From the best-selling author of The Snow Child, a thrilling tale of historical adventure set in the Alaskan wilderness.
In the winter of 1885, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester sets out with his men on an expedition into the newly acquired territory of Alaska. Their objective: to travel up the ferocious Wolverine River, mapping the interior and gathering information on the region's potentially dangerous native tribes. With a young and newly pregnant wife at home, Forrester is anxious to complete the journey with all possible speed and return to her. But once the crew passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits them.
With gorgeous descriptions of the Alaskan wilds and a vivid cast of characters - including Forrester; his wife, Sophie; a mysterious Eyak guide; and a Native American woman who joins the expedition - To the Bright Edge of the World is an epic tale of one of America's last frontiers, combining myth, history, romance, and adventure.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2016 Eowyn Ivey (P)2016 Hachette Audio
For me this book was too heavy on the myth, the romance and the supernatural. The letters and journal entries were confusing and nonlinear. If you decide on giving the book a try it is imperative to pay close attention to the dates announced with each narrator change. If you don't you will find the whole thing hard to follow as the story jumps around through time.
I would have liked more history and a tighter story line. For example, things like the lack of attention and detail about the actualities of the "row boat" the men used on the exploration of the river weakened the story. The fact that the men in reality would have portaged thousands of pounds of gear, lined (dragged by ropes) what was most likely a Columbia boat along miles of icy river banks and then did not freeze to death when submerged "to the neck" in the "frozen" water--just to mention three things missing from the story--was disappointing. I understand that Columbia boats--used during the time of this story--in the Pacific Northwest were lighter and easier to portage than the York boats of central and eastern Canada--but still they weighed thousands of pounds loaded. This would have been a terrible job--but all we hear is that the men carried their packs???
For me, there were too many missed opportunities for accuracy and historic detail that mattered to the story being told. Only for readers who love epistolary romance novels heavy on supernatural myths.
I listened for 5 hours, and tried to make myself continue past that point, but couldn't. I found the character of the wife annoying, treacly, and unrealistic. I found the parts about exploration interesting, but unfortunately outweighed by the sticky sweet romance story. For me, the narrators were all wrong. The one who narrated the explorer had a kind of Hollywood breathy voice that didn't seem to match the written character at all. The person who narrated the wife was sickly sweet. I was hoping for a real adventure story, but it seemed jumbly and uneven. I was disappointed by the dearth of historical details.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Having enjoyed the The Snow Child, I was eager to see if this second effort would meet my expectations for another magical tale of the Alaskan wilderness. In the early chapters I was worried. For one thing, I had seen no indications that this is a story told exclusively through letters, diary entries and miscellaneous book excerpts. In the beginning this lent the story a very choppy rhythm that stalled my ability to form a relationship with the main characters. I did eventually warm up to the format, but it was over an hour into the story before I felt engaged enough to commit to finishing – up to that point I was unsure if I would.
But I did become engaged, and that commitment grew stronger as the story went on, especially as Colonel Forrester’s expedition got well underway and Ivey’s love of the wilderness asserted itself in that part of the narrative. As the explorers pushed through the Wolverine River territory, we learned more of the native culture and mythology, bringing in a bit of shamanic magic that touched both the explorers and Sophie Forrester, waiting behind in Washington Territory for her husband’s return. Her mundane existence in the army barracks as a military wife did not suit her own adventurous nature, so she carved out a unique place for herself in that insular community, scandalizing some, but drawing admiration from others.
As with The Snow Child, the magic of the tale is offset by the harsh realities of an unforgiving land of few resources. Personal sacrifices and unsentimental decisions were necessary for survival, with no guarantee of a successful return. In the end I found my expectations well rewarded by the fullness of the story, augmented by excellent narration by all of the readers. BTW - The PDF download adds a visual interest to many parts of the story, especially the maps and photographs.
Great book! Living in Alaska, I recognized some of the characteristics of the town of Alpine. And I have spent time near the area described in the story. I didn't find the PDF of maps with the audible book that was mentioned in another review, but a google search revealed the map from the book as drawn by the author's friend. It was fun to match up the areas geographically, then by my memories of traveling /exploring in that area.
Well written and well read. It kept me interested the whole time. This was our book club book, and I had only listened to a little over 2 hours by the time our book club met. It is not like me to finish the book after I missed the "book club deadline," because it is time to move to the next book. However, I was intrigued so I listened every night thereafter until I finished.
This is an intriguing book. I loved it, and highly recommend it. Alaska calls to me and I was lucky enough to go when I was 19. This book reminds of of its mystery and aura as well as its hardships and difficulties. The mystical side of this story is just enough to add to the story without turning it into a hugely fantastical novel. I'm eager to read more by this author.
Could never far enough long into the story to suggest anything.
I don't know.
I want to get a refund for this one. I have only done that once before in all of my audible downloads.
If you loved THE SNOW CHILD, you'll find this deeper, fuller, and rich in factual detail. The mysterious "otherness" of wilderness, of Alaska, has been written and voiced (excellent performances) even more convincingly than in Eowyn Ivey's preceding novel. Put on a good wool sweater, then read this journey.
Expository novel in alternating voices: The journals of Colonel Allen Forrester, on an expedition to explore an uncharted region in Alaska in the late 1800's, and his wife Sophie, who wishes to be with him but remains behind in the army barracks of Vancouver, Washington, pregnant; in between these alternating journal entries are the modern day letters between Forrester's descendent and a museum curator in Alaska. Expository novel + magical realism (Ivey incorporates many Alaskan Native myths into the narrative) probably makes it something not everyone will like, but I loved it.
The audiobook was a good production, each character having their own narrator. [I think the thing that bothered me with some audiobook narrations with male narrators is when they voice female characters it reminds me of the "Kids in the Hall" when they do skits with female characters.] But the actual book is worth checking out, as it has maps & (photoshopped) photos and old-style advertisements spread about.
I'm starting to read a lot of these novels with the eye of an aspiring writer, and with this novel, it has to be incredible the amount of research Ivey put into it, even as an Alaskan. Early Alaskan history, expedition journals, both Russian & American, early photography, native lives & myths, the geography...mid-1800 military life...ornithology...Mindboggling.
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