Minnesota, 2017: Greta no longer loves her husband. On her way to confront him in Oslo, where he has a work event, she spontaneously detours to Hammerfest, a town in northern Norway. There, she visits her family’s graves and discovers a link to her past she’d never known: Her ancestor Odd Eide survived two weeks alone in the Arctic in 1897. His story inspires Greta to tell her own.
Toggling between Odd’s and Greta’s stories, Northernmost has something for everyone: history, adventure, romance and spiritual awakening. Inspired by Fridtjof Nansen’s true expedition to the farthest point yet reached in the Arctic Circle, Odd’s journey across a sea of white and cold, complete with riveting bear encounters and near starvation, is as harrowing as his return home, where his wife and fellow villagers think he’s dead. Intertwined with the story of the slow rejuvenation of his marriage is the story of Greta’s renewed passion. 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.