12 Jan / To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey [in Library Journal]
Walter Forrester, a self-described “stubborn old man” without living relatives, contacts Alaska museum curator Joshua Sloan with an offer to donate numerous effects of his great-uncle Lt. Col. Allen Forrester and Forrester’s wife, Sophie.
In 1885, Allen Forrester embarked on a formidable mission to chart the Wolverine River, leaving newly pregnant Sophie in Vancouver Barracks, WA. The colonel’s notebooks reveal the expected life-threatening challenges – lack of food, potentially hostile Natives, invincible nature – but also his shock from experiencing inexplicable, otherworldly occurrences. Meanwhile, Sophie distances herself from the stifling army encampment society while waiting for baby and husband, turning to the still-new art of photography to engage her independent mind.
Interwoven with Walter and Josh’s developing epistolary exchange are the pioneering couple’s journals and letters; additional newspaper articles, army documents, and official artifact descriptions add further illumination. Loosely based on Col. Henry Allen’s 1885 expedition into Copper River, Eowyn Ivey’s superb narrative is aurally enhanced by an excellent triumvirate of narrators: John Glouchevitch and Kiff Vandenheuvel take turns as 19th-century explorers and 21st-century correspondents, and Christine Lakin crisply embodies the spirited, ahead-of-her-time Sophie Forrester.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult