Pruitt, who prefers a sextant to sex.Also in the party is an old Eyak Indian, known as The Man Who Flies on Black Wings This chap sleeps at the top of trees in the dead of night and is said to possess unearthly powers.And this is where the story gets really interestingAs a fan of magical realism, I love Ivey s sorcerous incantation of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism.Native folklore and perceived reality become blurred it is believed that humans have been seen shape shifting into animals and that trees can double up as wombs As a result, Forrester s white man scepticism is sorely tested on the assignment.The wilderness of wintry Alaska, with its frozen rivers and deep set snow is best suited to mineral prospectors and fur trappers and if anyone can survive that, Spring awaits with its squadrons of ceaseless mosquitoes.Comic relief comes in the form of Sergeant Tillman who has a bash at writing the daily log while his scholarly superior is indisposed Unforchinitly his speling and grammer isnt as gud as wot forristers is Side by side throughout the book, yet a hinterland apart Allen s indomitable spirit is mirrored by his wife s determination to challenge chauvinistic attitudes back at the barracks The dichotomy of their parallel existence is a constant theme throughout, as is the symbolism of the colour black black wolf black raven black hat black bear, etcetera.This has all the ingredients of a first rate novel, and serves as a sad reminder that the Native American s soulful connection with nature is now only the stuff of legend.Homeric and allegorical, To the Bright Edge of the World is a cracking read that cannot be ignored.Huge thanks to Cheri for her judicious recommendation. Set Again In The Alaskan Landscape That She Brought To Stunningly Vivid Life In The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey S Second Novel Is A Breathtaking Story Of Discovery And Adventure, Set At The End Of The Nineteenth Century, And Of A Marriage Tested By A Closely Held SecretColonel Allen Forrester Receives The Commission Of A Lifetime When He Is Charged To Navigate Alaska S Hitherto Impassable Wolverine River, With Only A Small Group Of Men The Wolverine Is The Key To Opening Up Alaska And Its Huge Reserves Of Gold To The Outside World, But Previous Attempts Have Ended In TragedyFor Forrester, The Decision To Accept This Mission Is Even Difficult, As He Is Only Recently Married To Sophie, The Wife He Had Perhaps Never Expected To Find Sophie Is Pregnant With Their First Child, And Does Not Relish The Prospect Of A Year In A Military Barracks While Her Husband Embarks Upon The Journey Of A Lifetime She Has Genuine Cause To Worry About Her Pregnancy, And It Is With Deep Uncertainty About What Their Future Holds That She And Her Husband PartA Story Shot Through With A Darker But Potent Strand Of The Magic That Illuminated The Snow Child, And With The Sweep And Insight That Characterizes Rose Tremain S The Colour, This Novel From Pulitzer Prize Finalist Eowyn Ivey Singles Her Out As A Major Literary Talent I didn t expect to like this book as much as I did because the premise makes it seem like it s going to be slow and tedious but wow I was so drawn into the story when I actually started reading it The writing was fantastic and I enjoyed all the characters Sophie was particularly enjoyable for me I love how the myths and culture of the natives was weaved into the story line, and I always enjoy books with magic realism in them usually Also the old man was hilarious Really well written and constructed. When Colonel Forrester leaves from the army barracks in Vancouver, he is charged with exploring the Wolverine River in the newly acquired territory of Alaska He leaves behind his wife, Sophie As he blazes a trail in the wilderness, filled with tribes of different Indians, horrific snowstorms, lack of food, loss of supplies and many surreal and some dangerous happenings, his wife is blazing her own trail After suffering a personal tragedy, Sophie, bored with gossip and teas with the other army wives, takes up photography A love of nature, birds, being outdoors will bring the condemnation of the other women especially after she turns her pantry into a darkroom.Told in letters, journal entries, photos, drawings and newspaper articles this is a superb adventure story There are also dual timelines as in the present an ancestor of the Forrester, now in his seventies sends all the paper items he has to a small museum in Nome, Alaska I appreciated this part because it showed how these beginning trailblazers changed so much in how Alaska progressed and not necessarily all for the better There is also a raven threaded throughout it is a very important and mysterious part of the story.Although completely different in many ways from her first novel, she still included many of the things that made her first book so successful Atmosphere is superb and her love for Alaska shines through I enjoyed slowly reading through this, often reading a few entries or so at night before I went to bed Another wonderful story by this talented author.ARC from Netgalley. How is it that we tell a story The best of them are true extensions of the human spirit relayed through journals, diaries, letters, photos, and the like It s the hand that grips us tightly and takes us deeply into the experiential catacombs of another.Oh, Eowyn Ivey does it so well as she did with such finesse in The Snow Child before this To make us, the readers, feel with this finite acuity is a gift If you take away anything from this novel, just read the letter from Lieutenant Colonel Forrester to his wife, Sophie, that begins on Page 376.To The Bright Edge of the World is an amazing journey told through the perspectives of Lieutenant Colonel Forrester, Sophie Forrester, and two gentlemen, present day, who are organizing the journals and field diaries of the Forresters Forrester and his men begin a grueling expedition in the winter of 1885 along the Wolverine River and into the Alaskan Territory They encounter the cruelties of the rugged terrain around every corner..and they are ill prepared for what lies ahead of them They come across the painfully real and, perhaps, the questionably imagined.The indigenous tribes play a remarkable role throughout the story Their presence dips into the inkwell of such thoughts, words, and actions told in almost unspeakable terms Survival depended upon these individuals and annihilation by these same people was, indeed, a reality borne out in times past.Sophie Forrester exists in parallel with her husband She waits anxiously for any bit of news through scant letters But Sophie carries the heaviness of a burden that few words can describe She lives with this reality and it swaddles her in grief both day and night She must cut a path of her own making in a time when such behavior turns heads I wonder that any life has ever been confined to golden dances and fine stitches and silk, for it seems to me that suffering knows no class or rank, gender or age, and we each of us brave our own darkness And those of us who have experienced the majesty of Alaska, I can only say it in the Colonel s words I begin to try to comprehend gray rivers that roar down from the glaciers, mountains spruce valleys as far as the eye can see It is grand, inscrutable wildness. Eowyn Ivey is one of those rare authors whose talent shines brightly when they are capturing small, quiet moments, as well as dramatic occurrences Her first book, The Snow Child , was an absolute wonder, and it made my list of the best books I read in 2012 In her new book, To the Bright Edge of the World , Ivey returns to her beloved Alaska and dazzles once again.One of the things that s so remarkable about Ivey s talent is that this book is so tremendously compelling despite the fact that the two main characters are almost never together.In 1885, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester has agreed to take on a challenging and potentially dangerous mission, to lead a small group of men up the Wolverine River and into the Alaska Territory They re not really sure to what to expect from this expedition, but Allen is determined to find answers as to what and whom awaits them He leaves behind his young pregnant wife, Sophie, who had hoped to travel with Allen at least part of the way, until she found out she was expecting.Being stuck in the Vancouver barracks is not the type of life Sophie had in mind Her passion for nature and wildlife, birds in particular, is out of step with most women of her time, particularly those living in the barracks But she doesn t really seem to care She isn t content to simply sit and gossip, or entertain women at her home much less ensure the house is adequately clean for them She d much rather find an elusive hummingbird or other birds she s not familiar with I told myself I would never take it for granted the freedom to choose my own dress, to plan my days, to walk where I desired and see what I would Allen and his men find Alaska breathtakingly beautiful, unforgiving, baffling, and at times tremendously rewarding Yet there appears to be at least the threat of danger around every corner, and they must contend with the weather, the tundra itself, settlements of Indians which react differently to Allen s group, the challenges of living in close proximity with each other, and some strange occurrences which don t seem as if they have any basis in reality Allen chronicles everything in his journal, since he knows his letters may take a very long time to reach Sophie, and he views his journal as the ultimate record should their exploring fail.For her part, Sophie also keeps a diary, chronicling her loneliness and longing for Allen, her feeling stifled by barracks life and the gossiping women around her, and the excitement she feels when she discovers photography is an outlet for both her love of nature and her independent, creative spirit She is a woman so used to following her own course yet she d give anything to be with her husband again, or at least get word of his condition.Allen and Sophie s stories are told against the backdrop of correspondence between Allen s great nephew and the curator of an Alaskan museum, which also are fascinating exchanges about cultural identity, the thirst for adventure, and both how alike and how different we are from each other.Much like an expedition, the book started slowly but picked up steam as it progressed Ivey s characters felt so lifelike, their struggles so real, I felt totally invested in their lives Ivey has such a way with imagery, with emotion, that I pictured the book in my mind s eye and felt it in my heart This is totally a keeper and it is utterly memorable.NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review Thanks for making this available See all of my reviews at I once thought to kill myself so that I would no longer wander through a fog such as this How could it be any greater crime than that which I have already faced, committed, failed to undo Yet I am a coward I had included To the Bright Edge of the World on my list, long before I know of Ivey s The Snow Child a book that touched me deeply My interest was picked for two reasons First, I have a deep love for the region of Alaska, and second, the book synopsis brought to my mind a beautiful film calledThe Snow Walker with the brilliant Barry Pepper In the film, a Canadian pilot is stranded in the arctic tundra, in Canada s Northwest region and comes to terms with the true meanings of life through the eyes of a young Innuit woman If you haven t seen the film, please do You ll thank me later Now, there are so many things to love in this book Ivey s writing shines through beautiful sentences and well composed dialogue and inner monologues She ties the worlds of the past and the present by using elements of myth and folklore of the indigenous people of Alaska and, at the same time, she presents the first steps of the art of Photography to describe the beginning of a new era and the newly found life of our heroine, SophieWhen expectation fails to ruins, what is there left for love I have an immense admiration for ravens and wolves, I find them to be fascinating, full of mystery, darkness and questionable intentions Therefore, I will devour every book with references to either of these creatures or both, as is the case here So, Ivey uses symbolism and sets of contrasts to tell the parallel lives of Allen and Sophie as he is in a deadly expedition and she remains behind to wait for him and for the child she s carrying The raven, here, is an ominous symbol of death that must be exorcised, witnessed by Sophie and by Allen who come to believe that the black bird has been following their steps all along.Another contrast takes place between Sophie and the young indigenous woman who follows the expedition While the latter is free to choose her own husband and roam wherever she wants, Sophie is stuck in the outrageous patriarchal restrictions of the past The majority of the men consider her to be a frail, vain woman when she is the complete opposite The narrow mindness of the woman of her social circle comes through as they have been brought up with such notions as propriety and female behaviour They constantly try to infect Sophie with their views and she is as trapped with them as Allen is trapped in the ferocious Wolverine river.The use of birds links the couple in a diverse way Sophie loves the fluttering sound of hummingbirds and their presence is a source of happiness and tranquility for her For Allen, however, the geese he often sees appear frightening as monsters and unreal like hallucinations.The couple compliment each other in every way, not unlike Jack and Mabel of The Snow Child For me, though, they are not as interesting as the elder couple I enjoyed Allen s parts, I was waiting for the continuation of his expedition eagerly The parts of Sophie, however, didn t attract my attention as much as I thought they would There were some I liked and quite a few that tempted me to scan and skim.The character of Sophie is one I am on the fence about I found her too docile to the insulting and hateful company of Mrs Connors and the ladies of the polite society I admired her determination, and courage, her persistance and bravery, but I don t consider her a particularly memorable character Allen is interesting, probably, because his adventure is fascinating, mystical and unpredictable and this is an advantageous ark for the development of a character He is brave, rational and not easily susceptible to fear and prejudice However, he isn t a hero we haven t seen before nor one we won t see in other stories Like Sophie, he is well developed, but I won t remember him in detail after some time has passed.This is a slow burn As the narration is largely supported in diary entries and correspondence, there is not much dialogue Newspaper clippings and some beautiful photographs and sketches create a unique combination I admit, though, that the letters between Josh and Walt were a torchure I understand that this was a way to connect the past to the present, but I found them tedious, repetitive, soap operish They slowed the narration even In my opinion, they didn t offer anything interesting to the story and the writing in them was too mellow for my liking.I can t say I connected to the story and the characters the way I did in The Snow Child, but this is a vastly different book The beauty of Ivey s writing is present along with elements of magical realism and folklore that she uses in a convincing way She doesn t repeat herself, prefering one book over the other is purely subjective So, this may not have worked that well for me mainly because I found Sophie too blunt but both books are unique and Eowyn Ivey is a writer that is certain to offer us many great stories, full of beauty, magic and hope God knows how much we need all three in this time of ours I ve finished the pages, closed my kindle, and yet, I still feel held in this otherworldly moment, unwilling to rejoin this world that is my real life Even that seems untrue, because this story feels so real, it s hard to believe that any part of this is fictional, not real Eowyn Ivey s novel, To the Bright Edge of the World is lovely, the prose is gorgeous, and the varying points of view made this all the compelling Walter, Walt, Forrester wants to find a home for the boxes of letters and journals and various artifacts which relate to an expedition made by his great Uncle in 1885 through Alaska as a Lieutenant Colonel As a boy Walter had read these letters and journals, and again at other points in his life He has always found them fascinating, and they are very dear to him Now in his 70s, he feels they should find a place where they can safely be admired by others Walter finds a small museum which sits near the river Lt Col Allen Forrester had travelled by in Alpine, Alaska When Joshua Sloan, curator of the museum, first receives the boxes of letters, journals, photographs, newspaper clippings, with to come, he fears his museums isn t exactly where these items belong, but as he begins reading, he falls deeply into their spell As a member of the Wolverine River tribe, he recognizes the places Forrester s journal describes As he writes back to Walter, there is the natural back and forth their letters take, and soon a friendship is formed If you ve read Eowyn Ivey s The Snow Child, you will already be aware of her ability to seamlessly weave in myth, fable and folklore into her stories, athis novel set in Alaska contains all that, and It s an adventure story on two fronts Allen s trek across the wilderness with his crew and assorted others, as well as his wife Sophie s somewhat tamer adventure in our eyes, perhaps but borderline scandalous behavior for the time, filling her days with her newfound passion There s a bit of mystery involved, and some tense, terrifying moments for Allen crew as they trek through territory deemed haunted I can find no means to account for what we have witnessed, except to say that I am no longer certain of the boundaries between man beast, of the living the dead All that I have taken for granted, what I have known as real true, has been called into question Lt Col Allen ForresterA historical novel with supernatural occurrences, add in a fable fairy tale like quality with magical realism, one heck of an adventure story, and a love story that takes many forms The love story of Allen and Sophie The love of Alaska and its wild but unquestionable beauty Not to mention the love of the reader for these characters, and for this gift of a story Pub Date 02 Aug 2016Many thanks for the ARC provided by Little, Brown and Company, NetGalley and author Eowyn Ivey This is an enthralling and atmospheric historical novel set in late nineteenth century Alaska The narrative takes the form of interwoven articles, photographs, journals, diary, letters etc There are three different storylines Recently married Colonel Allen Forrester is entrusted to map the impassable Wolverine River in Alaska and document information on the various native Indian tribes His journal gives an insight into this harrowing and pioneering expedition, including their experience of folklore, magical realism and shamanism His strong and independent wife, Sophie, finds herself having to remain in the barracks upon discovering that she is pregnant Her diary entries tell of her life whilst Allen is away Walt, a relative of Colonel Allen Forrester, sends a box of Allen s journals with other items, to document this vital history of Alaska to Joshua Sloan, a museum curator Allen is accompanied by the colourful Sergeant Tillman, the moody and troubled Lieutenant Pruitt and by the invaluable and helpful trapper, Samuelson They are to experience many desperate privations that include extreme hunger, the biting cold, and loss of much needed supplies They encounter differing attitudes from the various Indian tribes, but would not be alive if they had not received vital help from them They continually encounter the disturbing, unnerving and contrary old Eyak man They encounter the beauty of this inhospitable region such as its awe inspiring and challenging landscape and the Aurora Borealis The expedition inevitably takes in severe losses.Sophie chafes at the strictures placed on her by the army and the circle of women prone to gossip After tragedy strikes, she subsumes her grief to focus on becoming a photographer She has a burning desire to photograph birds, particularly hummingbirds, and despite all the obstacles she faces, she charts her own pioneering path It requires immense patience and fortitude, she is helped by pharmacist Henry Redington and Charlotte who becomes her assistant The love letters between Sophie and Allen document the depth of their love and its progressive nature given the historical period.At a dinner in the barracks where an Indian Chief is present, we come face to face with the fear, ignorance and racism directed towards him and a young Chinese boy The white trader, Jensen, sees Indians as less than human and as slaves Indians are gruesomely massacred, and we discover that Allen is forced to break promises he made to Indians Carnage is to follow in the footsteps of the expedition and the consequent arrival of the mining industry and fur trappers to the region Indians are forced to abandon their traditional lifestyles and values The detrimental effects of tuberculosis, influenza and alcoholism hit hard The complications of humanity and its abuses is writ large in this novel.Walt and Josh s relationship grows and develops as Josh connects ever deeply and personally with the historical journals and artefacts of the expedition Josh begins to compare his knowledge of the changes that have taken place in the region since the expedition and prepares an exhibition that connects the past with the present This is an impeccably researched and epic story that gives us well formed and engaging characters of the time The descriptions given are so good that you feel that you are there with the characters Just loved the book and cannot recommend it highly enough Thanks to Headline for an ARC.