Thursday, July 9, 2009
I both enjoyed and disliked this book.
I enjoyed it because Janice Schofield Eaton has an interesting story to tell, and I felt like she was someone who I could sit next to at a dinner party and enjoy hearing tales of adventure living in Alaska for hours. At the end of the dinner party I would tell her, "You really should write this all down. This is a fascinating story with amazing characters." She lived an exciting life as Alaska was coming of age, and she had the thought to capture it and share it. I was interested in how neighborly everyone was and how Janice and Ed became environmental activists after the Exxon Valdez spill. I was interested in how they got along in the wilds, using outhouses and stocking up on provisions for months at a time. I loved that Janice began to know and catalog medicinal herbs. Its a lovely, captivating story. It felt much the same way that the Laura Ingalls Wilder books felt: deep description about how they do things out on the Alaskan frontier (as opposed to the Prairie).
My problems with the book mostly have to do with her narrative style. It reads almost like a play-by-play book from someone's journal. The dialogue feels unnatural, and there is little personal reflection, simply a catalog on what they did and when. There were no dates until the oil spill, so it felt a little dislocated in time. I kept wondering, when is this going on?
I would love to know how native Alaskans like this story. I will also continue to hope to run into Ms Schofield-Eaton at a dinner party someday. Perhaps I will travel to New Zealand...
This book was part of the ER program on Librarything. If anyone would like to read it, I would love to share it. Just leave a note for me on the blog.