Under A Pole Star
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.

Under A Pole Star Details

TitleUnder A Pole Star
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 3rd, 2016
ISBN-139781786481160
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Literature, 19th Century, Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction

Under A Pole Star Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Stef Penney returns to the Arctic in this intense and epic novel that looks at the darker side of the golden age of explorers in the nineteenth century. It begins with a group visiting the Arctic, amongst which is the elderly Snow Queen, Flora Cochrane, and Randall Crane who is intent on getting close to Flora and finding out about her expeditions and life. The story then goes back to Flora, who from 12 to 18 years of age went whaling in the Arctic with her father. From this deeply unconventiona Stef Penney returns to the Arctic in this intense and epic novel that looks at the darker side of the golden age of explorers in the nineteenth century. It begins with a group visiting the Arctic, amongst which is the elderly Snow Queen, Flora Cochrane, and Randall Crane who is intent on getting close to Flora and finding out about her expeditions and life. The story then goes back to Flora, who from 12 to 18 years of age went whaling in the Arctic with her father. From this deeply unconventional background, at 18 she is expected to return to the limiting and conventional life expected of a woman. Needless to say, Flora struggles to adapt and wants nothing more than to return to the Arctic. She trains as a meteorologist and marries a man who facilitates her return as the co-leader of a scientific expedition. New Yorker, Jakob de Beyn, is a geologist with an American expedition to reach the North Pole under the leadership of Lester Armitage. The two competing parties meet and despite all that stands between them, Flora and Jakob fall for each other. A life consuming love affair ensues fuelled by letters, riven with insecurities and obstacles. This is a story about their love and passion for each other and for the Arctic. The Arctic is a harsh, savage and unforgiving place for all who encounter it, with so many suffering dreadful privations. Death constantly looms over all who live and visit there as depicted by the many who lose their lives in the novel. The cold and dark are constant challenges. The Eskimos talk of a winter madness with symptoms of violent mania. The relationship outsiders have with the Eskimos are careless, often perfidious, shameful and exploitative. Eskimo mummies and Eskimos are gawped at and viewed with contempt and horror by mainstream society. The absolute inequality means that Eskimos cannot afford to offend and put up with despicable behaviour. The explorers, like Armitage, are exemplified as unpleasant, selfish, conceited, elusive and ruthless with glass egos. It is a man's world and Flora does not go unscathed in this milieu. Her achievements are seen by men to diminish their own. The reputation of a woman is exceedingly fragile and easily wrecked through rumour and gossip. Amidst this background, Flora is a extraordinary woman. Randall Crane turns out to have secrets that make Flora open up about her lifestory. Murder, blackmail, tragedy, lies and secrets emerge. What is not in doubt is the love Flora and Jakob have for each other amidst the spellbinding Arctic which is home to both of them. Flora is a flawed and driven character who is often careless of others. For example, she does not understand what her father has to give up when he gives her a considerable sum of money so that she can realise her ambitions. Although perhaps this can be forgiven given what it takes in that era to be a explorer. Fundraising and money compromise the nature of exploration, often making it a grubby affair. This is a absorbing and atmospheric love story that grabs the attention. A brilliant novel that focuses on the frontier of Arctic knowledge and driven by the characters created. Highly recommended read. Thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    January 1, 1970
    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 intriguin 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 about 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! To be reviewed!
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  • Nigel
    January 1, 1970
    In short - A great tale of the Arctic, exploration and particularly Flora, a character I really liked, a British explorer at the end of the 19th century. In fullThe start of this book introduces us to The Snow Queen, a now aging Arctic explorer, going to Greenland on another Arctic expedition in 1948. There is a reporter at the 1948 event who is interested to know Flora's take on some controversies about American expeditions that took place towards the end of the 19th century. The book then move In short - A great tale of the Arctic, exploration and particularly Flora, a character I really liked, a British explorer at the end of the 19th century. In fullThe start of this book introduces us to The Snow Queen, a now aging Arctic explorer, going to Greenland on another Arctic expedition in 1948. There is a reporter at the 1948 event who is interested to know Flora's take on some controversies about American expeditions that took place towards the end of the 19th century. The book then moves back in time to Flora Mackie in 1883 as a 13 year old on her first Arctic voyage on her father's boat. This is before she becomes The Snow Queen in the press of the 19th century. With short periods spent at the 1948 event the book focuses in the main on the life of Flora Mackie and her explorations in the Arctic in the late part of the 19th century. The book also covers the stories of American expeditions at the same sort of time and particularly those involving Jakob de Beyn. It becomes increasingly obvious that there may have been something unusual about the American expeditions.I really loved the account of Flora as a teenager and the development of her life and interests. She is a strong and very well written character who will stay with me for some time. The accounts of the expeditions are detailed and extensive. Jakob is an important part of this narrative (as to some degree is Armitage, an American who led an expedition with Jakob and undertook another without him). I found Jakob a less vivid character than Flora though still interesting. In a sense this feels almost a biography of Flora - covering intimate and personal aspects of her life as well as the Arctic experiences. I really did find Flora's life from 13 to her meeting with the reporter in 1948 enjoyable and I became happily immersed in it. The writing is of a very high standard. If I have any issues with this book it would be about the pace. The descriptive writing is great however, at times, it seemed to slow the book down for me. The inside story of those early expeditions is fascinating as the tale is gradually told. I would imagine this book would be a "must" for many Steff Penney fans.Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair reviewhttp://viewson.org.uk/historical-fict...
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  • Maggie
    January 1, 1970
    What at amazing book! Stef Penney captures the world of the far North brilliantly and lyrically. (Reading it during a cold snap I'm sure added to my enjoyment!) The story follows Flora's life. She first went North with her father who was a Dundee whaling captain and fell totally under its spell. She spent the rest of her days trying to get back there and to learn more about the place and its people..Jakob deBeyn is a geologist. He is part of an American expedition to attempt to reach the North P What at amazing book! Stef Penney captures the world of the far North brilliantly and lyrically. (Reading it during a cold snap I'm sure added to my enjoyment!) The story follows Flora's life. She first went North with her father who was a Dundee whaling captain and fell totally under its spell. She spent the rest of her days trying to get back there and to learn more about the place and its people..Jakob deBeyn is a geologist. He is part of an American expedition to attempt to reach the North Pole. He and Flora meet and are instantly attracted.Their love story, the accounts of the expeditions and how the desire for fame can sometimes blank out truth form a captivating narrative. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this stunning book. It will take a while before I forget this one.
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    No rating from me. Stef Penney has exceptional writing ability and it isn't the book as much as it is myself and when this book and I met. It's a tome and at the half way point, I will leave it. Flora is just not a character of great interest to me or even of moderate imaginative inquiry. Explorers and intrepid personality quotient is not enough either way. Does she ever want a woman friend? Or feel any desire to intersect/ cross with over 1/2 the human race in some female chatter? And where is No rating from me. Stef Penney has exceptional writing ability and it isn't the book as much as it is myself and when this book and I met. It's a tome and at the half way point, I will leave it. Flora is just not a character of great interest to me or even of moderate imaginative inquiry. Explorers and intrepid personality quotient is not enough either way. Does she ever want a woman friend? Or feel any desire to intersect/ cross with over 1/2 the human race in some female chatter? And where is any of the inquisitiveness to "other"? She seems attracted to the frozen outside world and having small concerns for the many layered or emotionally based warmth capacity for an individual woman? And the males aren't exactly depth charges either.Too much cold and ice and it's September already. So I'll be getting more of those very specifics in my own sight before you know it. I would have probably trudged until the end if I hadn't had 4 other books that are superior right now and at least 5 more in the pile beyond those 4 that look much better to my current interests. Far more intriguing.Stef Penney, I may come back to this one some day. But I probably won't. Life is too short and I have way too much more on the joy and intellect scale for some crafty tales pounding their hooves WAY ahead of this one. Some components are worth the time and reading efforts here absolutely. But not for me.Great writing skills and just not a particular glacier I choose to climb to grasp the shards. Both the mental and physically based components are too sharp and crudely cored for me to desire the hike.
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  • Gill
    January 1, 1970
    Review added October 20th 2016'Under a Pole Star' by Stef Penney4 stars/ 8 out of 10I read and enjoyed Stef Penney's first novel 'The Tenderness of Wolves', so was interested in reading her latest work 'Under a Pole Star' (to be published in October 2016).This novel tells the story of Flora Mackie, whose first journey to the Arctic as a young girl started a lifelong relationship with the area and its people. It is a fascinating historical novel, set in the late 19th century, a time of exploratio Review added October 20th 2016'Under a Pole Star' by Stef Penney4 stars/ 8 out of 10I read and enjoyed Stef Penney's first novel 'The Tenderness of Wolves', so was interested in reading her latest work 'Under a Pole Star' (to be published in October 2016).This novel tells the story of Flora Mackie, whose first journey to the Arctic as a young girl started a lifelong relationship with the area and its people. It is a fascinating historical novel, set in the late 19th century, a time of exploration and discovery.This is a long novel, more than 600 pages, covering many areas, and I can see that different aspects of the book will appeal to different people. For me, the sections relating to Louise and others' personal relationships were the least interesting part of the book. I was mainly interested in the parts relating to exploration. I thought the part covering Louise's childhood and whaling was excellent, as were the parts relating to the various trips to the Arctic (and the organisation necessary prior and post these trips). Penney's research has been meticulous, and her writing ability made these sections completely believable. I was especially interested in all the sections relating to 'Eskimo' life. The descriptions of life and nature in the Arctic were excellent.Penney uses a framing technique that links the main narrative to a return trip to the Arctic in 1948. For much of the book, I wondered whether this added to the novel. However, by the end of the book, I could see the ways in which it had enhanced the story.Stef Penney can be well pleased with this novel, and I look forward to reading future work by her.Thank you to Quercus Books and to NetGalley for an ARC.
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  • Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
    January 1, 1970
    Overlong, but glad I made the journey.Steff Penney’s epic Arctic romance centres around Flora who spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat resulting in a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. An older Flora returns to the Arctic as an adult meeting the American explorer and romantic interest in the novel, Jakob.I wanted to like this, but the book is quite variable. Some passages are very good, but it loses its way too often and I wa Overlong, but glad I made the journey.Steff Penney’s epic Arctic romance centres around Flora who spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat resulting in a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. An older Flora returns to the Arctic as an adult meeting the American explorer and romantic interest in the novel, Jakob.I wanted to like this, but the book is quite variable. Some passages are very good, but it loses its way too often and I was tempted to put it down. The author's descriptions of the Arctic are very good, with particularly strong imagery and prose, however, the book isn’t gripping and I did find some of the secondary characters uninteresting and one dimensional. Indeed, I found Flora a rather enigmatic character and difficult to empathise with. A major part of the book covers Flora and Jakob's childhood and university experiences which could have been seriously edited. The later sections are the most compelling with the development of the relationship between Flora and Jakob which do contain some graphic sex scenes.In summary I was glad I’d finished it, and there’s some beautiful descriptions of the Arctic, but the length and characterisations don’t work it its favour. I received this book free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.
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  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    Under a Pole Star is a much bigger book than I have read for some time at over 600 pages, but I loved every page of it. Stef Penney returns to the frozen settings she described so convincingly in The Tenderness of Wolves. I was quite surprised to learn that, like me, she is from Edinburgh. I was sure that she must have been from the cold places she writes about so beautifully. However, although she has been to the Scandanavian Arctic she hasn't been to the North Pole, the ultimate aim of the cha Under a Pole Star is a much bigger book than I have read for some time at over 600 pages, but I loved every page of it. Stef Penney returns to the frozen settings she described so convincingly in The Tenderness of Wolves. I was quite surprised to learn that, like me, she is from Edinburgh. I was sure that she must have been from the cold places she writes about so beautifully. However, although she has been to the Scandanavian Arctic she hasn't been to the North Pole, the ultimate aim of the characters in this book. Like me, and not surprisingly, she loves snow! I really enjoy books set in very cold climates. It always fascinates me how people can survive in such harsh conditions and it must have been even more difficult for the early Arctic explorers without modern clothing and technology.This is such an epic book that it is difficult to summarise in just a few sentences but I will try. Dundee born Flora Mackie has had an unusual childhood, travelling with her whaling-ship captain father to the Arctic on several occasions during the second half of the 19th century. She is called The Snow Queen by the press. When she becomes an older teenager, her father refuses to take her anymore feeling it unsuitable for a young lady. She is furious about this and determines, despite being a woman, that she will return to the North to lead her own expeditions. Jakob de Beyn is a geologist from New York travelling with Arctic explorer Lester Armitage. When they meet, an emotional bond is formed which will change their lives forever. Stef Penney has written an epic novel detailing the lives of Flora and Jakob before they met, their passionate relationship and their shared obsession with the Arctic. Flora is a wonderful character: strong, clever, determined. It must have been hard for intelligent women in the 19th century who had ambition but were held back simply because they were women. Flora is practical and realises that she will only be able to travel back to the North as a married woman, but even then she faces hostility and prejudice. Jakob is the one who sees her as she is and recognises and respects her abilities. The love between the two develops achingly slowly before they finally give in to their emotions. The passion between them leaps off the page with such intensity. Scattered throughout the book, there are sections with Flora as a much older lady returning to the Arctic, having been married three times, discussing her life with a journalist and reminiscing about the great loves of her life - Jakob and the frozen north. Through these, we begin to find out what happened between Jakob, Flora and Lester Armitage.Despite never having been to the North Pole, the author has clearly researched thoroughly so I felt that I had a good idea of how difficult life was, and probably still is, in the very cold regions of the world. She describes the whaling industry, the expeditions and the preparation required to optimise survival, the health problems faced by the explorers and their obsession to push further and further north, aiming for the ultimate goal - the North Pole. The relationship between the explorers and indigent Inuit people was really interesting to read about. The Inuit, of course, were invaluable to the explorers yet weren't always treated with the respect they deserved. As you might expect though, Jakob and Flora have a very respectful attitude towards them and value their contributions, something which doesn't always endear them to their fellow scientists and explorers.But what Stef Penney does best is write about the vast, bleak yet beautiful Arctic landscape. This is a book to read by a fire, imagining the beauty of snow and ice while immersing yourself in this epic story of adventure and love.My thanks to the publishers Quercus for allowing me to read a copy via Netgalley.
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  • Cphe
    January 1, 1970
    A novel set in the Arctic Circle in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Wonderful descriptions of snow and ice, an unforgiving, brutal environment.This story tells of the fated romance between Flora Mackie and Jacob de Beyn. Flora is unusual for the time depicted, no narrow insular world for her. Flora becomes a Meterologist and leads her own expedition into the Arctic Circle. Jacob de Beyn is a Geologist with a fascination with the glaciers and ice formation in the Arctic Circle. Both ar A novel set in the Arctic Circle in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Wonderful descriptions of snow and ice, an unforgiving, brutal environment.This story tells of the fated romance between Flora Mackie and Jacob de Beyn. Flora is unusual for the time depicted, no narrow insular world for her. Flora becomes a Meterologist and leads her own expedition into the Arctic Circle. Jacob de Beyn is a Geologist with a fascination with the glaciers and ice formation in the Arctic Circle. Both are driven characters in their own field.I suppose some may be disappointed by the "romantic" component but I felt it complimented the story and the the characters overall.However for this reader it was the visceral descriptions of the landscape, the Eskimo way of life and the times that kept me reading.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I have an image of Stef Penney sitting down to write this book. ‘Well everybody loved the cold, haunted darkness featured in ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’, so my next novel will be set in the Artic’. After a bit of Google procrastination Stef hits upon that the biggest book sales in recent years have been murder/mysteries and, of course, E L James with titillating erotica. ‘OK then, I shall give the readers what they want – my next bestselling novel will be Arctic Mystery Porn.’The tale starts with I have an image of Stef Penney sitting down to write this book. ‘Well everybody loved the cold, haunted darkness featured in ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’, so my next novel will be set in the Artic’. After a bit of Google procrastination Stef hits upon that the biggest book sales in recent years have been murder/mysteries and, of course, E L James with titillating erotica. ‘OK then, I shall give the readers what they want – my next bestselling novel will be Arctic Mystery Porn.’The tale starts with the Snow Queen, or Flora as she is known throughout the rest of the book, being taken to the North Pole in 1948. There is the reference to the mystery: what happened to her fellow explorers all those years ago? We then go back in time to 1883 (split timeframe books also seem to be the thing this year) and to a young Flora with her father in Greenland. Also in New York, an introduction to Jakob, a boy with a fascination for the Arctic and lots of relatives. At one point I was drunk on characters; it was like a party with so many new people that I couldn’t work out who was worth really getting to know and who I would never see again. Time goes on and finally Flora and Jakob meet. At this point we enter the ’50 Shades of Ice’ section of the book. They are a young, fit couple who like sex, so they have sex regularly and being a modern open minded audience we read all about it. One sentence did get my ‘Laugh out Loud Award 2016’ – ‘by taking it inside her mouth, where he fits as snugly as an acorn in a cup’. Let us hope that Jakob did not mind being compared to an acorn.Having fully mined the thesaurus for alternatives to ‘bulbous’ Stef realises that the mystery element of the tale had been neglected. This was a relief as I felt the need for a story at this stage, the book had got lost in an Arctic winter and we all needed rescuing. This book would benefit from some judicious editing, as it stands I think many readers will flag after the second or third expedition. But who knows, maybe Arctic Mystery Porn will be a hit for Stef Penney.
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  • Michael Cayley
    January 1, 1970
    For me this novel was a mix of the good and not-so-good. It is centred on two people, Flora and Jakob, involved in highly dangerous exploration in the Arctic in 1890s. The descriptions of the Arctic and of what exploration was like are superb, as is the portrayal of the fierce rivalries between exploration teams.Stef Penney combines this with the description of a doomed love relationship. This was for me at times depicted in excessively melodramatic language. And there are also passages of expli For me this novel was a mix of the good and not-so-good. It is centred on two people, Flora and Jakob, involved in highly dangerous exploration in the Arctic in 1890s. The descriptions of the Arctic and of what exploration was like are superb, as is the portrayal of the fierce rivalries between exploration teams.Stef Penney combines this with the description of a doomed love relationship. This was for me at times depicted in excessively melodramatic language. And there are also passages of explicit sex. Some of these add very little to the story or characterisation, and seem included just for the sake of eroticism. Almost all would have been better for being substantially shortened. It is very difficult to write well about sex, and I do not think Stef Penney has succeeded in doing so. At times I am afraid I found the writing in these sections laughably embarrassing - and thought there were some good candidates for the Bad Sex in Fiction award.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    I love books like this – where the landscape is so remote and cold and unfriendly that you even feel nervous about going there in fiction form. But there’s something about explorers and what they achieved despite the lack of technology we have now and the work they had to do to get to the most inhospitable places on earth that really fascinates me. The early scenes of a woman known as the Snow Queen heading back with a journalist who’s hoping to find out about this amazing woman and what happene I love books like this – where the landscape is so remote and cold and unfriendly that you even feel nervous about going there in fiction form. But there’s something about explorers and what they achieved despite the lack of technology we have now and the work they had to do to get to the most inhospitable places on earth that really fascinates me. The early scenes of a woman known as the Snow Queen heading back with a journalist who’s hoping to find out about this amazing woman and what happened on that journey were just full of foreboding and it was the start of a great read for me.Full review to follow
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  • Jus
    January 1, 1970
    A masterpiece. Beautifully written. Wasn't quite what I expected but very good all the same. A modern classic maybe?
  • Isi
    January 1, 1970
    What do you do when your hometown is beaten by a dreadful heatwave? You read one of Stef Penney's stories to find yourself transported to the most northern, snowy and chilly places of the earth.Under a Pole Star is a fictional recreation of the first expeditions who went to the North Pole in the late 1800s, journeys that were equally thrilling and dangerous. The main character is Flora Mackie, a motherless girl who, from the age of twelve, is taken by his father to Ellesmere Island on his whaler What do you do when your hometown is beaten by a dreadful heatwave? You read one of Stef Penney's stories to find yourself transported to the most northern, snowy and chilly places of the earth.Under a Pole Star is a fictional recreation of the first expeditions who went to the North Pole in the late 1800s, journeys that were equally thrilling and dangerous. The main character is Flora Mackie, a motherless girl who, from the age of twelve, is taken by his father to Ellesmere Island on his whaler, spending most of her younger years living with the Eskimos. However, as she grows up into a young woman, his father no longer thinks a ship full of men is suitable for her, so she is left in Britain to get a formal education. But, for Flora, the North is her home and, despite women don't travel to such places, she sets up an unprecedented expedition, leaded by herself.I loved to see a female character leading groups of men into the Arctic. Everyone was really surprised to see a woman there - except for the Eskimos, who knew Flora since she was a child and could speak with her in their own language - so she had to look and act severe to be respected. The story also includes a romance between Flora and Jakob de Beyn, an American geologist who meets in Greenland, and goes back and forth between the two, one in America and the other in Britain. They share a deep fascination for those remote lands and the lack of attachment to the rest of the world, and this understanding leads to a unique love story.I can't help but recommend this book that, for me, has everything: historical notes about the golden age of explorers in the Arctic, a woman assuming what at the time was a man's role, beautiful but indomitable lands, and a delightful romance.Full review on my blog: https://fromisi.wordpress.com/2017/07...
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  • Brenda Ayala
    January 1, 1970
    Under a Pole Star is a surprisingly beautiful tale set in a bleak environment. This comes at a particularly good time for me because I just took a trip to Iceland earlier this year, and the landscape is still permanently--and vividly--stuck in my mind. It's harsh and unforgiving, and only the truly sturdy can survive there. It's weirdly beautiful; not in the way you would traditionally expect, but when you see bubbling hot springs coupled with an icy wind slicing through your clothes, or walking Under a Pole Star is a surprisingly beautiful tale set in a bleak environment. This comes at a particularly good time for me because I just took a trip to Iceland earlier this year, and the landscape is still permanently--and vividly--stuck in my mind. It's harsh and unforgiving, and only the truly sturdy can survive there. It's weirdly beautiful; not in the way you would traditionally expect, but when you see bubbling hot springs coupled with an icy wind slicing through your clothes, or walking the perimeter of a crater so large it created a lake, which is in turn so frozen you can walk and jump and lie down on it without it breaking--there's a certain kind of majesty to it. Like a king that's regal and formal but also can chop your head off with a sword in the blink of an eye.So for me, Under a Pole Star was a trip back to that vacation. Flora is our main character, and we follow her and others as they each respectively fall in love with the extreme climate and the people who live there. It follows her as she fights to be taken seriously as a woman, as she gets married, as she falls in love only years after being married. It's a human-interest story first and foremost.I loved the friendships between Flora and the eskimos as well, and later her companions. Jakob's thread is a fascinating one too, complete with his friendship to Frank and his sexual adventures. There's a lot of heart in this book, and it makes me sort of wistful and sad.
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  • Elsa Reian
    January 1, 1970
    I loved her first two books so was very excited when I found out she had written a third. The beginning was promising but then ,about a third of the way, it kind of lost momentum. It picked up a bit later on but then came that lull again. I was a bit disappointed but finished the book non the less. Cannot deny that the subject matter was very interesting.
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  • Dan Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    I feel very conflicted with this book. Everyone seems to love Stef Penney's previous works, but this is the first novel I've read of hers. At times the book hooked and I just had to keep on reading. The exploration and the Inuit elements are wonderfully created and fell for everything. And then there were times where this 600+ page read lagged. And it really lagged.
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  • Olga Miret
    January 1, 1970
    A love story, a fabulous female character and a fresh view of Artic explorations Thanks to NetGalley and to Quercus Books for sending me an ARC copy of the book that I voluntarily choose to review. Artic and Polar exploration is one of those subjects that sound fascinating but I didn’t know much about. This novel, although not claiming to be based on real historical figures (when I read a bit around it, I found several explorers whose lives seemed to have more than a few details in common with s A love story, a fabulous female character and a fresh view of Artic explorations Thanks to NetGalley and to Quercus Books for sending me an ARC copy of the book that I voluntarily choose to review. Artic and Polar exploration is one of those subjects that sound fascinating but I didn’t know much about. This novel, although not claiming to be based on real historical figures (when I read a bit around it, I found several explorers whose lives seemed to have more than a few details in common with some of the characters, and there’s no doubt that the author has researched well the subject) manages to bring to life the polar explorations of the late XIX and early XX century, but not as the heroic endeavours we’re used to. The characters are driven, determined and daring, but that is not the whole story. Of course, when one gets to think about it, it is clear that somebody had to pay for the expeditions, and there were conditions, sponsorship, etc. Some of the things done (exaggerations, false claims, exploitation of the natives) are non-dissimilar to those seen in many other endeavours of the time when there was much curiosity for other people’s and places, and some bizarre and questionable things were done in the name of science and education. The story is framed by a trip to the North Pole, this time flying, of a collection of various characters. One of them, a journalist, has personal reasons to be there and is intrigued by one of the other characters, Flora Mackie, named the Snow Queen due to her many expeditions to Greenland and the Artic. The novel is divided into a number of parts, mostly told (in the third person) from the point of view of two characters, Jakob and Flora, both who experienced losses as children and who are fascinated by the North, ice, and the cold. Flora is an extraordinary character, a Scottish girl who loses her mother, and whose father, a captain of a whaler, decides to take her with him when she is a young girl. She loves it and is determined to go back when she grows up (as once she becomes a woman her father decides it is not appropriate for her to carry on joining his whaling expeditions). She is a driven character trying to follow her heart at a time when the number of roles socially acceptable and available for women was very limited. She feels more at home in Greenland with the Eskimos (as they were called at the time) than she does in Dundee or London. Jakob, a Geologist, loves studying the ice, glaciers and is fascinated by the North and nature. Jakob and Flora seemed destined for each other, but both personal and professional difficulties interfere (the path of true love and all that…). Later, as the story is revealed slowly and from different points of view, we come to wonder if some dark events were also involved. The descriptions of the era and particularly of the Artic and its way of life at the time are beautiful and vividly rendered. Flora is a truly complex and fascinating character, who faces difficulties familiar to many women and other unique to her singular circumstances. She feels guilty for not keeping up with moral standards, whilst trying hard to be her own person and free, no matter her gender. She might appear cold at first sight, but she has to try and be a leader to the men working with her, and not showing any weakness. A difficult task even now. Jakob is a likeable man, who doubts himself and his origins, decent and moral, less ambitious than most of the other characters, and his strongest passions are Flora and his love of ice and glaciers. There are descriptions of sex, that on reading the reviews I’ve noticed some reviewers didn’t find relevant to the book. These scenes are well-written and go some way to humanise and demonstrate how special this relationship was for both characters, especially compared to Flora’s experiences (we know less about Jakob’s), but readers need to be advised that although they are not a major part of the book (it is a long book) they are significant and explicit, especially in certain episodes of the novel. This is a novel beautifully written, full of descriptions of places few of us might get to visit and a time far away in history but close enough to seem familiar. The pace is leisurely, and although there are plenty of adventures, emotions and we share in the gamut of human emotions (love, envy, hatred, jealousy, greed…), it is not the typical page-turner. A novel recommended for those who love historical fiction (especially one that offers a revisionist view of events), stylishly written, with great characters and who don’t mind a few explicit sexual scenes.
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  • Ronja
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this one very much. For some reason I love stories about explorers and the arctic, and this one is a fine specimen, and a fascinating love story to boot. Highly recommended.
  • Johnnyblue
    January 1, 1970
    I have thoroughly enjoyed both of Stef Penney's previous books and was really looking forward to reading this. Set mainly in the late 1800's in Britain, America and the Arctic Circle she weaves an entertaining tale of love and exploration that cleverly highlights the subordinate role of women in "civilised" society even when they were/are experts in their field. The two central characters Flora Mackie, a scot, and Jakob De Beyne, a New Yorker, are both very well drawn, sympathetic, believable an I have thoroughly enjoyed both of Stef Penney's previous books and was really looking forward to reading this. Set mainly in the late 1800's in Britain, America and the Arctic Circle she weaves an entertaining tale of love and exploration that cleverly highlights the subordinate role of women in "civilised" society even when they were/are experts in their field. The two central characters Flora Mackie, a scot, and Jakob De Beyne, a New Yorker, are both very well drawn, sympathetic, believable and attractive and the stories of their lives before they meet are detailed and interesting, particularly Flora's childhood on the whaling boat her father part owns and captains.The passages that describe the financing and organisation of the two competing American and British expeditions to the Arctic are also excellent and very interesting. Her writing up to the point when the two become lovers, roughly halfway through the book, is very good indeed and had me avidly turning the pages. Unfortunately this is where the book comes to something of a standstill, because for much of the next fifty pages the reader must trudge through page after page of minutely detailed sex scenes. Now, no doubt some people will enjoy this, particularly readers of erotic fiction, but after the first half dozen pages I began to find it increasingly tedious and longed for the book to return to its main theme. That it didn't meant that what had been a book a couldn't wait to pick up and was reluctant to put down soon became a chore.The book does pick up once Jakob goes to Switzerland, but whenever sex reared its head again I found myself skipping those passages. It's a shame, because the sheer volume of sex scenes takes up far too much time so that the twin stories of Flora and Jakob, and to a lesser extent Lester Armitage, an American explorer, and the two time frames of the late 1800's and 1948 don't get the attention and space they require. There is also something of a murder mystery involved which really feels unnecessary and one element too many as the story of polar exploration is gripping enough in itself. Overall, I really enjoyed the majority of this book and still think that Stef Penney is a very good writer but in my opinion it would have benefited from a stronger editor who was prepared to steer her back to what she does best, writing enthralling stories about realistic characters in interesting settings.
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  • Hannah Eve
    January 1, 1970
    *Contains spoilers*This book is about sex. It’s sometimes about Greenland, glaciers and death. But mostly, it’s about sex. And yet I was disappointed. The sheer amount of sex scenes in the novel serves to celebrate the sexual emancipation of a young and oppressed Victorian woman. Where Flora feels the disadvantage of her gender, she improves herself sexually, graduating from utter ignorance to finally lying comfortably in Jakob’s naked lap, sniffing his penis. The point of it seems to be that Fl *Contains spoilers*This book is about sex. It’s sometimes about Greenland, glaciers and death. But mostly, it’s about sex. And yet I was disappointed. The sheer amount of sex scenes in the novel serves to celebrate the sexual emancipation of a young and oppressed Victorian woman. Where Flora feels the disadvantage of her gender, she improves herself sexually, graduating from utter ignorance to finally lying comfortably in Jakob’s naked lap, sniffing his penis. The point of it seems to be that Flora discovers her capacity to love through these moments, and in so doing becomes remarkably courageous. What bothered me was the language used throughout the novel. Sex is difficult to write, and I’m always uncomfortable with certain cliché metaphors like ‘her juices’ and ‘nectar’ (I mean, we’re not picturing honey…). It’s intimate in the extreme, so much so that I’m tempted to congratulate Stef Penney for being so unapologetically bold. But many of the more elaborate metaphors such as ‘she was his homecoming, his harbour’ etc. felt lengthy and contrived. Moreover, there was an odd contrast between the overdone figurative language and unexpectedly explicit words like ‘cunt’ - particularly when narrated from Flora’s perspective, it felt inappropriate. In more than a few others areas, the writing seemed sloppy, as if Penney was getting fed up with it herself. But at 596 pages I don’t blame her. Are authors getting paid by the word again because it feels like the art of concision is fading? Under a Pole Star’s actual plot is brilliant and, in fact, far more satisfying than her previous novel. It could just have been 200 pages shorter. Having said that, Penny’s talent for recreating a time and place is compelling, and, as with The Tenderness of Wolves, I did find myself immersed in the latter half of the book.
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  • Yana
    January 1, 1970
    You can find a copy of this review at: https://thequidnuncblog.wordpress.com...On choosing to read this novel you should prepare yourself for a very long read.The book is over 600 pages, definitely not an easy read, and definitely full of many different themes that would appeal to some, but put others away. I paid a lot of attention when reading it, that is why it took me so long to review it. Still, I am not entirely sure whether my annotation would be adequate enough to show the true grandness You can find a copy of this review at: https://thequidnuncblog.wordpress.com...On choosing to read this novel you should prepare yourself for a very long read.The book is over 600 pages, definitely not an easy read, and definitely full of many different themes that would appeal to some, but put others away. I paid a lot of attention when reading it, that is why it took me so long to review it. Still, I am not entirely sure whether my annotation would be adequate enough to show the true grandness of this novel.The writing is of a very high standard. If I have any issues with this book it would be about the pace. The descriptive writing is great however, at times, it seemed to slow the book down for me. The inside story of those early expeditions is fascinating as the tale is gradually told. I would imagine this book would be a "must" for many Steff Penney fans.Personally, I was a bit taken aback with the huge amount of information that the book bombards you with. But, I am almost entirely sure that was my fault, not the novel's. I was a bit overworked and definitely not focused enough to fully appreciate the story. The characters are all lovely, strong, determined, life-like, not without a fault, of course, but it is extremely easy to love them and follow their journey.This is a book to read by a fire, imagining the beauty of snow and ice while immersing yourself in this epic story of adventure and love. It was an enjoyable read, but I felt stretched out of my comfort zone.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Review copy courtesy of Quercus Books via NetGalley, many thanks.A patchy experience. I had very much enjoyed Stef Penney’s first book The Tenderness of Wolves and, in terms of her superb descriptions of the northern wilderness, this latest one fulfilled my expectations. She has also succeeded in capturing the driven, ruthless characters of the early explorers and the rivalry between expeditions, seeking and exploiting the most sensational new discoveries to secure themselves celebrity back home Review copy courtesy of Quercus Books via NetGalley, many thanks.A patchy experience. I had very much enjoyed Stef Penney’s first book The Tenderness of Wolves and, in terms of her superb descriptions of the northern wilderness, this latest one fulfilled my expectations. She has also succeeded in capturing the driven, ruthless characters of the early explorers and the rivalry between expeditions, seeking and exploiting the most sensational new discoveries to secure themselves celebrity back home and future sponsorship, at any cost to others. If this had been the whole story I would have been content. The book was spoiled for me by the main characters and the relationships between them - I didn’t find any of them particularly attractive or engaging and there was way too much detail about their sexual interaction. I began skipping over whole pages to get back to the expeditions. And there were some niggling loose ends that continued to frustrate me after I’d finished the book - what became of Henry Haddo?, for example.
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  • Lance
    January 1, 1970
    "At times, the land can seem sullen and lifeless. It gives nothing, it expects nothing, except to be left alone. And there are times when it is overwhelmingly rich - glorious and unnecessary, as if the birds are the land's laughter."Stef Penney has done it again. Infinitely more mature and subtle than her impressive first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, this novel tackles the Arctic circle itself. The descriptions, as her previous work on British imperial Canada, are breath-taking. "One morning "At times, the land can seem sullen and lifeless. It gives nothing, it expects nothing, except to be left alone. And there are times when it is overwhelmingly rich - glorious and unnecessary, as if the birds are the land's laughter."Stef Penney has done it again. Infinitely more mature and subtle than her impressive first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, this novel tackles the Arctic circle itself. The descriptions, as her previous work on British imperial Canada, are breath-taking. "One morning, the ice pulled off one of its most seductive tricks: an eruption of crystal flowers, jagged white blooms strewn across the ice as if there had been a frost wedding." Penney brings so much character to the setting, personifying the uncharted North of the late 1800s as complex, unreadable entity. "In the morning, grey light creeps slowly back into the valley, as if ashamed of what it reveals." The descriptions have all the charm of a children's book. "A ruined masterpiece from a vanished civilisation" A Secret Garden of ice.Not only is the setting beautiful, but Penney brings some unique literary techniques to the Arctic experience. The restless endless day is captured as a linear series of moments, an environment of stark individualism where time is felt as more real than in the crowded civilisations of London and New York. "she tries not to torture herself with each passing minute, ticked off with an agonising flatness that mocks her presumptions." Here, every instant is definite, separate. "They have to impose a rhythm and a structure on the subtle place, because, if they did not, they could not truly say they had discovered anything." I've never seen such intricate play with time and setting before. It is complemented beautifully by the subtle symbolism with the changing identity of the Pole star as thousands of years pass; Polaris, Vega, Arcturus, faint but perfect Turban, and the lonely eras of stellar emptiness that somehow foreshadow the end of the great explorations. Every sense is heightened here. "the sensations of warmth, comfort, and taste are overwhelming."As in her previous work in which Native Americans in Canada feature, I greatly enjoyed Penney's treatment on the Inuit people. Those who are treated by many explorers as savages despite their ability to live their daily lives in conditions that are a constant peril to Westerners. "We cannot forms real friendships, she thinks, because friends should be equal, and here we can never be equal." The narrative is at its most tragic describing the fates preserved Inuit mummies left to decay in a museum vault after a short burst of sensationalist media coverage, and the barely human deaths of four living Inuit people paraded in New York as a circus-like exhibition. "'You can't let them rot! They're people! They had names, and souls ...'" In contrast to this treatment, the Inuit characters especially Meqro, Simiak, and Sorqaq are well-developed. Their alienation from Western society comes from a strong cultural identity, yet these intelligent warm characters enrich the lives of those who treat them well. There is nothing more representative of this than the inclusion of phrases from the Inuit language where English fails to express something. One example that stayed with me was "Ayornamut", which might well have been the title of the book, meaning something regrettable that could not have been avoided. I was glad to learn about Inuit culture without patronisation or excessive political correctness.The major characters in this novel were also highly engaging. "those golden-age explorers were an unpleasant lot - selfish, elusive, ruthless." There is the British explorer, Flora Mackie, who has been raised by her widowed father on a Dundee whaling ship and grew up at home in northern Greenland. "she was a young girl on a ship full of men, going to a land of ice, a sea of blood." She is admirably relentless in her pursuit of a degree, self-sacrificing and brave in her monumental efforts to accrue the required funding for a scientific expedition which will take her back to her beloved Greenland, and her leadership of men is admirably astute. She is a great portrait of the strength of will required to be an influential woman in the nineteenth century. "She did not want to be seen as a woman before she was seen as Flora."The other point of view character is Dutch-American Jakob de Bayne, a geologist and passionate humanitarian. "Ice was something so strange, so other, but associated with escape, with distraction from fear, a panacea against the struggles of life." Although dismissed by some for his lack of ambition as "a slight, nervy weakling.", Jakob has incredible mental resolve, the real key to survival of the extremes. "he was only truly happy when he was away from civilisation." This crystalises into something harder than ice when Jakob's close friend Frank Urbino is killed in an accident on his first expedition North, and the expedition leader Lester Armitage uses Frank's death as an opportunity to fabricate discoveries that only Frank could have approved or refuted. Jakob is equally energised by the poor treatment of his Inuit friends, a subtle and stirring message for racial equality.Although I loved both Jakob and Flora as individuals, I found that their love affair was often sordid and focused on interrogating the worst of both characters. This was off-putting for me to see characters I admired reduced to defending their flaws, and the only reason I could not give the book five stars. However, I have not read a 600 page book before that was so captivating, that felt as if it was over in only a moment. I will definitely be picking up Penney's next work, it is great to see that she is continuing to improve her ample strengths."Stepping inside the tunnel was to go from one world into another - where the air was hard, with a harsh smell and a metallic chill."
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  • Bibliophile
    January 1, 1970
    Summing up the year, my mother and I agreed that any hope died with the Orange One, climate change won't slow down, and we'll never see a real winter again. Focusing on the silver lining, mom expressed gratitude for the lack of grandkids, as we're heading for the apocalypse. But for all that cheerful cynicism, the melting of the Arctic ices seriously breaks my heart (and causes anthrax outbreaks). Which may be why I got all tearful reading Under A Pole Star. It takes places in the late 1800's, a Summing up the year, my mother and I agreed that any hope died with the Orange One, climate change won't slow down, and we'll never see a real winter again. Focusing on the silver lining, mom expressed gratitude for the lack of grandkids, as we're heading for the apocalypse. But for all that cheerful cynicism, the melting of the Arctic ices seriously breaks my heart (and causes anthrax outbreaks). Which may be why I got all tearful reading Under A Pole Star. It takes places in the late 1800's, and the only thing melting the ice is the steamy sex lady explorer Flora is having with fellow explorer Jakob. Doomed romance among glaciers, unearthly beauty, starry nights and frostbite - it's all very moving and I sobbed like a sad polar bear. If you don't feel sentimental about the Arctic Circle, you may find the pacing a little slow.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    Got some 200 pages into this and just couldn't get up the energy to keep going. At first the book looks like a real winner with its Polar atmosphere and the sense of exploring new places, but it gets bogged down again and again with overdone sexual scenes between various characters. By 200 pages it felt as though the story was never going to move forward, except at a glacial pace...
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    A short version of this review was completed for the LoveReading Reader Review Panel. My thanks to them for the copy of the novel. This is the story of Flora, she was a Scottish scientist and explorer. She spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat, and as such she had developed a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. We follow Flora as she returned to the Arctic as an adult, and met the romantic interest in the novel; Jakob.I gave th A short version of this review was completed for the LoveReading Reader Review Panel. My thanks to them for the copy of the novel. This is the story of Flora, she was a Scottish scientist and explorer. She spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat, and as such she had developed a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. We follow Flora as she returned to the Arctic as an adult, and met the romantic interest in the novel; Jakob.I gave this novel 3 stars, I thought it was ok. There were aspects of the novel I enjoyed, the author's descriptions of the Arctic were particularly impressive in this novel. Penney's use of emotive language very successfully conveyed the beauty of the landscape she was describing, but also the inherent danger of the place. There were whole passages that painted detailed pictures of the sun rising or the starry night sky.I also really enjoyed the exploration aspect of this novel, I was intrigued by the idea of a female explorer at that time, and the struggles she would inevitably face. I also enjoyed learning how an expedition would be carried out in the late 19th century, just how much planning was involved etc. Many of the struggles Flora faced were tied up in her femininity, she faced a lot of prejudice as she tried to plan and lead her own expedition in a world filled with misogyny, and I enjoyed how the author described these, and how Flora battled past them all.However, this novel is 600+ pages long, and it did not contain enough action or gripping enough characters to keep me intrigued throughout, and I found I had very little desire to pick the book up. I thought the characters had lots of promise, but unfortunately the author failed to shape them into fully developed characters, or in Flora's case she made her so cold and aloof that it was impossible to get to know her, and thus to care about her at all. Jakob and the whole cast of minor characters were so poorly developed that I wasn't invested in any of them, and at times I actually struggled to tell them apart. A large portion of the beginning of the novel was taken up with explaining Flora and Jakob's childhood and university experiences respectively. It added very little to the story, didn't really develop the underdeveloped characters, and was a serious struggle to wade through. I believe that this novel could have been improved by a bit of culling, removal of extra scenes that added very little to the story but took up far too much time to get through. This would have made the novel quicker to read, which may have allowed me to get more involved with the characters, and so enjoy the novel more.The latter half of the novel is mostly about the romantic relationship between Flora and Jakob. There are quite a lot of graphic sex scenes in this novel, so if that is something that bothers you then I would be cautious about reading this novel. This didn't bother me, but due to the high number of sex scenes there was little else written about their relationship other than this. We weren't given an insight into their relationship in any way other than physically, which I find disappointing, as a relationship is built on a multitude of things, and for it to be believable to the reader it must have this evidence behind it.Overall, this novel contains many beautiful descriptions of the Arctic, and is an ok story of the first explorers of the Arctic, but is sadly let down by poorly developed characters and limp and lifeless romance.
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  • Jean Gill
    January 1, 1970
    Award-winning adventure with passion and frostbiteI finished re-reading ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’, which is one of my all-time favourite books, and I dived straight into this equally snow-bound tale of another unusual woman. This time the heroine is a famous Arctic explorer, brought up on ships by her whaler father and, to his concern, determined to follow her own Polaris.It took me a while to adapt to the new character and British Victorian background, especially as the prologue presented Flor Award-winning adventure with passion and frostbiteI finished re-reading ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’, which is one of my all-time favourite books, and I dived straight into this equally snow-bound tale of another unusual woman. This time the heroine is a famous Arctic explorer, brought up on ships by her whaler father and, to his concern, determined to follow her own Polaris.It took me a while to adapt to the new character and British Victorian background, especially as the prologue presented Flora as a woman in her 70s, giving little away to the young reporter who badgers her to spill the beans regarding rivalries and deaths during early polar explorations. Flora does indeed know the truth behind those rivalries and deaths, and that is where gripping adventures come to life.The historical detail makes you feel the constraints on Victorian women; the frustration of sitting at the back of the lecture room, with the other women, unable to even hear the men’s questions at the front and being put down every time you try to assert yourself; the emotional damage of an empty marriage that pays the exploring bills. At the same time, the courage and intelligence of a woman like Flora – and there were many – is inspirational.All the friendships and rivalries in the explorers’ race to be ‘the first’, in a landscape that kills, are as convincing as the relationships between explorers and Inuits, and the tragic, well-documented visit of an Inuit family to the USA. Heartbreaking.This novel has it all; mystery, passionate love, history and a landscape that makes you curl up in your armchair and enjoy the shivers. I can’t understand why this isn’t a worldwide bestseller and I’m not surprised it’s won the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award 2017.
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  • booksofallkinds
    January 1, 1970
    **RATING 4.5**UNDER A POLE STAR by Stef Penney is a hypnotic narrative with a dark edge, that will pull you into another time and place, where survival isn't always guaranteed. The story is based on Flora's life as we watch her grow up on her father's whaling boat in the nineteenth Century, which was considered highly improper for a girl at that time, to later in life when she becomes a meteorologist and marries a man who will help her realise her wish to co-lead a scientific expedition. We trul **RATING 4.5**UNDER A POLE STAR by Stef Penney is a hypnotic narrative with a dark edge, that will pull you into another time and place, where survival isn't always guaranteed. The story is based on Flora's life as we watch her grow up on her father's whaling boat in the nineteenth Century, which was considered highly improper for a girl at that time, to later in life when she becomes a meteorologist and marries a man who will help her realise her wish to co-lead a scientific expedition. We truly get to know Flora, flaws and all, as she embarks into the Arctic once again, and falls deeply in love with Jakob DeBeyn. Through the golden age of discovery we are enveloped in this harsh world of many sides, and as we travel alongside Flora's life-journey, many mysteries and enigmas become unearthed. UNDER A POLE STAR by Stef Penney is a piece of historical genius and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but be warned, at 608 pages, this is not a short, light, read.*Book received from Netgalley.com
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    This is the love story of Flora, a meteorologist, and Jacob, a geologist, set in the golden age of the Arctic explorers against the entrancing backdrop of the icy Arctic region.While the characters are interesting (especially Jacob), and in particular their motivations for going to such a dangerous place for months, even years at a time, I wasn't much moved by the romance and the (too) many sex scenes. Besides the love story, the plot was very thin.I loved the time and place of the story, but he This is the love story of Flora, a meteorologist, and Jacob, a geologist, set in the golden age of the Arctic explorers against the entrancing backdrop of the icy Arctic region.While the characters are interesting (especially Jacob), and in particular their motivations for going to such a dangerous place for months, even years at a time, I wasn't much moved by the romance and the (too) many sex scenes. Besides the love story, the plot was very thin.I loved the time and place of the story, but here again, not enough was made of the exploring side of the novel. I expected more adventure in this Northern.In addition, I found Penney's prose very bare, almost abrupt - surely much more so than in her previous novel?However I enjoyed finding out about the explorers' camps and the Inuit way of life. It was certainly different and provided much welcome escapism.Overall, this is quite a pleasant read, but I was left a little disappointed. If my memory serves me well, "Tenderness with wolves" was a lot more satisfying: more plot, more atmosphere, etc.
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