Book review: ‘To the Bright Edge of the World’ a blending of genres
June 15, 2017
‘To The Bright Edge of the World,’ by Eowyn Ivey
So excited Eowyn Ivey is coming to Literary Sojourn this year. Many years ago, at the debut of her first novel, “Snow Child,” she appeared at Breakfast in the Books at Off The Beaten Path Bookstore. She was engaging, funny, smart and a joy to listen to.
“To the Bright Edge of the World,” is a blend of historical fiction, expedition writing, native mythology and a dazzling love story. The beautiful title refers to the expedition that decorated war hero Col. Allen Forrester sets out on in 1885, following the Wolverine River in Alaska, beyond our known world.
His newly pregnant wife, Sophie, stays behind to navigate the social and political worlds of an officer's wife. Since her pregnancy is delicate, she has to cancel plans to join her husband in Alaska. Instead, she decides to pursue her love of photography and ornithology at home. The story unfolds in many forms: love letters between Sophie and Allen, current day correspondence between Sophie's nephew and a museum curator, Allen's journal, the colonel's official report to the military heads, drawings, maps, photographs, actual pages of an illustrated Midwifery book from 1822 and artifacts: All are sprinkled throughout to lend to the authenticity. This is a beautiful book to behold.
We recently read this book in book club, and it really appealed to all the women in the club due to the beautiful lyrical writing and the heartfelt love story. Many of us passed it off to our husbands, who are all enjoying it for the adventure. My husband said it reminded him of the discovery and excitement of reading books like Jack London when he was young. This book will appeal to lovers of adventure and romance.
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‘Into The Water,’ by Paula Hawkins
On to popular fiction, and you can't get more popular than Paula Hawkins, who wrote the blockbuster “Girl on The Train” last year. Her much-anticipated second novel uses the same compelling literary devices as “Girl on The Train,” so this is yet another fast-paced novel that takes you to some dark places.
Danielle Abbott, single mother of precocious 15-year-old, Lena, is found dead at the bottom of the river. This river seems to have hastened the demise of many troublesome women, starting all the way back to 1679 with Libby, a girl who had an affair with a married man, was deemed a witch and promptly drowned by the townspeople of Beckford.
Does Danielle's research into these women and the history of the river and drowning pool have anything to do with her death? Lena and her Aunt Jules are left in the wake of this sudden death to figure out what happened. Jules has to face the many demons of Beckford and the river she vowed never to return to. If you’re looking for a fast read, steeped in the mysteries surrounding a river and all that lies beneath the surface, this book is for you and fans of books like “Girl on The Train,” “Gone Girl” and The Widow.
Kim Brack is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path.
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