To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World

A Novel

Book - 2016 | First edition
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In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return--once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits him. The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead. And while the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives. Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. Can her exploration of nature through the new art of photography help her to rediscover her sense of beauty and wonder?
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316242851
Branch Call Number: F IVE NVD
Characteristics: 417 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm


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Jan 17, 2021

Based on some real people and events, this is the story of Colonel Allen Forrester and his journey into unmapped Alaska after the U.S. purchase of the territory. It's also the story of his wife, Sophie, who does some trailblazing of her own back on base. The story is told in multiple ways: letters, journal entries, official reports, photos, news clippings, artifacts, and in multiple timelines with multiple POVs. I'm usually a sucker for this kind of (lack of?) format and structure, and while I found this interesting, it was overlong and heavy-handed at times. I can't help but compare it to Ivey's much better The Snow Child; both books had elements of magical realism, but in The Snow Child they are seamlessly woven in and beautifully mystical. In this, they're telegraphed and announced -- "look, here we go, here comes something funky." But, I'm still happy I read it and I enjoyed Ivey's beautiful prose and being transported to a time and place I knew nothing about.

Oct 22, 2019

At this point, I would follow Eowyn Ivey anywhere. Her books are incredibly creative and the writing is carefully considered. In To the Bright Edge of the World, there is a wonderful juxtaposition between the "new" and the "old" - a husband traveling through Alaska in one of the first parties to trespass that part of the world, and encountering a host of things that were thought to be either myth/legend or long gone as well as tribes of people whose ways have not changed in a very long time; and his wife, who is learning that she has a talent for photography, and home photography is, at this time, a new thing and extremely complicated and cutting edge. We're seeing these two people through their letters and diaries, which are being exchanged through a descendant of the couple and a man who runs a museum in the part of the Alaskan wilderness in present day, and there, too, you have that juxtaposition of "old" and "new," though reversed - it's now the Alaskan citizen who is younger and more adaptable with modern ideas, and the older man, who is resistant to change. It's a really wonderful book, made so even more by the descriptions of the Alaskan wilds, which become more than a setting to the novel, elevating itself almost to another character. The mythology vs. science was done so creatively. It's an incredible book and one I recommend to many people for many of the same reasons I recommend The Great Alone (for the Alaskan aspects) and the novels of Jane Harper, where the land becomes such a critical factor in the novels.

Sep 03, 2019

Kirkus Star Review - Alaska - historical fiction - was Book Club Selection - 26 copies at Library
Author also wrote Snow Child about early Alaska that I read and liked.

Aug 28, 2019

This is a really great book! It does bounce around between time frames though so if you don't like those, it's one of them. If you are fine with the time frame jumps, and the "Out in the bush" type stories are your thing then you should like this book.

Feb 26, 2019

This beautifully written historical fiction is based on journeys undertaken in the late nineteenth century through uncharted areas of Alaska. The story (set in 1885) consists primarily of journal/diary entries, old photographs, letters, and descriptions of old artifacts. The reader travels along with Colonel Allen Forrester as he leads an expedition up the Wolverine River and encounters the Midnooskies (Russian word for “People of the Copper River”) and the Wolverine River Indians (Ahtna and Eyak tribes). He leaves behind his pregnant wife, Sophie, who encounters trials and adventures of her own at the Vancouver Barracks (near Portland).
Although the story unfolds slowly, there is lots of suspense and atmosphere. Wonderful!

Oct 22, 2018

At page 100 you are intrigued. At page 200 you are fascinated. At page 300 you are completed captured. At page 400 you are . . . speechless. In your memory you will "read" this book for years.

Sep 22, 2018

History, geography, suspense, mystery, love, can you ask for more!?
Very well written, a page turner!

Jun 28, 2018

Adventure, relationships, character driven, history, great setting, well written: One of the better novels I've read in a while.

Jun 23, 2018

A profound and important novel that will likely change how you view history and nature. The author has woven a masterpiece that mashes fiction and fact and leads one to the inescapable conclusion that much of what we see is ultimately unknowable. The epilogue reveals what I suspected, that the book is loosely based on the exploration of AK by Henry Allen -- a feat that some consider to be greater than the Lewis and Clark expedition. But the book goes much farther, probing our very powers of observation and unearthing powerful questions about cultural preservation (Alaska Native lives were forever changed after miners and the military penetrated the Alaskan interior). Read this book and you will never look at Canada Geese the same way. Did I mention it is also an epic love story?

Jun 06, 2018

I was so THERE in this novel, partly because of my many hours backpacking in the northwest, so I could easily visualize the environment, weather, etc. Got to love the main characters, each with their individual weaknesses well constructed by author. The mysticism was a kick for me. I thought Ivey made it as believable as possible given the times. Lovely book.

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