To the Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey

Review by AB

I’d like to think that it’s not a coincidence that as I sat down in my front porch rocking chair to write this review, I was fortunate to spot two especially large birds settling in the tall pines at the edge of our property. If you read To the Bright Edge of the World, you will understand the significance of such a moment. The love of birds and the mystery surrounding their nature plays an important role in the novel, but this story is not just for bird lovers.

Eowyn Ivey’s frame story (a story within a story) is a tale of love and adventure set in the 41qpsissbfL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_late 19th century. It follows Colonel Allen Forrester as he leads a treacherous expedition to find the source of Alaska’s Wolverine River, leaving behind his young wife and budding ornithologist Sophie at a military outpost.

The story is unique in that it is comprised entirely of letters and journal entries that Allen and Sophie (and others) write. The real-time nature of this format, the period photographs and drawings that are taken from real publications, and the unexplainable phenoma surrounding the events of the story keep the reader engaged and sympathetic toward the characters. The distinct voices of Ivey’s characters stir up a desire to see these wild, unkempt places that the author knows so well. If you’ve ever been to Alaska, as I have, you will be reminded of the vastness of its glaciers and forests at the same time that you are reminded of the courage of the people who call it home.

I give the book 4 stars only because of its slow start (this is no beach read), though the more I began to understand the characters, the less that bothered me.

Purchase To the Bright Edge of the World.

NOTABLE QUOTES:

“There is a mythical element to our childhood, it seems, that stays with us always. When we are young, we consume the world in great gulps, and it consumes us, and everything is mysterious and alive and fills us with desire and wonder, fear, and guilt. With the passing of the years, however, those memories become distant and malleable, and we shape them into the stories of who we are. We are brave, or we are cowardly. We are loving, or we are cruel.”

“There is hope in our wanting to be something better, even if we never manage it. Maybe that is what I can hold to. The wanting.”

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