... intricate and beautifully written ... though the seed of this novel — Odd’s trial against the elements in 1897 — is engaging and memorable, it is not what makes the core of the story. Those events, both in Odd’s life and in Greta’s life, come later. They are, as the journalist’s words imply, only something that can be seen after the fact when the cold is gone and a moment’s respite offers a chance at self-reflection ... isn’t simply a story about surviving nature. There are polar bears, deadly crevasses and blinding whiteouts aplenty, but it’s rather a story about the events that come when one emerges from the storm. For Odd and for Greta, more than a hundred years later, it’s the story of love, marriage and, in the broader sense, life. Geye is at his best when describing Odd’s predicaments throughout. The language is lyrical and often poetic, almost sounding as if Mary Shelley herself had come back to describe the frozen north ... While Greta’s chapters seem decidedly more straightforward in their layout and descriptions, Geye’s wonderful gift for words is evident throughout, not only describing Greta but also her family lineage.
... has something for everyone: history, adventure, romance and spiritual awakening ... Both Greta and Odd experience longing and loneliness, stark emotions depicted as clearly as the breathtaking wintry settings. And then, out of the darkness come peace and love as warm as the tropics ... Strong characters steer the narrative with conviction. Stoic Greta is an independent woman, navigating divorce with both relatable mistakes and self-aware intention. Although not a believer in God, Odd is faithful, living each day for his family. His pithy and personal manner of describing what happens to him, and his feelings about these events, dignify the text. As Greta learns about Odd’s admirable bearing and spirit, she gains resolve, as well as a newfound buoyancy ... Geye rounds out his Eide family trilogy with a beautiful ode to the enduring human spirit.
Geye writes with an almost romantic passion about all things wintry ... Half the story is again set in the fictitious town of Gunflint in northern Minnesota, in contemporary time; the other (and far more compelling) half is set in Hammerfest, Norway, in the late 1800s ... Through Odd Einar, Geye imbues isolating bleakness with a perverse beauty ... Is it a reflection of modernity that their lovemaking involves a frank recitation of body parts? Or maybe the more intuited scenes of Inger and Odd Einar’s sexual life is what gives Stig and Greta’s couplings a whiff of the softest porn ... Yet these two story lines need each other. Odd Einar’s tale alone would be no more than a slim volume of folk heroism. Greta’s struggle to recover her heart could seem prosaic, if not for the deft interweaving of her family history, bringing the threads of the first two books of the trilogy into a finished tapestry ... Geye captures winter so well in its physical and emotional consequences. That this can leave a reader with a bit of a chill in both body and soul is a considered risk.