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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn…
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To the Bright Edge of the World

by Eowyn Ivey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5095019,905 (4.15)85
  1. 10
    A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel by Ruth L. Ozeki (pamelahuffman)
    pamelahuffman: In both books there are people in the present trying to make sense of journals and artifacts from the past. Loved both books.
  2. 10
    Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (pamelahuffman)
    pamelahuffman: Narrative is split between male and female protagonists in both stories. Males are out in the world while women struggle on the home front. Loved both.
  3. 10
    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (pamelahuffman)
    pamelahuffman: By the same author. Also set in Alaska. Also has some magical realism which is presented as more real than magic. Thoroughly enjoyed both.
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» See also 85 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
''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 [b:The Snow Child|11250053|The Snow Child|Eowyn Ivey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327098624s/11250053.jpg|16176521]- 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 called ''The 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, Sophie.

''When 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 [b:The Snow Child|11250053|The Snow Child|Eowyn Ivey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327098624s/11250053.jpg|16176521]. 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 more 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 more. 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 [b:The Snow Child|11250053|The Snow Child|Eowyn Ivey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327098624s/11250053.jpg|16176521], 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 more great stories, full of beauty, magic and hope. God knows how much we need all three in this time of ours... ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
War hero leads a small band of men on an expedition up the Wolverine river in 1885. They suffer many hardships as this expedition is deemed impossible. There is a backstory of his wife in Washington state, a budding photographer and her love for photographing birds. Book was well written but a bit slow. I liked how the author moved back and forth with the present and the past. ( )
  janismack | Jul 12, 2018 |
I really thought I would enjoy this book because I loved her book, The Snow Child. I just couldn't get into this book. It's told in letter form pretty much and I just found it slow and boring. Others raved about this book but it wasn't for me. ( )
  written | Jun 30, 2018 |
There are many ways to tell a story, and the format an author uses to do so can impact on how that story is perceived. This is clearly evident in this month’s book by young author Eowyn Ivey.

The correspondence between Josh and Walt was well contrived and popular with most of our group. It helped to put the historical side of the story into perspective and also gave the reader respite from the hardships encountered during the exhibition.

The successive stories of Sophie and Allen Forrester also worked well and the amateur photographers in our group loved Sophie’s experiments with early photography. In fact, most of us loved Sophie and thought her a strong and enduring character that gave what might have been a purely adventure driven story, something a little more poignant.

There were some criticisms though. A small number found it a little hard to connect with. Unsure as to whether it was the format or content, they found the novel lacked some element of emotive centre which left them feeling slightly unfulfilled.

Discussion-wise we had plenty to satisfy us. We educated ourselves on the legends of ravens and shamans, origins around myths and customs, the advancement of women and their rights, and a few of us, having been to Alaska and its surrounds, enjoyed sharing the wonders of such a natural and beautiful place.

To end, it has to be said that Ivey’s research was top notch and there are moments in the reading where you forget that this is a novel, so realistically presented is this story.

An ideal addition to any book club’s reading list. ( )
  jody12 | Jun 7, 2018 |
I just loved this book. I read it in the middle of December after a year of amazing reads, and it stood out as a favorite. What struck me was the rich writing and fantastic character development in the story of a man who is tasked with charting a previously unnavigated portion of Alaska while his wife yearns to visit him and partake in his aventure with him. The setting was a main focus for the book and was so clearly described that I have a vivid image in my head of what they traveled through. There is so much to love in this book and I would especially recommend it to those who love epic adventure books, historical fiction, epistolary novels, strong female characters and anyone who loved The Endurance but wished for more women's involvement in the narrative.
( )
  HardcoverHearts | Mar 24, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eowyn Iveyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
VandenHeuvel, KiffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I looked directly into its eyes and knew that I understood nothing.
Richard K. Nelson on seeing an Alaska wolverine, Make Prayers to the Raven
Dedication
First words
Mr. Sloan, I warned you I am a stubborn old man.
Quotations
All that matters is how a man lives in this world.
You have an eye for the extraordinary, Sophie. It makes me wish all the more that you could have seen Alaska, only without our hardships, for I believe you would have spied something beyond what my poor senses could fathom. I found myself inadequate in the face of it. Only now, as I leave these shores behind, do 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 a grand, inscrutable wildness. Never are the people here allowed to forget that each of us is alive only by a small thread.
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Haiku summary
Amid Alaska's
majestic beauty, men are
insignificant.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316242853, Hardcover)

From the bestselling 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 18 Feb 2016 06:14:22 -0500)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads an exploratory expedition up the Wolverine River and into the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return. As they map the territory and gather information on native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his team can't escape the sense that some great, mysterious force threatens their lives. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions of a pregnant woman on her own, and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She, too, explores nature, through the new art of photography, unaware that the coming winter will test her own courage and faith to the breaking point. --… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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