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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spellbinding read
I loved this book. It is is one of the most satisfying novels I've read in many years. It operates on many levels, exploring complex relationships and an almost forgotten historical event, linking the two through the actions, needs and desires of the main characters.
This is the dramatic story of a race against time to save the life of a child, two year old Sam...
Published on May 21, 2001 by sara4768

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
As an imaginative exploration of history's hold on us, this book deserves top marks. Through the device of three separate stories it succeeds in establishing the resonance of events, remote in time and place. Skillfully and credibly Elizabeth McGregor forges a connection between a disastrous voyage of polar exploration in the 1840s and 21st century Britain...
Published on January 24, 2003


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spellbinding read, May 21, 2001
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
I loved this book. It is is one of the most satisfying novels I've read in many years. It operates on many levels, exploring complex relationships and an almost forgotten historical event, linking the two through the actions, needs and desires of the main characters.
This is the dramatic story of a race against time to save the life of a child, two year old Sam Marshall. The adored only son of journalist Jo has contracted severe aplastic anaemia and his only hope is a bone marrow transplant from his half-brother, John, who is a close match. But John is missing, his fate curiously linked to one of history's enduring mysteries - the fate of the Franklin expedition - and he's lost in the most inhospitable place on earth.
Essentially THE ICE CHILD is a story about the power of unconditional love and in particular a mother's love for her child. McGregor writes beautifully and has created a deeply moving story that will grab you from the very first page. This is storytelling of the highest order. ENJOY!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an unusual novel!, November 11, 2002
I've gotta pick up books like this out of the blue more often! It was such a tremendous surprise to me to find a well-written and articulate novel, based on a historical happening that I had never heard about. Most of the other reviewers have given a good synopsis of the surface story in this book. A young single mother is raising her son after the accidental death of the child's father, who was an academic explorer. The child comes face to face with a catastrophic illness, aplastic anemia, and the only real potential donor is the step-brother of this boy, a young adult, who the mother had alienated by charging him with responsibility for the death of the father of both. The story revolves around the search for this step-brother who is blaming himself for the loss of his father, and trying to follow in his father's footsteps as a means of forgiveness and absolution.
Underlying this poignant story is the true story of the 1845 Franklin expedition. I had no idea that even that late in the 19th century they were still trying to find a passage through the Northwest, over the American Continent. As per usual, the British need to explore and expand human knowledge, put them in the driver's seat. Two ships, combining sail and steam as the ultimate in technology at that time period, tried to make their way through the ice floes of the northern seas. Even with their best efforts including the metalization of the hulls of the ships and massive provisions from the new methods of storing foodstuffs in cans (for longer keeping), the ships were doomed to failure.
I checked online to the great quantities of information available concerning the Franklin expedition. Such notable groups as National Geographic are STILL searching for evidence of these ships and the locations of both the ships and the men, who were never heard from again. Only a few buried bodies and a a couple of canisters with information written by the captains concerning the whereabouts of these great ships have been found in over 150 years.
McGregor did her research and got the expedition information right, even though she had to create a 'voice' in the presence of a young boy on ship. In the midst of the heroic efforts of these men to survive and further the growth of human knowledge, the story of what actually led to their demise is horrifying. Once again, like with the shuttle Challenger, the greed of those men/corporations providing materials for these 'ships' doomed these men to almost sure death. In this case, it was the canned goods, which were sealed with tin that leaked lead into the meat inside. On top of that, the meat inside was often put in without prior cooking, and the temperatures reached for sealing the cans were not high enough to cook either the middle of the meat, nor complete the vacuum. This meant that the meats were raw, and over time became disgusting and putrid, as well as many of the tins contained botulism (one of the faster acting toxins even used in biowarfare today). There is written evidence of an inquiry into the tin cans from the 1850's and the exposure of this horrific negligence in order to gain more money by the man who supplied these goods to the royal navy of Britain. Once again, man's inhumanity to man raises it's ugly head.
The book is extremely articulate, the pictures drawn by the author well-done. The agony of the mother and those who love this child who is going through chemotherapy and the push for a bone marrow transplant are accurate (as I've been through it with a friend's daughter who did not survive with leukemia).
I went through this book in two days flat even with work and dissertation.Highly recommended!!!
Karen Sadler,
Science Education
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, January 24, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
As an imaginative exploration of history's hold on us, this book deserves top marks. Through the device of three separate stories it succeeds in establishing the resonance of events, remote in time and place. Skillfully and credibly Elizabeth McGregor forges a connection between a disastrous voyage of polar exploration in the 1840s and 21st century Britain.
Unfortunately, one of the novel's central supports, the modern-day story of a journalist, her polar explorer lover and their desperately sick child, fails to carry its weight. It revolves around a cast of poorly constructed characters with whom it is difficult to develop much empathy. The plot, thin at best, borders on the banal. Although exhaustively researched, that part of the story never really grabs hold, never rings true.
However, Ms. McGregor is on much firmer ground when she takes us to the Arctic. There the story takes on a luminous life. The characters are compelling and the account of their ordeal moving. Here, the fruits of the author's research evoke fascination - as opposed to irritation. In the hands of this skillful writer the story attains a magisterial quality, worthy of the tragedy at its heart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue now and then, May 11, 2002
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
Although Elizabeth McGregor moves back and forward in time in her novel "The Ice Child", it is so well written that no confusion abounds. This tale of obsession and romance will lead readers into new territories and through a myriad of emotions. The drama, action and authentic charactors keep you turning the pages through to the end. Well plotted and easily read.
Beverly J Scott author of Righteous Revenge
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, July 15, 2001
By 
Carol Peters (Santa Cruz, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
Three stories -- one good, one thin but decent, and a third just hack writing in the thriller style. The good part of this novel is about the failed Franklin expedition -- interesting history, well-rendered, good focus on the boy, Gus and the second in command, Crozier. The decent story is of a polar bear, also well-researched and captivating. Tied to these two is the modern day story about the explorer and the journalist. The author creates stereotypes instead of real people. The story of the child is nothing but a tear jerker. The behavior of the half-brother, John, is extreme and unbelievable. And the idea that an intelligent and drop-dead beautiful woman like Catherine would fall for the warped John is absurd. Other than that, it's a decent read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great summer read, June 19, 2001
By 
MaryAnn (Salisbury, New Caledonia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
The Ice Child flips back and forth between two different stories. The first is the ill fated Franklin expedition and the second is about the man obsessed with the first and how that obsession affects his family. McGregor skillfully balances both stories while keeping you on the edge. Some scenes are predictable, but the book makes an engrossing summer read. It may not become one of your all time favorites, but read it for the harrowing scenes of the Franklin expedition and a mother who will go to any lengths to save her son.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Arctic adventures, February 28, 2011
Meticulously researched double fictional saga about the Franklin expedition to complete the charting of the Northwest Passage in the Arctic in the mid 1840's and also about a current day attempt to find Franklin's lost expedition. I especially enjoyed the fictionalized account of a young sailor under Franklin's command. The entire tale was spellbinding. It was only in the last couple of chapters of the book that the story faltered for me and even then it didn't ruin the read for me.

Another great fictionalized account of this expedition is The Terror by Dan Simmons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Summer Vacation Novel, September 21, 2006
I got this book at a book exchange grocery store in Arkansas. I enjoyed reading it and am with many of the other reviewers who had never heard of the Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The mix of present day with past and the incidental story of the polar bear kept the book fresh and one could never declare they were bored while reading it. I came away feeling the book would make a great movie and with an insatiable curiosity about this expedition. I loved and appreciated the authors footnote at the end of the story. I gave my book exchange book to my friends in Arkansas to read and now must get another one for my Northern Wisconsin friends.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unhappy blend of romance and history, June 12, 2001
By 
Russell A. Potter (Providence, RI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ice Child (Hardcover)
I opened The Ice Child expecting to read an historical novel, informed by the abiding mystery of the lost Franklin expedition. What I got was a warmed-over romance novel, ridden with cliches and purple prose, its characters about as convincing as pasteboard puppets. It's too bad, too, since the parts of the novel actually set during the 1840's when Franklin was underway are quite decent -- McGregor could have written a fairly compelling historical novel, but instead has produced a mashed-up mini-series. Readers looking for a fully mature historical fiction drawing upon these themes would do much better to pick up Andrea Barrett's Voyage of the Narwhal, now in paperback.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting but Flawed, October 19, 2002
Prior to reading "The Ice Child", I'd never heard of the Franklin expedition and was unfamiliar with past Arctic Explorations and the search for the Northwest passage. McGregor writes a story that switches from the Franklin expedition of the past to the present day tale of a mother trying to save the life of her ill son.
The chapters of "The Ice Child" which are told from the point-of-view of a member of the Franklin expedition are remarkably well-done, involving, and educational. While we can already guess the ultimate fate of the Arctic explorers, I was still engrossed by their story and was delighted to learn what life as an 1845 explorer was like.
The novel's present day story pales in comparison however. Nothing about the present day characters particularly grabbed me and I never felt emotionally involved with their tale. The central character suffers so much tragedy in such a short time that I felt I never got to know her. She merely moved from one tragic event to the next without ever becoming a fully developed character. This part of the novel was very weak, and for that reason I'm giving it 3 stars.
However, two weeks after reading the book I find the story of the Franklin expedition popping into my mind at odd moments. I'm still haunted by their tale, and believe "The Ice Child" would have been a much better story if it had stuck with the Artic exploration alone.
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The Ice Child
The Ice Child by Elizabeth McGregor (Hardcover - May 1, 2001)
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