under a pole star

stef penney

‘It is a tribute to Penney’s superlative descriptive skills that the book’s erotic charge is so startlingly effective, and that her icy landscapes cast such a lasting, almost hallucinatory spell. This combination is the true rocket fuel of Under a Pole Star, and what makes it resonate long after the Snow Queen has divulged her long-held secret’ 


‘Penney writes with a persuasive and appealing hunger . . . there is a touch of Donna Tartt here’

The Times

 ‘A hugely generous narrative, epic in scope . . . marks a triumphant return’ 

Financial Times

‘A beautifully written tale, elegant and well-observed, full of powerful descriptions of a dazzling landscape.’ 

Sunday Express

'Penney’s prose is rapturous, whether she is describing the landscape, or in her detailed and richly imagined passages on the attraction and intimacy between Flora and Jakob. By telling their story through recollection and the letters that they send, Penney imparts an additional layer of suspense, with neither the reader nor the characters knowing what may come, resulting in an exciting and transportive novel.'

Publishers Weekly (US)

‘[A] stunningly evocative tale about an intrepid young female explorer. As immersive as it is mesmerising, this is a novel that you won’t ever forget.’ 


‘A terrific and beautifully written yarn that will make readers yearn to travel and fall in love in a cold climate.’ 

The Times

‘It is in the masterfully evoked Arctic landscape and in her depictions of sex that she finds her true, dazzling stride.’


‘This is an epic love story set against the forbidding beauty of snow meadows. A perfect winter read.’  


‘What has marked Penney out from the start is her ability to make her extensive historical research come alive.’ 

Sunday Herald

‘A classic Bildungsroman . . . Penney explores themes of love, desire, companionship, and the difference between the three.’

Times Literary Supplement

‘Encompassing big historical themes, vast expanses of territory, and passion in its various forms—for knowledge, for discovery, and in the shape of American geologist Jakob, for human love—Under a Pole Star is epic in scope and delivery.’

Writing Magazine

‘Stef Penney’s first novel, The Tenderness Of Wolves, won the Costa Book of the Year Award in 2006 and this no-less-powerful drama is played out against a landscape that dominates her imagination.’ 

Daily Mail