About The Sealwoman's Gift
1627. In a notorious historical event, pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers. Among them a pastor, his wife, and their children.
In her acclaimed debut novel Sally Magnusson imagines what history does not record: the experience of Asta, the pastor's wife, as she faces her losses with the one thing left to her - the stories from home - and forges an ambiguous bond with the man who bought her.
Uplifting, moving, and witty, The Sealwoman's Gift speaks across centuries and oceans about loss, love, resilience and redemption.
My review of The Sealwoman's Gift
The Sealwoman's Gift is a magical, and somewhat dark and disturbing read that is set in Iceland and the heat of Algiers. It's a mesmerising read with a blend of lyrical language and Icelandic folklore. It's a beautiful book.
I hadn't read about the pirate invasion on Iceland back in the 1630s, and so although this book was a magical form of escapism, it also taught me about that point in history, about what happened to the people of Iceland, and of how they were treated by the pirates who enslaved them. The two worlds of fiction and historical fact are blended beautifully together to form this simply stunning story. The story of what happened back in 1627 is vividly brought to life. It's a harrowing, yet inspiring story of how humans will preserver and survive no matter what life throws at them. It's an incredibly empowering read.
This is a moving and powerful story. As I read through the pages I tried to put myself in Asta's shoes. Heavily pregnant, chained in the bough of a ship, forced to leave her homeland with her children to care and provide for. What I read was the story of a strong woman, comforted by stories of home; resolute and determined to survive. I couldn't stop reading Asta's tale and those of her family. It's spellbinding storytelling.
This book is a beautiful mixture of Icelandic folklore, history, and of how humans can both destroy and put each other back together again. It's a remarkable book.
With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the paperback copy.
The Sealwoman's Gift waa published in paperback by Two Roads on 14th June.