Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: Arctic Homestead

I've had Arctic Homestead on my TBR list for years and finally got it through Paperback Swap several months ago. This is Norma Cobb's true story of homesteading in Alaska with her husband and five kids in the 1970s.

I'll admit to a fascination—not quite an obsession—with books about homesteading in Alaska. I'm not sure why; I truly don't think I have a hidden desire to survive in the wilderness, although taking a six-month sabbatical would be awesome. I loved Mrs. Mike and Into the Wild. I wasn't crazy about Jean Aspen's Arctic Son, and Cobb's Arctic Homestead was more reminiscent of Aspen's narrative. But Norma Cobb is (for the most part) a more cheerful narrator, whereas Aspen was annoying and whiny.

That said, I also found Cobb to be a completely unreliable narrator, mostly because of the stories of the family's relationships with other homesteaders or casual visitors. She is utterly paranoid and quick to point out other's faults. Norma and Lester were always right in whatever actions they took, and the "others" were always wrong, crazy, and/or sissies. Somehow that just didn't ring true to me.

Still, if you are reading this for the spirit of adventure and a longing for wilderness, it's an entertaining read. This would be a great book to curl up with on a long winter's night.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah! I really enjoy reading your reviews. They help me navigate my way around the library. What is paperback swap?

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

Paperback Swap is an online book trading system. Check it out at It's a great place especially to get books you can't seem to find at the library or used book stores.

Leah Courtney said...

Okay, I've got to stop reading book reviews or I'll have so many books I want to read I'll never get through! Already I think it could take several years to catch up on the pile I have at home as well as those I've been reading reviews of.

This one sounds good though. I'm not big on whiny people, but I do like true stories and homesteading in Alaska sounds exciting.

Anonymous said...

I have read the book and I have been there and that is what it was and is like. Personally I loved it because I can relate to all of the hardships they endured. From the mosquitoes to the logistical problems of building and getting any kind of supplies in there. Just traversing the gray Alaskan mud is difficult and with 5 children - just amazing to me !!!