Title: To the Bright Edge of the World
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Published: August 2016
Summary: Set in the 1880s, Colonel Forrester embarks on a dangerous mission to scout the newly acquired state of Alaska’s Wolverines River. As he is experiencing the great wilderness, the struggles of snowy landscapes, and the wonders of native tribe mysticism, he leaves behind his new wife. Sophie is not the average housewife circa 1880s and is instead curious and full of scientific inquiry. Sophie is left behind to battle her own struggles of missing her husband, living in a gossipy town, and perhaps worst of all, boredom.
My Thoughts: This book is beautifully written. Sometimes the writing is so good that I forgot there was an author behind the story. That is the sort of experience I had while reading Ivey’s work, which was made even more intense by the hardcover book’s journal-like quality, complete with snippets of newspaper, photos, and other artifacts. At times I actually felt like I was paging through a collection of writings alongside the museum curator. That being said, I didn’t breeze through this book. The writing is dense and nuanced, and the story-line is subtle and slow. I had to take a break mid-way through to read something a little lighter. Parts of the book were a bit snoozey for me, page upon page of Sophie’s love of birds and photography, but I feel as though I was rewarded in the end with a sense of having accomplished reading a book that was outside of my traditional picks. This is exactly what a book club is intended to do, make you read something you would not have otherwise picked up and this time it paid off.
Book Club Discussion: This book club meeting was extra special as it was the first time we met in person for our discussion. We all were at my sister’s house for her baby shower, and although we were exhausted after a successful party celebrating the baby-to-be, we rallied and spent a few minutes discussing this month’s pick, which was Erin’s choice. Everyone enjoyed the book overall, most of us agreed that it was our favorite read so far among the other picks this year. The magical experiences of Native life that we saw through Colonel Forrester’s point of view was an aspect that we all enjoyed, and like Walt and Joshua, didn’t quite know what to make of it. Both my mom and Erin have read Ivey’s other book, Snow Child, which both really liked and found that the magical realism was also present and effective in that book. We found it sometimes difficult to keep the characters straight as well as imagining the map of Colonel Forrester’s expedition. It took Janette, my mom, and I quite a while to read the book and thought it was a good, but slow read, while Erin read it in one week.
Next Month’s Pick: News of the World by Paulette Jiles