One of our Books of the Year 2016.
Flora Mackie leads a remarkable life. Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland. When grown, it naturally suits her to join an Arctic expedition with a British scientific team. Jakob de Beyn’s obsession with ice and glaciers also leads him north with an American expedition. Though they meet only briefly, he and Flora live similar lives with many parallels and some extraordinary stories. Hardship and determination colour both to the point where it is the Arctic that feels like home and the civilised Victorian world that seems hostile, and it is those sections that I found the most thrilling. Stef Penney’s book is huge; in length, in distances crossed, in ideas, in drama. Her elegant prose is a joy to read. Stretching from 1883 to 1948, it is not a novel of one thing only; not a portrait of a time, not a love story, not a cultural exploration, not an adventure story but all these things together, making it, above all, an excellent read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
November 2016 Book of the Month.
A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher...
I hope you’re wrapped up warm. Within these pages are driving blizzards, weeping glaciers and a sea frozen into concrete – all conjured so realistically that you may find your breath misting in front of you as you read. Stef Penney’s power to create a world remote in time and place that feels as real as the book you are holding is unparalleled, and in Under a Pole Star she outdoes even her stunning achievements in The Tenderness of Wolves.
Although this book has a cold setting, it has a warm heart. I fell completely in love with clever, wry Flora Mackie and her determination to be an Arctic explorer. As she overcomes all obstacles to be seen as a real scientist and a true leader, I hope you will be as swept up in her adventures and her life-changing love affair as I was.
Under a Pole Star is a truly epic story that will stay with you long after you read it. Enjoy the journey.
Jane Wood, Publisher, Quercus
COSTA WINNING AUTHOR Stef Penney returns to the wild Arctic setting she brought so vividly to life in THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES, in an epic story of ambition, perseverance and love against the odds. Perfect for fans of TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD and THE ESSEX SERPENT. 'A supreme storyteller' Sunday Times
Flora Mackie first crossed the Arctic Circle at the age of twelve. In 1889, the whaler's daughter from Dundee - dubbed by the press 'The Snow Queen' - sets out to become a scientist and explorer. She struggles to be taken seriously but determination and chance lead her back to northern Greenland at the head of a British expedition, despite the many who believe that a young woman has no place in this harsh world of men. Geologist Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan. Yearning for wider horizons, he joins a rival expedition, led by the furiously driven Lester Armitage. When Jakob and Flora's paths cross, it is a fateful meeting. All three become obsessed with the north, a place where violent extremes exist side by side: perpetual night and endless day; frozen seas and coastal meadows; heroism and lies. Armitage's ruthless desire to be the true leader of polar discovery takes him and his men on a mission whose tragic outcome will reverberate for years to come. Set against the stark, timeless beauty of northern Greenland, and fin-de-siecle New York and London, Under a Pole Star is a compelling look at the dark side of the 'golden age' of exploration, a study of the corrosive power of ambition, and an epic, incendiary love story. It shows that sometimes you have to travel to the furthest edge of the world in order to find your true place in it.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
'A suspenseful epic, offering a leitmotif of constant unease... impressive' Guardian
'Unquestionably atmospheric, evocative and ... rewarding Independent on Sunday A tense and delicately written thriller' Observer
'A remarkable literary debut ... brilliantly assured, subtly written' Scotsman
'Penney's evocation of the frozen lands of northern Canada couldn't ring truer if she'd spent months wandering through the land with nothing but a pack of huskies and a native tracker for company' Guardian
'Within the first fifty pages I was completely in love. It is a testimony to the power of good writing that it can present you with a world that you think you know nothing about, but by the end [of the book] you feel you own it' -- Armando Iannucci
'This subtle and superb novel brings the freezing landscape of the Canadian woods to such vivid life that the landscape itself becomes a strong character within the story' Crimesquad
'An absorbing and stylish mystery' Glasgow Herald
'A first-rate gripper with a notably sensual as well as psychological understanding of its main characters' Globe and Mail
Publication date: 03/11/2016
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
|Publication date:||3rd November 2016|
|Genres:||Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. She is the author of The Tenderness of Wolves and The Invisible Ones. Author photo © Ian Phillips McLarenMore About Stef Penney