Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney
From the author of the Costa Book award winning The Tenderness of Wolves comes the third novel from Stef Penney and a story set over two time frames and a land of frozen landscapes in Under a Pole Star.
It is 1948 and a group of scientists are heading to the North Pole and among the group is Flora Mackie. Flora is 77-years-old and a renowned scientist and explorer in her younger days. But this is no scientific trip for Flora this is more of a trip down memory lane and a time to recall memories of previous arctic explorations. While talking with a member of the press ‘The Snow Queen’ starts to explore her own memories and of one trip in 1892 to Greenland and this was with her father who was a Whaling Captain as well as other explorations that followed.
Flora born in Dundee and brought up by her father when her mother died but as time passes Flora becomes her own person and independently minded and fascinated by the land of ice and snow and the people who inhabit the frozen lands. She first explored Arctic Circle at the age of 12 and even at this tender age she wanted to be taken seriously.
In 1892 she led an expedition to Greenland and at the same time Jakob de Beyn from America was among a rival expedition and this is being led by Lester Armitage and it is no surprise that both expeditions meet and for Flora and Jakob this is moment that will shape their lives. Flora, Jakob and Lester all share one common theme they love and passion for these cold forbidden lands of perpetual endless days and nights that seemingly never end. You just know that something is coming in this mammoth book of 600 pages and it comes in the form of a tragedy that will haunt many of them and these lands for the rest of their days.
Flora is a determined character in this story in an age dominated by male explorers it is hard not to admire her courage in the face of not only the freezing lands but also the men of this time. Here in this story is not on exploration but also of a love story against a backdrop of the golden age of exploration.
The incredible beauty of the Arctic Ocean the colours of the ice and snow and the endless night skies full of stars. This is breath-taking story and a mystery that still requires resolving and for Flora returning to the land of ice and snow in 1948 returns for the last time to solve the long-standing mystery and lay this to rest.
Under a Pole Star is dramatic story that is the perfect read for cold winters nights.
Thank you to Hannah Robinson at Quercus Books for the advanced review copy.
Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney is published by Quercus and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.