To the Bright Edge of the World

By Eowyn Ivey,

Book cover of To the Bright Edge of the World

Book description


Set in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in THE SNOW CHILD (a Sunday Times bestseller, Richard and Judy pick and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Eowyn Ivey's TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD is a…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked To the Bright Edge of the World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Unlike Ivey’s other book The Snow Child, which grapples with the grief of infertility (a book I also love!), this book considers the opportunities a life without children allows for.

It opens with Lieutenant Colonel Allan Forrester as he prepares to lead an expedition into Alaska in 1885. His wife, Sophie, is an explorer in her own right and plans to accompany him—until they realize she’s pregnant and decide she has to stay behind.

Spoiler: Sophie miscarries and learns she will likely never be able to carry a baby to term. But this isn’t an endpoint for Sophie: instead,…

Ivey’s first novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her subsequent novel, lesser known, is more ambitious and by far my favorite of the two.

Set in 1885, To the Bright Edge of the World tells the story of Colonel Allen Forrester’s government reconnaissance mission up the Wolverine River into Alaska’s interior. A secondary story belongs to Sophie, Forrester’s pregnant wife, left behind to be tested in other ways.

The novel’s inspiration is a real expedition of that year up the Copper River, and Ivey does a masterful job of creating a world both accurate…

From Nancy's list on authentic Alaska by Alaskans.

Ivey’s novel imagines a magical realist mystery and adventure in the rocky and forbidding country where she herself lives, up a steep dirt road in Alaska’s backcountry. Like her first novel, The Snow Child, which was an international phenomenon, this story is thick with metaphor. But this second book is more mature, as well as hauntingly written and absolutely compelling and resistant to being put down. I read it while at a remote Alaska cabin myself, and I felt surrounded by the spirits she describes, as if transported back to that period, just before the indigenous world was trampled…

To the Bright Edge of the World is the story of a strong, young woman who learns to manage on her own after her new husband leaves to explore the Arctic on a military expedition, just a few years before the onset of the Alaskan gold rush. The author is from Alaska, so her landscape descriptions are spot on, and the husband’s letters from the north are fraught with tension. But the primary nuggets of gold in this novel are the wife’s ruminations about life and humanity, including arrogance, strong women, and the freedom to pursue one’s passion.

From G.'s list on for escaping to Alaska.

I heard about this book while touring through Alaska to promote my own novel. Without fail, in every book store I visited, I was told I must read it. This novel deserves all the superlatives that have been heaped upon it. Set on the trail in Alaska and in the Vancouver barracks (in present-day Washington state), it’s an epic story of exploration, myth, and love that ties the present to a grueling 1885 expedition. A particular joy of this story is how it’s told through letters, journal entries, reports, maps, and peculiar drawings and photographs. I felt like the author…

From Peggy's list on pacific northwest history.

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