Sunday, March 19, 2017

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey


I fell in love with Eowyn Ivey's writing when I read her first book The Snow Child almost five years ago. When I saw she was releasing a new book, I couldn't wait to read it. I was not disappointed!

To The Bright Edge of the World is set in the wilderness of Alaska along the Wolverine River, during a time when it was still being explored, when the native people with their mysteries and beliefs were the prevailing force of the unexplored lands. Told in letters and diary entries between a husband (Col. Forrester) and his wife (Sophie) as they navigate the early days of their marriage against the harsh Alaskan backdrop, I found this way of storytelling to be so enjoyable.

Even against this hard to imagine setting (so cold and isolated!), the story of Sophie and her unwavering strength living in the army barracks while her new husband is away exploring the Alaskan wilderness, won me over completely. I loved her! I loved her patience and desire to learn the rather new skill of photography, I loved that she wanted to be more than "wife", that was able to pull herself out of her grief. And that her desire to learn and be something was so strong she was able to overcome whatever gossip the women in town shared about her. Knowing her husband would only approve of her time spent photographing birds while he was gone, made me love and appreciate their relationship even more. Although it was painful to continue reading the length of the book after Sophie loses the child, knowing the miscommunication that happened in her relaying the news in a letter to Col. Forrester, I really admired her strength in getting through those months while she waited for him. I think that really made me rush through to the end,  I just needed to know that he came back safely and showed her he still loved her and wanted their marriage despite the loss of the child.

I also feel that the mystical elements that Col. Forrester experienced while exploring the Alaskan terrain fit perfectly in the wider context of the story too. That raven! And how it connected husband and wife over such great distance, really turned the story into something subtly magical that wasn't necessarily obvious at all times but still there throughout. Lingering under the surface. I think that is why I enjoy Ivey's writing so much. She added elements to the story that you could almost escape you, but added a depth unique to her way of story telling. This wasn't just a story of husband and wife exchanging letters, but so much more. And if anything, it made me want to visit Alaska and see those landscapes for myself.


To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
417 pages
Published by Little, Brown and Company

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