To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

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.

To the Bright Edge of the World, page 138

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn IveyI should have known that an author named after a character in The Lord of the Rings would turn out glorious fiction. There’s not much more I really need to say about To the Bright Edge of the World. It is glorious. I suppose I should tell you what it’s about and what I liked about it, but really all you need to know is that it’s glorious–now go read it.

Ok, ok. It’s set in the Alaskan and Washington Territories in 1885. It’s written as an alternating series of journal entries between Colonel Allen Forrester and his young wife Sophie, with occasional interludes of museum artifacts from Colonel Forrester’s historic expedition into the Alaskan wilderness. It’s a survival story in more than one sense, and a love story in every sense.

There are strange creatures, eerie settings, and weird phenomena. There’s a loyal dog, wild geese, a raven, and a hummingbird.

I normally don’t read modern literature because it’s not usually to my taste, but this I liked.

This I loved.

I loved experiencing the relationship between Allen and Sophie; I loved following the voyage deep into the Alaskan wilderness; I loved the bird watching; I loved the photography; I loved the letters between Josh the museum curator and the patron Walter Forrester; I loved that not everything was explained, and that some things were left as mysteries; I loved how Walter put it:

It takes a kind of arrogance to think everything in the world can be measured and weighed with our scientific instruments.

This is the kind of book to read when the snow is falling, the fire is blazing, and you’re sitting curled up with your favorite warm beverage. At least, that’s how I read it, while we were snowed in from work and school, and life slowed down for a while.

To the Bright Edge of the World is tender and violent, poetic and magical; it will break your heart and put it back together again–but slowly, the way hearts always heal.

In other words, it’s glorious–now go read it.

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
First edition New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Print length: 717 pages

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: