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Publisher's Summary

A decade ago, novelist and short story writer Jean McNeil spent a year as writer-in-residence with the British Antarctic Survey, and four months on the world's most enigmatic continent - Antarctica. Access to the Antarctic remains largely reserved for scientists, and it is the only piece of earth that is nobody's country. Ice Diaries is the story of McNeil's years spent in ice, not only in the Antarctic, but her subsequent travels to Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard, culminating in a strange event in Cape Town, South Africa, where she journeyed to make what was to be her final trip to the southernmost continent.

In the spirit of the diaries of Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, McNeil mixes travelogue, popular science, and memoir to examine the history of our fascination with ice. In entering this world, McNeil unexpectedly finds herself confronting her own upbringing in the Maritimes, 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 haunting story of the relationship between beauty and terror, loss and abandonment, transformation and triumph.

©2016 Jean McNeil (P)2017 ECW Press

What listeners say about Ice Diaries

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a great read and listen

The narrator, Bridget Wareham, brings vividly to life this non-fiction (or partly non) account of McNeil's antarctic sojourn, the men and women she meets on the way there, and in the camps; the taciturn pilots, the self-assured scientists, all of them living in a world that is inhospitable, unforgiving, and, as McNeil discovers, unforgettable. This is one the best audiobooks I've listened to. It starts with McNeils evocative words, but it is the narrator who reads as if this were her story, her life, in a way that must make the author feel oddly like two people. Get it: you will be transported!

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Lyrical and surreal

This is the first book on travel to Antarctica that truly took me there. Perhaps because it was written by a non-scientist, perhaps because it was written by a woman, or perhaps because it didn’t aim to answer every question about this remote region. Travel on the ship down was as compelling as her time on the continent. I especially appreciated how she delineated her vastly different experiences when she first arrived (and had multiple options to leave) and her final stretch when she could only wait months for the first spring ship. I felt the difference. Well interwoven with her personal biography.
On a side note: it was well narrated and lyrical enough on its own… I listened to a couple clips of the “Booktrack version” and I think it would be too distracting.