The Still Point

The Still Point

4.0 3
by Amy Sackville
     
 

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Arctic explorer Edward Mackley sets out to reach the North Pole and vanishes into the icy landscape without a trace. He leaves behind a young wife, Emily, who awaits his return for decades, her dreams and devotion gradually freezing into rigid widowhood.

A hundred years later, on a sweltering mid-summer’s day,

Overview

At the turn of the twentieth century, Arctic explorer Edward Mackley sets out to reach the North Pole and vanishes into the icy landscape without a trace. He leaves behind a young wife, Emily, who awaits his return for decades, her dreams and devotion gradually freezing into rigid widowhood.

A hundred years later, on a sweltering mid-summer’s day, Edward’s great-grand-niece Julia moves through the old family house, attempting to impose some order on the clutter of inherited belongings and memories from that ill-fated expedition, and taking care to ignore the deepening cracks within her own marriage. But as afternoon turns into evening, Julia makes a discovery that splinters her long-held image of Edward and Emily’s romance.

The Still Point slaloms through past, present, and future, with dreams revealing a universal simultaneity to the choices we must all make in the faces of love and passion. Long-listed for the Orange Prize, The Still Point is a powerful literary debut, masterfully told in the language of the heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sackville drifts seamlessly between past and present in her beautifully written debut, the split story of the last days of fictional 19th-century Arctic explorer Edward Mackley, and a day in the life of his great-great-niece, Julia, and her husband, Simon, a hundred years later. Julia and Simon live in Edward's brother's house, surrounded by artifacts of Edward's life's work. Julia spends her days archiving Edward's collection, reading his diaries, and developing deep attachments to the characters involved in her ancestor's story--particularly his young wife, Emily, whom Julia fashions into a Persephone figure, brave and patient as she awaits Edward's return. While the two couples live vastly different lives, there are glimpses--often funny, sometimes painful--of Julia and Simon's strained marriage tucked into the flowery prose of Emily and Edward's romance, revealing them all to be idealists with the unfortunate luck to grind against reality, none with more force than Edward, whose ship never returns. Sackville is a canny observer and a dry wit who can tease a trace of significance out of even the most mundane corners of domesticity. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In the attic of a rambling Victorian house, Julia spends a hot summer day labeling memorabilia from her ancestor Edward Mackley, a 19th-century British Arctic explorer who died in the snow before reaching the North Pole. Her attempts to catalog his life are hindered by her emotional attachment to the mythic past, her own painful history, and her tentative relationship with her husband, Simon. The narrative moves among the horrendous frozen trek of Mackley and his crew 100 years earlier; the tedious life of manners endured by his bride, Emily, as she awaits his return in the same Victorian house; Simon's present-day struggle to resist an affair; and Julia's languid movements through this single day where she tries to come to terms with the truth of the past and the realities of love. VERDICT Sackville has written a dreamily poetic debut novel that is equally vivid in conjuring up the stark cold of the Arctic and the oppressive heat of an English summer. Captivating and poignant.—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Ron Charles
[Sackville's] first novel…captures all the bizarre extremes of the North Pole, from the face-freezing temperatures of the Arctic to the overheated romance of the endeavor, from bracing adventure to stultifying dullness. But her real interest is the predicament of those left behind by these obsessed heroes. How, she asks, can any of us go about our tepid lives in the shadow of men who lived, however briefly, at the top of the world?
—The Washington Post
Sophia Lear
Sackville wields language like a wand, calling up the look and feel of two disparate landscapes. Her prose reminds us of the pleasure in being carried to far-off worlds by words alone: the feat feels magical, not technical.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582437095
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
01/01/2011
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

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The Still Point: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel quietly invites you into the world of 100 years ago on an expedition to the Pole, and the contemporary English young woman living in her own skin as well as a family heirloom house. You learn about 2 generations in her family and the relationships that formed her life. Well written and worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago