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Readalong: To the Bright Edge... > Week 4 (March 25-31): pgs. 305-end

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message 1: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments Jenny asked if I'd post some questions for our wrap-up.
Tell us what you think

1. What do you think about the title in relation to the narrative?
2. Do you have any thoughts or observations regarding traditional gender roles within this novel?
3. How do you feel about how the Native Americans were portrayed?
4. What's with all the animal symbolism?
5. Sophie's Dad? Did you get anything from this bearish aspect?
6. Did you see any substantial change in anyone?
7. Now that you've had time to reflect, do you think the framed approach strengthened or weakened this book?
8. Was there a single scene that stood out more than any other? If so, please share.
9. Did the ending satisfy you as a reader?
10. Briefly explain why you did or did not like this book. Please use examples from the work rather than just telling us you loved/hated this book. Tell us why, and then point to an example from the text to support your position.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 147 comments Casey, thanks for such great questions!! I'll tackle a few.....

The title clicked for me at the very end with Sophie's description of the photo she took that finally captured what she was striving for....There, along the bird's still, outstretched wing: an unexpected sliver of white light. It is only an effect of a beam of sun glancing off a branch behind the subject and can be explained rationally & scientifically. Yet this cannot account for the remarkable sensation it evolves in me, a trembling, thrilling exhilaration... It echoes the idea that rationality can only take you so far in the natural world.

The Walter/Josh frame worked really well for me. I grew to love them as much as the 19th century characters. Josh, as a mixed native/european character, gave an important political perspective to the story. And I loved that he gave us the story of Moses Picea - so wonderful to know what happened to that mystical, magical baby!

I think the author did a great job of letting us see the Native Americans through Col Forrester's eyes - a man limited by his culture and experiences, but still more thoughtful than most. I would love to read this story from Nat'aaggi's perspective though!

I loved everything about the ending.....the way the Forrester's married life was built around Sophie's work as a photographer, Walt and Josh's deepening relationship, Even the heartbreak of Tillman's senseless death.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 992 comments Mod
Sophie's Dad... for how little was known of mental illness back then I suppose it is easier to imagine he was a bear.


message 4: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Sophie's Dad... for how little was known of mental illness back then I suppose it is easier to imagine he was a bear."

Very interesting. Would you say the bear was pure metaphor?


message 5: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments Nadine wrote: "Casey, thanks for such great questions!! I'll tackle a few.....

The title clicked for me at the very end with Sophie's description of the photo she took that finally captured what she was strivin..."


I'm glad you liked the frame. I really struggled with it, and found it to be distracting, but I had very strong opinions about the narrative as a whole, too. I don't think I was this book's target reader.

I also appreciated how Sophie's photography kind of ended up stealing the show at the end, as if it was her lens that took them places and not her husband's.


message 6: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮  | 252 comments I agree Casey. I feel like Sophie is really the focus. And, I feel like her narrative really frames the story more so than her husband. Her adventure is just as exciting as she doesn't really fit the mold for women in her time period.

I think the animal symbolism plays into many ideas surrounding the Native American culture. This is important because this is a story about the beginning of the end of that important culture in this area of the U.S. And thinking back to her first book, The Snow Child, it seems Ivey likes to play with this idea of what is real and what is fantastical. I like that it leaves the reader questioning what is happening.


message 7: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments Elizabeth☮ wrote: "...Ivey likes to play with this idea of what is real and what is fantastical. I like that it leaves the reader questioning what is happening.."

This was my first Ivey read. I agree, she does seem to enjoy pleating the fabric of magic realism, and there were times I found it successfully done. The early encounters with the old man in the tree and his behavior worked well, but the longer it went on, the more frustrated I felt, as I lost trust with the author to guide me through her world. I may be alone in this, but I found myself pulling away from her (Ivey's) wishes to have me question reality's presentation.


message 8: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 176 comments Casey wrote: "The early encounters with the old man in the tree and his behavior worked well, but the longer it went on, the more frustrated I felt, as I lost trust with the author to guide me through her world. I may be alone in this, but I found myself pulling away from her (Ivey's) wishes to have me question reality's presentation."

I agree with this. She lost me a bit with the tree baby, it dipped to far in to fantasy for my tastes at that point. Until then it felt like historical fiction with some weirdness (at a level which I can handle) thrown in.

Other comments:
I really enjoyed the framed narrative.

My favorite scene was the exchange between Forrester and Tyone Ceeth Hwya regarding the forthcoming trip through the mountains. I also enjoyed Sophie's adventures in photography.

I loved the ending. Yay, Sophie!

Interesting note: this is the second book I've read this spring where a character opens a bottle of Glenlivet. I'm a fan.


message 9: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments The scene that sticks most out to me is when Allan is in the house of the missionaries, or I think they were missionaries, and the woman is nursing her child at her breast and Allen's gaze falls to her milky nipple and... I felt this was powerful, both in written tension and in inferred metaphor.

Oh, I don't know. Give me some Springbank or Aberlour or Longrow. Glenlivet just seems so... so generic. And if we must have a –Glen- why not a Glenfarclas or a Glen Grant. Ha.


message 10: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeff_koeppen) | 176 comments Casey wrote: "Oh, I don't know. Give me some Springbank or Aberlour or Longrow. Glenlivet just seems so... so generic. And if we must have a –Glen- why not a Glenfarclas or a Glen Grant. Ha.."

Ooooooo......thanks for the suggestions. I'm always up for trying new spirits. Not sure if I'll be able to track them down in fly-over land, though!


message 11: by Casey (new)

Casey | 96 comments I'm one of those people who know more than they ought about single malt /sigh
There are lots of good ones to try. Taste is the operative word. We mustn't drink the nectar.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol | 46 comments Hi, Sorry I was unable to read this along with the rest of you. I needed to read some other books for book clubs. Here is what I wrote for the review:

I enjoyed this book. Would probably give it a 4.5. It was well crafted with multiple storylines occurring. There is some magical realism which I attribute to incorporating the native alaskan folklore. I liked that part of it even though it threw me a bit. I will definitely read The Snow Child and any future works by Eowyn Ivey. The writing was beautiful. Thanks to Jenny of Reading Envy for recommending it as a Read Along.


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol | 46 comments oh and I really appreciate all your comments. I'm a scientist/nurse so the folklore part threw me too....especially the birth of the baby. But then when I realized that it was a bit of an homage to the native alaskan folklore, I appreciated it. I forget who said it earlier, but I agree that it was a reflection of the encroachment of the white man ways onto theirs. It makes me want to read more of native american folklore. I loved African tales when I was a child. I liked the framing of it with the other relationships, especially Walt and Josh. The one thing that stuck with me was when the alaskan asked if there was an army coming after him. Forrester said "no". Well....sad to say, the alaskan had a right to fear. In any case, I enjoyed the book. I always enjoy it when someone does something creative like this. It is so out of my wheelhouse. Now onto the summer read....


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