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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Emily Fridlund
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Review: To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel - Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn Ivey's second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, in an impressive feat. This epistolary novel shows considerable research and passion for the subjects. Personally, I'm not a big fan of correspondence-based novels. Often, I find it is poorly done—authors too often rely on giving information that they wouldn't share or need to share with the recipient, all for the sake of advancing the plot. I roll my eyes every time. I guess you could say it's a pet peeve.

Had I known To the Bright Edge of the World was an epistolary novel before I picked it up, I might have delayed my read. I liked Ivey's previous work, The Snow Child, immensely, but not enough to suffer through four hundred pages of fictitious documents. But Ivey does it flawlessly. She truly gets into the minds of her characters and writes as they would have. She trusts her readers to discover what was left unsaid and to piece it all together to make a plot. The different periods and perspectives all come together to create a rather engaging read.

That said, I'm still not a fan of the epistolary novel. To the Bright Edge of the World is such a fantastic example of how it can be done well, but I didn't fall in love. For me, stories with an overly present narrator force me to take a step back from the tale, and that's exactly what happened here. I enjoyed the characters and scenery (Oh, the setting of this one!) from a distance, but never felt fully committed.