The edge of the earth means different things to different people. It also depends on the context. Mount Everest is one edge–the top edge at approximately 29,035 feet. To people living in the 17th and 18th centuries’ Europe, Australia was probably the edge of the earth, if they realized it even existed. Then, there’s Antarctica or the bottom tip of South America.
If I cut my cell phone, laptop, e-readers and tablet off, Cumberland Island
off the coast of Georgia (the state, not the country) is an edge because of its isolation and ability to get away from everything. I found another edge– from parachuting from 30,000 feet up.
Christina Schwartz in The Edge of the Earth is about another edge, the lonely island off the California coast where the Point Sur (a.k.a.Lucia) lighthouse
and my love of historical fiction. It is also nice when I happen to read a novel about a place I have visited.
Set near the turn of the century, in 1898, The Edge of Earth tells the story of a prim and proper maiden, Trudy that risks all for love. And, I mean all. From an upper middle class family and being guaranteed the certainty of a prosperous marriage, Trudy, the protagonist-narrator abandons all to marry Oskar who floats from one thing to another, unable to finish anything before starting on another project.
Where does she land?
On a island that is remote and nearly uninhabitable, except for the lighthouse that is tended 24-7 by what appeared to me two blended families. I say appeared because the relationships between the characters never became all that clear to me. Nonetheless, Trudy tells the story, makes you feel for her, although I agree with another reviewer who felt like at times whacking Trudy on the back of the head and calling her dense. Trudy is aggravating but then she has never experienced the harshness of life before this. Naivete is to be expected.
Schwartz blends together a naive protagonist, the criminal element in the form of Archie, the optimistic dreamer in the form of Oskar, whose entanglement with Archie costs Oskar his life, the history and untouched beauty of Point Sur, and an aboriginal angle called “Helen.” Admittedly, the aboriginal angle…well…might not be native to Point Sur. That too is expected. After all, it is a work of fiction.
Aside from the beginning, which created a problem getting into the story line, and my inability to figure out the relationships of those already living on the island when Trudy and Oskar arrive, The Edge of Earth was a good comfortable read that did not contain explicit violence and sex.