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Winner of the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize and one of the Guardian’s Best Books of 2016.
Drawn to understand what we might lose in a world without ice, acclaimed novelist and short-story writer Jean McNeil spent four months on the world’s most enigmatic continent — Antarctica. In the spirit of the diaries of Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, McNeil brings the austere beauty and the constant danger of the continent to life. Weaving science and narrative to examine the history of our fascination with ice, McNeil draws vivid portraits of the people who are drawn to this unforgiving continent and the importance of the research conducted in the world’s icy places. Her descriptions of the ships and bases, those thin membranes against the elements, are unforgettable.
Here, at the bottom of the world, the cold pulls at memory, and McNeil unexpectedly finds herself confronting her own Maritime upbringing, a harrowing childhood she thought she had left behind. Instead, she is brought face to face with the lifelong effects of growing up in a cold place and how the climates of childhood frame our emotional thermodynamics for life.
Ice Diaries is a rare glimpse at an elusive continent and a haunting story of the relationship between beauty and terror, loss and abandonment, transformation and triumph.