The Sealwoman's Gift
By Sally Magnusson
Read by Katherine Manners
The debut novel set in 17th century Iceland by Sunday Times bestselling author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson
The debut novel set in 17th century Iceland by Sunday Times bestselling author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson.
There is a true incident in Icelandic history little known outside their culture. In 1627, Barbary pirates raided an island off the Iceland coast - and abducted 250 inhabitants into slavery in Algiers. Among them was a pastor, his wife and their three children. The pastor was sent back on a failed mission to seek ransom and wrote an account of his adventures. But what happened to the islanders? Most importantly, what happened to his wife and family?
Barely a handful of facts is known about Ásta, his wife. How did she survive these terrible events? It's Ásta's space that the author has filled with her stunning novel of love and loss: she has given voice to a woman who, to all intents and purposes (like so many women in history), had none at all. Yet she was clearly remarkable. Captive in an alien Arab culture, the pastor's wife met the unravelling of her identity and beliefs and the least bearable of losses - her three children - with the one thing she brought from home: the stories in her head, like an Icelandic Scheherazade.
Intensely moving, The Sealwoman's Gift pays tribute to the fundamental power of storytelling in our lives, our ability to survive loss and tragedy and the real meaning of love.
(P)2018 John Murray Press
Broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson has written 10 books, most famously, her Sunday Times bestseller, Where Memories Go (2014) about her mother's dementia.
Half-Icelandic, half Scottish, Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition. The Sealwoman's Gift is her first novel.
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- Publication date:
08 Feb 2018
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From the first, it leaps from the page... I found myself absolutely persuaded by Ásta's extraordinary journey from the harsh Icelandic coast to the strange and splendid palaces of Algiers. I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure — Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
Icelandic history has been brought to extraordinary life. I was swept up in the story and the vivid plight of people taken away from everything they knew and understood. An accomplished and intelligent novel. — Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, author of WHY DID YOU LIE?
A compelling read...While a historical novel, it also contains contemporary resonances, particularly in the way it examines how different people integrate into a society that is completely foreign to them — Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
An astonishing novel that will stay with me for a long time...Asta Thorsteinsdottir is a truly remarkable and resourceful heroine — Angie Crawford