Monday, September 25, 2017

To the bright edge of the world by Eowyn Ivey


Eowyn Ivey's writing is flawless just as it was in her debut novel, The Snow Child. I treasured reading each entry as I became more connected to the characters.

Colonel Forrester's journey takes him away from his new bride, Sophie, and into the Alaskan wilderness to gather information about Native tribes and the land. Sophie had planned to go until she finds out days before departure that she is pregnant and won't be able to make the trip. She is devastated but manages to find herself deeply immersed in photography and bird-watching. The book is told in alternating diary entry format with Col. Forrester, Lieut. Pruitt, photographer for the journey, and Sophie back in Vancouver at the barracks sharing with us in 1885 and Josh, Alaskan Native historian and Walt, Col. Forrester's great-nephew who is interested in preserving artifacts from the trip that have been left in his possession in present day.

The expedition is far tougher than any could have predicted; both for Sophie and the Colonel and his men. Ivey's words far outweigh my ramblings on the topic so let me share just a few passages so you may know the beauty of this historical novel.

Sophie Forrester
January 6, 1885

Oh, such amazing news! The General has granted permission so that I will accompany Allen and his men on the steamer north! for days now it has seemed increasingly unlikely, and I am certain it was only Allen's steady, persistent resolve that has won me passage. Of course, I go only as far as Sitka and will return to the barracks the end of February; I will not even set eyes on the northern mainland where their true adventure will begin, but I am thrilled all the same. (17)

Lieut. Col. Allen Forrester
April 7, 1885

Like a salve to me, her letter. I waited as long as I might, but after this hard day of travel, I needed the comfort of her words.
For two months, I have carried this letter unopened in my breast pocket, yet I swear the pages are still touched by her fragrance. To read those words, written in her hand. 'Our child.'

Sophie Forrester
May 14, 1885

I have been thinking of light, the way it collected in the rain drops that morning I was so full of joy, and the way it shifts and moves in unexpected ways, so that at times this cabin is dark and cool and the next filled with golden warmth.
Father spoke of a light that is older than the stars, a divine light that is fleeting yet always present if only one could recognize it. It pours in and out of the souls of the living and dead, gathers in the quiet places in the forest, and on occasion, might reveal itself in the rarest of true art. (202)

I could go on with many beautiful quotes from the text illuminating her perfect words.  Ivey's books thrill me and I will happily recommend to all my book-loving friends. I anxiously await what ever she brings next. To the bright edge of the world I will follow...


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