To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

I greatly enjoyed Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child:

It was an evocative and deeply human story with a fairy tale woven in. And like so many fairy tales and folklore – not the Disney versions – this one was touched with sorrow and tragedy. But also infused with love and hope and beauty as they really exist.

Gorgeous prose, a wonderfully developed setting that become a character of its own, and a great cast of characters make this a novel with depth and emotion – a heft belied by the fairy tale at it heart.

So I was excited to read her second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, a beautiful and engaging epistolary novel.

It reads like the documentation of real history rather than fiction. It moves from the interior thoughts and emotions of its characters to the historic events that surround them, and the interaction of people across social, cultural and language boundaries, all while sucking you into this gripping story of a fantastical expedition and its impact on both the future and the lives of a young marriage threatened by the separation it causes.

Ivey deftly develops the characters both as they react to events and as they reflect on their unique past; family, events, defining moments. You dive deep into the private lives of the characters but also subtly pull back to see the long term impact of the events that drive the story and how they ripple through lives generations later.

And mixed throughout is the possibility of the supernatural.  She does not assume that the folklore and mythology of the native cultures is superstition from the past.  And the characters encounter events and circumstances which cause them to question what they think and know.  Ivey deftly allows this mystery to exist without choosing sides.

Truly a creative masterpiece.

 

To the Bright Edge of the World Book Cover To the Bright Edge of the World
Eowyn Ivey
Fiction
Little, Brown and Company
August 2, 2016
432

Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she bought to stunningly vivid life in THE SNOW CHILD, Eowyn Ivey's new novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret. Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy. For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part. A story shot through with a darker but potent strand of the magic that illuminated THE SNOW CHILD, and with the sweep and insight that characterised Rose Tremain's The Colour, this new novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Eowyn Ivey singles her out as a major literary talent.

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