I am back with a book review! (Something something toddlers something something no time to read...) And what a book this was - I actually have a couple more in progress at the moment, but this was the first in a long while that made me make time to read it quickly. I felt like my old, pre-mom self again while reading this one, especially on the nights when I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning because I could not put it down. 🙀
A brief synopsis for context: As the hero of To the Bright Edge of the World, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester leads an Alaskan expedition (primarily on foot) from the mouth of the Wolverine River to Kulgadzi Lake, and then north to the Yukon River to catch a steamboat back home. His wife, Sophie Forrester, stays behind at their cabin in the Vancouver Barracks, where she occupies her mind and time learning photography. Her subject of choice is birds (a woman after my own heart), particularly nesting birds. The story is written as a compilation of historical documents, transcribed diaries, and photographs, all of which have been organized by a museum director in Alpine, Alaska. It's a great way to organize the text, especially because Ivey did so much research to write this novel. Even though it's fiction, it still feels like history coming alive at your fingertips - at one point I checked her map against Google Maps and got a little thrill from finding that all the landmarks are, in fact, real. I'm ready to pack a bag and see it myself!
I approached this book already predisposed to loving it, since The Snow Child earned a place forever in my heart a few years back. That being said, it's actually difficult to find much of a connection between the two books, other than Ivey's enviable mastery of the language. The one common thread I did pull out was the fantastical nature of the Alaskan wilderness; in fact, in this most recent book, the events tend more toward the supernatural the deeper the travelers get into unexplored territory. There's a really nice tension throughout between what the scientifically-minded Forrester is willing to believe and what he's actually seeing.
I won't spoil the ending for you, but I will say that it is so wonderfully human. I can't even categorize it as "good" or "bad," because it's so much of both blended together. It is an incredibly satisfying ending, which is the most important trait to me. I've officially started following Ivey on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, because I want to know the minute she releases another book!
(Image from Goodreads.com)