To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Look! It’s another book by Eowyn Ivey! OMG, yay! I just could not wait for this book to come out. Loved, loved, loved The Snow Child so much!
To the Bright Edge of the World unfolds through the eyes of Joshua Sloan. As an exhibits curator at the Alpine Historical Museum in Alaska, he has been corresponding with Walter Forrester who has journals, letters and artifacts from his great-uncle Allen Forrester’s 1885 expedition across Alaska. As Joshua reads through the materials Walter shares with him, a great story in the tradition of Lewis and Clark unfolds.
Lieutenant Allen Forrester is chosen by the U.S. government to lead a reconnaissance team into Alaska and travel up the Wolverine River. His job is to map the territory, document the weather and record information about the native tribes. In addition, they are to ascertain how a military force would gain access to the region if the necessity were to arise. The last white men to attempt the Wolverine River territory were the Russians, who were killed by the Indians. Forrester is deemed the perfect man for the job as he won a medal when he led his regiment in a conflict with the Apache Indians.
Forrester is a bit reluctant to accept the offer though. He is newly married to Sophie and they are expecting their first child. His wife Sophie also does not relish the prospect of being without her husband for a long period and having the baby arrive while he is gone. Nevertheless, duty calls and Forrester does accept the mission. Between his diary and letters to and from Sophie we learn of the hardships that Forrester and his party faced on the journey through Alaska. They faced severe weather, harsh landscape, low food stores and encounters with the natives. The mystical beliefs of the natives are woven throughout the tale but with Forrester being a no-nonsense sort of man, he doesn’t buy into their superstitious ways. Meanwhile, at home Sophie is worried about her pregnancy and she also takes up an interesting new hobby.
What comes to mind when reviewing this book is that history shows us over and over that men were always exploring other countries, and oftentimes looking to conquer them. But why is it that these men always thought their way was the right way? Throughout the world, men came along and forced themselves upon an already existing culture and immediately start trying to change the things that didn’t conform to their beliefs. It’s been done time and time again. The native cultures’ belief systems often offered up new and magical ways to look at the world. Sadly enough, very little of that remains in modern times.
I was somewhat surprised at the subject matter of this book when compared to The Snow Child. But when I think about it, it seems that Ivey is just giving us another glimpse of the home that she loves. This book is set 35 years later and is yet another portrait of the beauty and wildness of Alaska. While it’s not exactly the book I anticipated when I looked forward to Eowyn Ivey’s next book so eagerly, Ivey is such a magical writer and this is a very interesting foray into the early history of Alaska. I love Ivey’s style of writing! She manages to weave a tale that is based on a real-life military expedition and sprinkle magic touches in along the way! It’s not often that you see such a mixture and this author manages to leave you with a lovely picture of the world she is writing about. Read this book, it’s definitely worth your time!
I want to thank the publisher (Little, Brown and Company) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.