To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

If it has Eowyn Ivey's name on it, I'm going to pick it up.  The allure of Alaskan history didn't really grab me, but again, it had her name on it, so I decided to give it a try- and I'm so glad I did!  The narrative is told entirely in epistolary format (via letters and correspondence for those of you who had to look that up like I did), and unless you are a master storyteller, it usually doesn't work.  Well readers, meet the master.  The letters of Captain Allen Forrester and his wife, Sophie mark what each is going through while he is out mapping the Alaskan frontier, and Ivey holds you in the palm of her yarn-spinning hands.  From a mysterious man in black who seems to have no age and no physical limitations  to a woman who heralds intense rolling fog with her wherever she roams, Captain Forrester's journey turns out to be more than just a harrowing winter exploration.  The further up the wild Wolverine River his expedition gets, the more cryptic the tales of the native people become until the explorers have a strange experience or two themselves.  And not everyone will make it out alive.
Other sections of the book are told through the present-day letters of a museum curator and an old man who's family has lived along the Wolverine River for generations.  He has some fascinating historical items that relate directly back to Allen's death-defying journey and some of the pieces support the otherworldly aspects of the story that have never been substantiated.
If you are in the mood for historical fiction with just a wisp of the mystical, this one is the perfect fit.  Utterly compelling reading.

— Jessilynn Norcross

To the Bright Edge of the World  by Eowyn Ivey just made my personal Top-10 as in, it has EVERYTHING – a tense but poignant storyline, nature and geographical elements in their most dazzling and brutal states, historical references, native mythical influences, fascinating and noble characters even with their flaws.  And love, loss and redemption.  Really, it’s a book for anyone to savor.

By the author of The Snow Child (a Pulitzer finalist), it is a fictional account of an Alaskan exploratory expedition funded by the US Military in 1885 to map the Wolverine and Yukon river territories.   Led by war hero and newlywed Colonel Allen Forrester, the small group is joined sporadically through their arduous journey by trappers, native tribal guides and possibly a mythical creature whose story spans decades.   Their deteriorating health becomes secondary as reality begins to erode with each harrowing encounter, storm and mountain pass. 

Back in Fort Vancouver Barracks and in desperate need of a diversion, the Colonel’s wife, Sophie, learns to use a camera and develop film to capture her passion for the surrounding natural elements.  As she bucks the traditional role in the military wives hierarchy, Sophie’s housekeeper/companion is recruited to be her assistant (work she welcomes and for which she is well-suited), as her work eventually achieves acclaim and publishing rights.

This work of historical fiction is in epistolary format and provides a “you are there” quality.  It expands the disparate voices and impressions of events through correspondence, journal entries, military reports and news articles.  The book is peppered throughout with fascinating pictures and maps.

It is apparent that the author’s roots, heart and current home are in Alaska; and that the painstaking tasks of collection and research for this masterpiece were a work of love.

— From Karen McCue


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.

"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 nature . . . An absorbing and high-stakes read." -- Kathleen Rooney, Chicago Tribune

An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Book
A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
A Library Journal Top 10 Book of the Year
A BookPage Best Book of the Year

About the Author

Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and an international bestseller published in twenty-six languages. A former bookseller and newspaper reporter, Eowyn was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters.

Praise For…


"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

"The real journey in Eowyn Ivey's new novel transcends the physical landscape to a netherworld of magical, mysterious and sometimes diabolical proportions."
Betty J. Cotter, Providence Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316242837
ISBN-10: 0316242837
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Pages: 432
Language: English
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