Lieutenant 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 rich natural resources to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.
Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.
To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey was published in hardback by Tinder Press on 2 August 2016 and is the author's second novel.
I'm pleased to welcome Jo Worgan as a guest reviewer to Random Things today. Jo writes as Jo Hollywood, and her novel An Unextraordinary Life is available in paperback and ebook, The ebook is currently on offer for just 99p.
Jo is a married mother of two boys, her youngest has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In her spare time she writes for her local paper on the subject of autism and is currently writing her second romantic novel. Jo loves to read books of any genre. You can find Jo over on twitter at @mummyworgan and she also blogs at Brew and Books Review
Jo's review of To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
I quite literally jumped at the chance when I was given the opportunity to review this book. I had read The SnowChild by Eowyn Ivey back in 2013 and fell in love with all the magical characters in its tale of bittersweet love set in the harsh Alaska wintertime. Therefore I was hugely excited to read To the Bright Edge of theWorld, and wondered if it would enthrall me in the way in which TheSnow Child had. Well, it did. This book is so many things. It is an adventure story, a love story and a tale of magical happenings all rolled into one. I'll try to capture how much I adored this book that is a magical and breathtaking read.
So, to the bones of this book. The main story is that of a journey down the Wolverine River in Alaska during 1885. Previous attempts of this journey had failed, with many casualties and, so it was with great excitement and trepidation that Lieutenant Allen Forrester set off on his adventure with his small group of men. Their planned route is beautifully shown in the map that is at the beginning of the book, and this I found very helpful in following the progression their journey. Now, the descriptions of their journey, the unusual people that they meet and the stunning scenery are quite simply poetic. There is a gentleness to the writing, that is not rushed, but rather the reader is urged to savour the story that unfolds before them. We learn of the journey through the private journal that Allen keeps, as well as a few official reports. It is Allen's journal that fascinated me. Here we learn of his deepest thoughts and feelings. It is these journals that we learn of his love for his new wife, Sophie, and that there is something deeply touching and genuine about the love that they have for each other.
It is Sophie that I most connected with while reading this beautiful novel. She is left behind at home, while Allen goes off on his adventures. She is not your typical lady of the time, as she is not content to sit around the house, entertaining the other ladies and behaving as an officer's wife should. Instead, she is far happier rambling around the forest of the Vancouver barracks where she lives alone while he is gone, finding the local wildfire, climbing trees and enjoying the fresh air. She is a strong-willed woman and when Allen is off on his wild adventure, she too has an adventure of her own, one that will change her life forever. Just as we read Allen's journal entries, we read Sophie's journal and letters to Allen, which are heartfelt and loaded with emotion and longing for her husband to return safely home. I loved Sophie, mainly I think because she reminded me very much of Jo from Little Women. She is rebellious, witty and utterly charming.
Although this novel is about an adventure into the unknown Alaska of its day, it also leads us onto an adventure of love, relationships and magical happenings that lie deeply within the mountains of the Wolverine River. I cannot praise this book highly enough. If you enjoyed The Snow Child, then you will enjoy this book just as much. If you are new to the writings of Eowyn Ivey, then you are in for a wonderful treat. Grab a warm drink, wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy this tale of adventure, magic and long lasting love.
My thanks to Jo for this terrific review, and to the publisher who sent the copy for review.
Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, The Snow Child was published in twenty-six languages, and sold over 350,000 copies in the UK alone.
A former bookseller and journalist, Eowyn lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her husband and two daughters.
To The Bright Edge of the World is her second novel, and once again set against the backdrop of Eowyn's home state.
For more information, visit www.eowynivey.com
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @EowynIvey