To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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One of the Best Books of 2016—AmazonA Washington Post Notable Book of 2016A Goodreads Choice Award NomineeA Library Journal Top 10 Book of 2016A BookPage Best of 2016 BookAn atmospheric, transporting tale of adventure, love, and survival from the bestselling author of The Snow Child, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. 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?The truths that Allen and Sophie discover over the course of that fateful year change both of their lives—and the lives of those who hear their stories long after they're gone—forever.
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9780316365598
Call Number: OverDrive ebook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From Library Staff

This lyrical novel tells the story of some explorers taking a trip into the Alaskan interior soon after the territory was purchased from Russia in the late 1800s. The Alaskan landscape comes alive, sometimes even with a little magical realism. You also hear from his wife at home who is becoming a... Read More »

When they venture into the uncharted land of life and death Lt. Col. Allen Forrester and his wife Sophia find strength in their desire to understand- the world around them- and each other.

When they venture into the uncharted land of life and death Lt. Col. Allen Forrester and his wife Sophia find strength in their desire to understand- the world around them- and each other.

multcolib_dianaa Sep 12, 2016

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m a little heartbroken that I’ve finished it.
I loved the wild Alaskan setting in this novel about explorers in the 1880s, the threads of magical realism, and the deep consideration of the place and its history.

multcolib_susannel Sep 18, 2016

When they venture into the uncharted land of love and death Lt. Col. Allen Forrester and his wife Sophia find their strength in their desire to understand- the world around them- and each other.

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Feb 03, 2021

Perhaps Eowyn Ivey, having been named after a J. R. R. Tolkien character, feels she has much to live up to. Certainly, she is a writer who doesn’t do things by halves or take shortcuts; not satisfied with writing a conventional novel consisting of plot, setting and character development, she conjures up a panoply of artifacts, correspondence, news clippings, illustrations, period photographs — and even invents a museum to hold the material she has created. By telling the story through correspondence and a collection of diary entries, reports and journal notes, the writer makes herself disappear and we find ourselves peeking over the shoulders of characters who have become real to us as they record their experiences, hopes and fears. Having invented a museum, she then sets a curator to deciphering the notes and examining the artifacts, hoping thereby to make sense of the story of an 1885 expedition, a tale that in places becomes fantastical. Which somehow prompted me to think of a Roman haruspex examining the entrails of a sheep to discover the will of the gods.
Forrester, the main protagonist is an upright, courageous fellow but not a particularly interesting character; he’s just the man in charge, the one likely to be blamed when things go wrong — which we know at the outset is sure to happen. It’s the richly drawn supporting cast that carries the day, as both the explorers and the wife who has been left behind undergo the changes that are wrought by their ordeal. Under physical and psychological stress, Pruitt, a soldier haunted by horrendous memories, begins to fade, step away from reality, taking refuge in poetic ramblings. The blunt, truculent Sgt Tillman, jolted by his encounter with a mysterious infant, terrorized by seemingly supernatural forces and stimulated by the presence of an exceptional woman, emerges as a stabilizing persona. Left to wait and wonder, Sophie progresses from bride to prospective mother to wildlife photographer and very much a woman of the future.
Native legends and spiritual beliefs, immersion in an untamed environment blur the lines between myth and reality. Forrester writes: ”I can find no account for all that 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.”
The disquieting presence of a malicious trickster, the “Man Who Flew with Black Wings” adds a suggestion of the paranormal, thereby adding another level of complexity to what might otherwise have been just a tale of extreme physical hardship (a theme that could have become tiresome if carried on for several hundred pages).
Altogether, an impressive, richly rendered and in places startling book.

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?

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