This beautifully written historical fiction is based on journeys undertaken in the late nineteenth century through uncharted areas of Alaska. The story (set in 1885) consists primarily of journal/diary entries, old photographs, letters, and descriptions of old artifacts. The reader travels along with Colonel Allen Forrester as he leads an expedition up the Wolverine River and encounters the Midnooskies (Russian word for “People of the Copper River”) and the Wolverine River Indians (Ahtna and Eyak tribes). He leaves behind his pregnant wife, Sophie, who encounters trials and adventures of her own at the Vancouver Barracks (near Portland).
Although the story unfolds slowly, there is lots of suspense and atmosphere. Wonderful!
At page 100 you are intrigued. At page 200 you are fascinated. At page 300 you are completed captured. At page 400 you are . . . speechless. In your memory you will "read" this book for years.
History, geography, suspense, mystery, love, can you ask for more!?
Very well written, a page turner!
Adventure, relationships, character driven, history, great setting, well written: One of the better novels I've read in a while.
A profound and important novel that will likely change how you view history and nature. The author has woven a masterpiece that mashes fiction and fact and leads one to the inescapable conclusion that much of what we see is ultimately unknowable. The epilogue reveals what I suspected, that the book is loosely based on the exploration of AK by Henry Allen -- a feat that some consider to be greater than the Lewis and Clark expedition. But the book goes much farther, probing our very powers of observation and unearthing powerful questions about cultural preservation (Alaska Native lives were forever changed after miners and the military penetrated the Alaskan interior). Read this book and you will never look at Canada Geese the same way. Did I mention it is also an epic love story?
I was so THERE in this novel, partly because of my many hours backpacking in the northwest, so I could easily visualize the environment, weather, etc. Got to love the main characters, each with their individual weaknesses well constructed by author. The mysticism was a kick for me. I thought Ivey made it as believable as possible given the times. Lovely book.
This wonderful, heartfelt book covers, in one way, just the year of 1885, when Allen leads a small Army expedition to Alaska's Wolverine River (stand-in for the Copper River in an actual expedition that took place that year) while his pregnant wife Sophie is required to stay in Fort Vancouver. I loved the epistolary nature of the book, which includes not just letters, but journal entries, official reports, photographs, descriptions of artifacts, drawings, etc. The book has an overlay consisting of modern letters between Allen's great nephew, who has found in his attic the collections from 1885, and the curator of a small Alaskan museum he wants to send it to. This is both a historical novel and a love story, with a touch of magical realism to it as well. I loved it! I haven't read "The Snow Child," but now I will. Ivey is an incredible, poetic writer.
"She always keeps a part of herself a mystery." This quote about Alaska in one of the letters in the book sums it up. That is what allows good books about this state to be epic in proportion. The sky is the limit! The way Ivey combined journal entries, artifact descriptions, photographs, newsclippings, and more made this book a fascinating read. I highly recommend it!
From Allen Forrester's letter to his wife Sophie: "I can find no means to account for all that we have witnessed, except to say that I no longer certain of the boundaries between man & beast, of the living & the dead."
There was just enough wonder and variety to prevent this book from being too saccharine. It isn't the sort of historical writing that normally captivates me, but I give the author credit for introducing the correspondence between two unlikely contemporary characters, and the historical artifacts. While I began by listening to the audiobook, I quickly became curious about the route taken by the explorers. The maps, photographs, news clippings and other items saved from the 1880s added an interesting layer to the story.
An engaging historical novel based loosely on the 1885 expedition of Lt. Henry T. Allen to ascend the Copper River into Interior Alaska and westward, 1,500 miles into the wilderness. I gained renewed admiration for New World explorers, dependent on the kindness of the natives and cooperation of the elements and their own skill and strength. The story of Col. Allen Forrester and his wife Sophie gives you a feel for army life in 1885, the role of women, and the beginnings of avian photography. Magical themes from Alaskan folklore add to the richness.
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