Beyond Road’s End: Living Free in Alaska


The author lives an interesting life and can put together interesting stories. Beyond Road’s End: Living Free in Alaska is a series of stories rather than a coherent narrative.

The author, Jan, left her husband for Ed, got married, hopped in Ed’s green van and moved to the Alaskan bush. Ed and Jan didn’t give it all up to live in the Alaskan bush. They didn’t have much in New Hampshire. The longer they stayed in Alaska, the more creature comforts they acquired.

They have many interesting adventures and meet many characters along the way. Characters in many ways, as you might expect in the Alaskan wilderness.

Unfortunately, the author makes the characters seem robotic. She uses forced conversations to carry the narrative. It seems clear that most of the book was written many years after the events took place. I don’t know why she tries to recreate the conversations that took place. They come across as very flat, artificial and two-dimensional. For me, that ruined the book.

I was willing to accept the narrative flaws and loose ends. After all, the book was meant to be autobiographical. Life has narrative flaws and loose ends.

Jan insists on filling the narrative with these artificial conversations. The best parts of the book are those where Jan is more of a spectator than a participant. As she tells in the introduction, she is uncomfortable writing about herself. When talking to Ed, “I hate writing when we are central characters.” That comes across clearly.

In the interest of disclosure, the publisher sent me a free copy with hopes that I would review it.