To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World

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by Eowyn Ivey

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An atmospheric, transporting tale of adventure, love, and survival from the bestselling author of The Snow Child, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast,


An atmospheric, transporting tale of adventure, love, and survival from the bestselling author of The Snow Child, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return—once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits him.

The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead. And while the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives.

Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. Can her exploration of nature through the new art of photography help her to rediscover her sense of beauty and wonder?

The truths that Allen and Sophie discover over the course of that fateful year change both of their lives—and the lives of those who hear their stories long after they're gone—forever.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Amy Greene
…powerful…Ivey is a gifted storyteller and a lyrical prose stylist…but this historical novel's foremost strength may be its contemporary relevance. Josh Sloan, the museum curator who is putting together an exhibit of artifacts from Forrester's expedition, reflects upon reading the colonel's mythic tales of restless spirits and untameable wilderness: "I'm not saying that other world is gone, because I'm not convinced it is. Maybe we just don't have the eyes for it anymore." We often count on our artists to see the wild beauty our civilized eyes no longer can, to remind us, as Ivey does in her remarkable new book, what the land has allowed. We might take away from her poetic prose what those first explorers discovered. Nature is something greater than ourselves, something sacred that can't be claimed as our own.
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/13/2016
An 1885 wilderness expedition, a female pioneer of photography, and Native American myths come to life make Ivey’s second novel (after The Snow Child) an entrancing, occasionally chilling, depiction of turn-of-the-century Alaska. Through diaries, letters, reports, newspaper clippings, drawings, and photographs, Ivey evokes an Indian Wars veteran’s expedition up the Wolverine River into Alaska’s northern interior. Colonel Allen Forrester’s mission is to map the territory, make contact with inhabitants, and collect information for future (military or commercial) enterprises. While his wife, Sophie, remains in Vancouver, Forrester sets off with the intellectually gifted Pruitt and Sergeant Tillman, a rough-and-tumble miner’s son. Others joining the party include a trapper, his partner, a Native American woman who claims to have slit her husband’s throat, and a dog. But the strangest traveling companion, more nemesis than guide, is an old Native American known as the Man Who Flies on Black Wings, who is reputed to be a raven who can take the form of man. Bogged down by the terrain and his own ignorance, loosening ties to civilization if not reality, Pruitt succumbs to memories, and Forrester refuses to shoot wild geese fearing they may be humans in animal form. Sophie, meanwhile, learns to use a camera, building her own darkroom and a hunter’s blind to photograph bird nests in the wild. Years later, a descendant of the Forresters donates their journals and artifacts to a museum in the small town now on the expedition route, site of rafting tours and a million-dollar fishing lodge. In this splendid adventure novel, Ivey captures Alaska’s beauty and brutality, not just preserving history, but keeping it alive. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

To the Bright Edge of the World moves seamlessly through different times and different voices to depict an often harrowing journey that leads the central characters to question all that they 'have known as real & true.' Ivey's novel is a dazzling depiction of love, endurance, courage, and wonder, and a worthy successor to The Snow Child."
Ron Rash, author of Serena

Beautifully told...a page-turner, a fascinating story that is broad in its scope as it is compassionate in its message...Ivey has created a world that is dangerous and beautiful, worrisome and satisfying, all in a novel that readers will not soon forget."
Jim Carmin, The Miami Herald

Powerful...Ivey is a gifted storyteller and a lyrical prose stylist...remarkable."
Amy Greene, New York Times Book Review

An epic adventure story that seems heir to the tradition of Melville's own sweeping and ambitious literary approach to the age-old struggle of humans versus absorbing and high-stakes read."
Kathleen Rooney, The Chicago Tribune

To the Bright Edge of the World is a glorious feast of American mythology. In it, Eowyn Ivey's Alaska blooms vast and untouchable, bulging with mystery and wonder, and lit by an uneasy midnight sun. On this haunted stage, the lines between man and beast are blurred, and Ivey has etched her most compelling characters: the incorruptible, determined Sophie Forrester, who wrestles with the rules of men and polite society; and her husband, the explorer Allen Forrester, who struggles mightily against the uncivilized Alaskan wilderness with its ragged teeth. Gorgeously written, utterly un-put-downable, To the Bright Edge of the World sweeps its reader to the very brink of known territory, and presents that bright edge in stark relief: gleaming, serrated, unforgiving. As with The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey has once again written a magical, breathtaking novel that I just cannot put out of my mind."
Jason Gurley, author of Eleanor

An exceptionally well-turned adventure tale...Heartfelt, rip-snorting storytelling."
Kirkus (Starred Review)

Eowyn Ivey is a deft craftswoman, attentive to the shape and heft of her sentences...[she] fashions characters who come to warm and vivid life against her frozen Alaskan landscapes...What could be a better beach read than an arctic adventure?"
Geraldine Brooks, Guardian (US Edition)

A stunning and intriguing novel combining the epic adventurous sweep of Alaska with minutely beautifully observed details—the reader finishes it wiser and richer."
Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister and The Quality of Silence

All the pleasures of a great novel are here—the well-crafted sentence, the deft pacing, the compelling plot, and characters that we care passionately about. Add to those already significant achievements a few eerie hints of the supernatural, some nail-biting mystery/thriller drama, the understanding that's gained from historically accurate details, and the endorphin rush of a love story. And then consider that the novel's construction provides yet another pleasure, the pleasure of the puzzle, as the reader gets to participate in the assemblage of journal entry, letter, drawing, and artifact, therefore co-creating this epic Alaskan adventure. How can one novel contain such richness? Eowyn Ivey is a wonder."
Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

An entrancing, occasionally chilling, depiction of turn-of-the-century Alaska...In this splendid adventure novel, Ivey captures Alaska's beauty and brutality, not just preserving history, but keeping it alive."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Ivey deftly draws the reader into the perils of the journey...a compelling historical saga of survival."
Booklist (Starred Review)

Ivey not only makes [this novel] work, she makes it work magnificently...The Snow Child (a lovely retelling of an old Russian folk tale), was a runaway hit, an international best seller, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her second work is even better."—Library Journal, (Starred Review)

Ivey's characters, without exception, are skillfully wrought and pull the narrative forward with little effort. She does not stoop to blanket depictions of tribal life or Victorian women, and instead has created a novel with all of the fine details that make historical fiction such an adventure to read. Fans of The Snow Child will not be disappointed."—Meganne Fabrega, Minneapolis Star Tribune"

Lustrous...Ivey's writing is assured and deftly paced. She presents a pleasing chorus of voices and writing styles in an amalgam of journals, letters, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, official reports and more...The couple's moving love story binds the multilayered narrative together...Ivey's first novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her follow-up act is certain to garner its own accolades as readers discover its many unfolding pleasures."—David Takami, Seattle Times"

An 1880's Alaskan adventure that really delivers...a rip-roaring frontier adventure."
Ellen Hoffman, Business Insider

Raises the personal stakes and the emotional payoff to impressive new levels...a stunning and subtle performance...This is enchanted writing."
Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor

An American masterpiece...beautifully written, fast-paced, wide-ranging, historically-based, and creatively imagined and structured...It delivers in all the ways a great novel should...deserves every accolade it will surely receive."
Nancy Lord, Alaska Dispatch News

Ivey's simultaneous wide scope and focus on detail are part of what makes this novel so absorbing. It's no mere testosterone-fueled tale of heroism. Her narrative encompasses, however fleetingly, the girls and women at the margins."
Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe

Read it for the adventure. Read it for the time you'll spend thinking about it long after you've turned the last page."
Erin Kodicek, Omnivoracious"

Spellbinding...a cracking adventure that pulses with emotional power and a brutal kind of beauty...brings history and folklore to life in a visceral and utterly beguiling way."
Stephanie Harrison, Bookpage, Top Pick in Fiction for August

A riveting story of adventure, mystery and love...Ivey populates her novel with rich supporting characters...a spellbinding Pacific Northwest historic fiction."
Shelf Awareness

This rich blend of adventure bravado and contemplative memoir, past and present, reinvigorates the idea of a historical novel."
The National Book Review

You feel the excitement and the wonder that [the characters] are experiencing. This is another magical novel from her [Ivey]."
Book Riot

A terrific example of why we love these stories of man-against-nature. But it also aspires to be something's evident from Ivey's two books that she is also interested in the inexplicable magic of the world—real or imagined—that hovers just beyond our conscious perceptions. And so, while she is certainly deft at conveying the 'gray rivers that roar down from the glaciers, mountains & spruce valleys,' she is equally at home dropping a sea monster into those waters...To the Bright Edge of the World is a moving, surprising story. The Artic Addict in me is very grateful that Ivey wrote it."—Chris Bohjalian, The Washington Post"

An epic adventure intertwined with a story of genuine love."
Shawna Seed, The Dallas Morning News

Beautifully'll get lost in the details and become engrossed in the love story playing out...Simply wonderful, and I cannot recommend it enough."
Amy Gwiazdowski, BookReporter"

It's safe to say that Ivey fans will not be disappointed by this spine-tingling romantic odyssey."
David Fox, Anchorage Press

Library Journal
As evidenced by her New York Times best seller, The Snow Child, also a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Ivey writes with an arresting blend of near-mythic sensibility and gorgeous, soaring exactitude that she should put to good use in this second novel. In the chill of an 1885 Alaska winter, Lt. Col. Allen Forrester launches an expedition up the unforgiving Wolverine River, intent on assessing the country's newly acquired territory and indigenous peoples. He's desperate to get the job done and return to his pregnant wife, but the Alaskan wilds aren't called wild for nothing. With a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-05-17
A husband and wife explore separate but parallel frontiers in the wild Northwest of the late 1800s.Ivey's superb second novel (The Snow Child, 2012) is mainly composed of two braided journals. One is by Allen, an Army colonel who fought Apaches in Arizona in the 1860s but by 1885 has a gentler temperament and wants to explore the Wolverine River in southern Alaska. The other is by his wife, Sophie, who'd be eager to join him if it weren't for know-your-place lectures from fellow Army wives. Allen and his small band endure a host of familiar travails—scarce food and ammunition, bad weather, skeptical natives. But his secret, unofficial diary also includes more surrealistic experiences, like a discovered newborn baby whose umbilical cord is connected to a tree root. Back at the Army barracks, Sophie discovers she's pregnant but soon miscarries—most likely due to the opium tinctures prescribed by her condescending doctor—and discovers photography as a way to navigate through her grief. Ivey means to say that Allen and Sophie are equally pioneering to the extent that society of the time allowed them to be, but first and foremost this is an exceptionally well-turned adventure tale, rich with Allen's confrontations with brutal snowstorms and murky underwater beasts and Sophie's more interior efforts to learn her craft and elbow local busybodies out of her way. Brief, poetic entries and sketches by a member of Allen's cohort give the story a series of lyrical grace notes, and Ivey anchors the tale in present-day correspondence between Allen's great-nephew and the curator of a museum to whom he's sent Allen's journals. Those letters make an elegant and affecting argument that though the territory is tamer now, not everything that makes it spiritually inspiring has been thawed out and paved over. Heartfelt, rip-snorting storytelling.

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
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Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

Meet the Author

Eowyn LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She received her BA in journalism and minor in creative writing through the honors program at Western Washington University, studied creative nonfiction at the University of Alaska Anchorage graduate program, and worked for nearly 10 years as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Snow Child.

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To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous 21 days ago
This book is superb. Not to be missed.