Wednesday 2 November 2016

Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney

Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Flora Mackie was twelve when she first crossed the Arctic Circle on her father's whaling ship. Now she is returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own exploration expedition. Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan, but his yearning for new horizons leads him to the Arctic as part of a rival expedition. When he and Flora meet, all thoughts of science and exploration give way before a sudden, all-consuming love.

The affair survives the growing tensions between the two groups, but then, after one more glorious summer on the Greenland coast, Jakob joins his leader on an extended trip into the interior, with devastating results.

The stark beauty of the Arctic ocean, where pack ice can crush a ship like an eggshell, and the empty sweep of the tundra, alternately a snow-muffled wasteland and an unexpectedly gentle meadow, are vividly evoked. Against this backdrop Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest.


I was instantly intrigued by the cover and the blurb of the book when I first saw it on NetGalley and I was thrilled to get a chance to read it. However, I had some serious problem with the story. 2 times during the book was a very tempted to give up the book. First, at around 30% and then around 60%. But, I felt that I had gotten so far that I wanted to finish the book and I wanted to know the ending. 

Now, the book isn't all bad. There were moments in the story I liked. But, after the intriguing intro, did the book lose some flow and for 30% it was just an introduction to the two main characters, Flora and Jacob. And, it's a thick book 608 page long and 30% of that felt a bit too much for just reading about people growing up. It got a bit better when the Flora and Jacob finally met during two separate expeditions. However, I could never really get into their great romance and the book felt way too long.

I did like reading about the expeditions, the will to find new land and the life of the Inuits. I think I would have preferred reading the book if it had focused more on the exploration of Arctic than Flora and Jacob life and tribulations. I did find Flora's life interesting to read as a woman in a man's world. It was just that sometimes it got a bit dull and I didn't find Jacob's life as interesting. Sometimes the story felt like it just went on and one. A bit too wordy for my taste.

I want to thank Quercus Books for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 

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