Okay book friends, this have been driving me crazy for a long time. I started this book circa 2001, and for some reason was not able to finish it. I have a feeling it was due back at the library, and for some reason I was never able to get it again to finish it. Now many years later, the ending to this book eludes me!!
Here's what I remember. The story is told through journal entries and letters. The main character is an explorer who embarks on a journey across northern Canada. They may have been looking for the Northwest Passageway. I'm not sure. The main character starts with a large ship and a crew, but loses them for some reason. I remember a scene where they get stuck on an iceberg, but I'm not sure where it falls in the plot line.
Throughout the story he is writing journal entries, which he addresses to his wife. I believe much of the story is told through her, much later.
I specifically remember scenes where our main character is left with just 1 or 2 crewman, and maybe a native guide. They no longer have the ship, and they are passing though small streams with only a canoe. They have to carry the canoe much of the time, because the route is so tedious.
Here is where things start to get fuzzy. I recall that the main character ends up alone, and winter has set in. He is sick/weak/freezing and can't go on so he finds/makes something resembling a poor shelter and essentially waits to die, thinking of all his failures.
BUT, if I recall correctly, the audience knows that help is on the way in several forms, but we don't know the timeline of if/when any will make it to him. I think his wife was supposed to meet him somewhere at the end of his journey, but he never showed so she has hired a team of people to go searching for him. I think that at least one of his former companions has survived and is still seeking help for him as well.
Somehow the native population comes into play as well, but I don't remember how.
That's all I remember! I can not remember/didn't finish the book and have no idea if help finds him, or not! Please help! After 17 years I'm struck with the absolute need to know how this book ended!
Other notes: I would have been in high school when I read this book, but I doubt it was a YA book. YA wasn't really my style, and I remember there being very graphic scenes about death and losing body parts to frost bite.
I've done some googling, of course, and I can find a few explorers who were involved with disastrous expeditions across Canada. John Franklin and Henry Hudson both fit the bill, but I can't find any book about either that fits with my memories.