cover image The Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame: A Life of Louise Arner Boyd

The Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame: A Life of Louise Arner Boyd

Joanna Kafarowski. Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $24.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-4597-3970-3

Scholar and geographer Kafarowski’s debut is an exhaustively researched account of the remarkable life of Louise Arner Boyd, a socialite and daring Arctic explorer. Born in 1887 to a wealthy family in San Rafael, Calif., Boyd became the sole heir of her father’s fortune when she was 32. Fascinated by the Arctic, she led six expeditions there between 1926 and 1941 and was part of the 1928 search party for Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Boyd was also one of the first women to cross the North Pole, in a flight arranged in her late 60s. Though she encountered many obstacles, including a few men for whom female leadership was anathema, her spirit was indomitable and her contributions to Arctic studies, including data she provided to scientists developing radio weather forecasting and to the U.S. military to revise its maps and charts, are indisputable. The book does not dwell on the hardships of its protagonist any more than Boyd herself seems to have done. Instead, it paints a portrait of a brilliant, eccentric woman who was well ahead of her time. Kafarowski vividly transports readers into her subject’s northern expeditions. Arctic aficionados, history buffs, and feminists will all be intrigued by this story of an adventurous life. (Dec.)