Set in the unknown Alaskan wilderness at the end of the 19th century, Colonel Allen Forrester receives a commission to successfully navigate the Wolverine River. The key to the riches of Alaska lies in this river, and Colonel Forrester must navigate it with a small group of men.
He cannot turn it down, even though he recently married and his Sophie, is pregnant with their first child. As her husband leaves, she does not relish the idea of living in a military barracks by herself for the next year. The novel switches points of view between Sophie and Colonel Forrester as they both navigate their own challenges, worlds apart.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
I always thought of Lewis and Clark when I read this book. Of course, their expedition was larger and covered far more ground. But Colonel Forrester also embarks on a dangerous journey. One from which he could never return. Adventuring into territory no one else has survived. I imagine Alaska being an incredibly dangerous place to travel sometimes, as even today, there are some areas that are only traversable by plane. Imagine having to figure out a way around an area like that or trying to get through it and failing.
Sophie is also on the adventure of a lifetime, as she is pregnant. Something others can tell you about, but you can only truly experience it for yourself. And without her husband there, it’s difficult for Sophie. Especially living on a military barracks, worrying if her husband might come home. What I enjoy most about this book is how it’s written. There are three perspectives.
Both Sophie and Colonel Forrest write in their separate journals as well as to each other in the form of letters. But the third perspective comes from someone in modern times, Walt Forrester, who is the nephew of Sophie and Colonel Forrester. He located their journals and sent them to a museum curator, Josh Sloan, in Alaska to have the journals transcribed. Walt explains that the journals could even be featured in a collection. Josh and Walt exchange several letters as Josh becomes increasingly excited about transcribing the journals. Turns out, he’s in the same area of Alaska as the expedition and follows on some of Colonel Forrester’s footsteps.
We may think of explorers and expeditions as just stories we read about in textbooks in high school, but Eowyn Ivey does a wonderful job of making it come to life. The challenges Colonel Forrester faces in the Alaskan wilderness are challenges we don’t have to worry about today. But walls of ice, glaciers, hypothermia, avalanches are very real to Colonel Forrester and his men.
The only problem I had with this book was the pacing. At times, it was a bit slow and I often confused some of the characters. But, overall, I would recommend this to a busy mom. It was a great way to escape reality into a completely different world and experience life during the 1880s when America was still wild.
Four out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, you might also like Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing To the Bright Edge of the World, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.