I’ve been neglecting my CPR Book Group recently so I thought it was about time I got around to reading another book by an author in need of a bit of a boost. Edna Ferber was a very successful author in her day, which was the 1920s and 30s but she had a long career and her last book was published in 1963. She was a Pulitzer prize winner. I hadn’t even heard of Ferber when Anbolyn at Gudrun’s Tights mentioned her as a possible candidate for The CPR Book Group which is a place where people can nominate authors whom they consider to be neglected or even particular books which they think deserve more attention than they are getting.
I read and enjoyed Show Boat which was made into a musical of course but Ice Palace was written in 1958 and was her second last book.
It’s set in Alaska in the 1950s, a time when Alaska was a territory and not a state, which meant that they were suffering from that old bugbear taxation without representation. Although Alaska was being plundered for all her minerals, fish and such goodies, it wasn’t getting any benefit from all the industrialisation which was going on around the territory. The workers all came from ‘Outside’ and they didn’t even receive their pay until they got back to the States so the wealth was being taken out of Alaska in all ways.
I must say that it took me a wee while to get into this book but after about page 60 I did begin to enjoy it and I learned a lot about Alaska along the way.
Quite a lot of characters seemed to be thrown at me in the beginning but the main ones are Christine Storm and her two granfathers who are completely different from each other. Czar Kennedy is a rampaging capitalist whilst Thor Storm is a conservationist, naturalist, historian and anthropologist, well educated and decent.
Christine’s upbringing is shared by her two grandfathers who have her for three months at a time and Bridie Ballantyne helps out too. Christine is an orphan, in fact according to this book the female mortality rate in Alaska must have been very high!
It’s a book about greed, ambition, murky politics and dodgy people as well as decent ones. In some ways it was way before its time as Christine has no ambition to be the First Lady which is Czar Kennedy’s wish – she wants Alaska to get statehood and plans to become the Governor one day. Fortunately she’s not at all like Sarah Palin!
All in all it’s well written and an entertaining informative read, for me anyway as I knew very little about Alaska but it did seem to end very abruptly with things left up in the air, as if there was going to be a sequel, but I don’t think there was although Ferber did write another book after this one. Definitely one to be given a bit of a boost.
If you have a favourite author or book which you feel should be more widely read don’t hesitate to mention them.