Got to admit, I love the first half of winter, the bit before Christmas, with it’s sparkly lights and mounting excitement. But as soon as New Years Day is out of the way I am desperate for the long, dark days to end. However, this winter is showing no signs of abating so I am just going to have to put another log on the fire and embrace the cosiness for a little longer.
I have been reading a succession of winter themed books since September (perhaps that is why I’m all wintered-out?). I suspect I will still be reading them in March.
To the Bright Edge of the World is by Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child and it’s another of her books to be set against the harsh Alaskan winter. Based in 1885, Colonel Allen Forrester has accepted a year-long mission to navigate Alaska’s Wolverine River and explore America’s newly acquired territory. He leaves behind his pregnant wife, Sophie who had been desperate to join her husband at least part of the way. However she is confined to waiting the year out in the Vancouver barracks, where she faces traumas of her own.
The book reads as a series of diary entries by both Sophie and Allan, interspersed with modern-day letters between Allan’s elderly great-nephew and an Alaskan museum curator who has taken on the collection of letters and journals years later.
It is such a fascinating story of a harrowing expedition and of encounters with native Indians along the way. But it also tells of the attitude of fear and ignorance towards the people who save their lives on many occasions. There were moments in this book which made me gasp at the beauty and rawness of the writing. Sophie’s story is as engaging as Allan’s as she navigates her way through the restrictions put on women in pregnancy at the time and to realise her ambition to explore wildlife and develop her fascination with the exotic birds she sees.
I give this book 4 stars.