In 1860, Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur evolutionary scientist, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the remote Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies—mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries. He has a more personal motive, too; family legend states that Alexander is descended from seal men. As he struggles to be the good pastor he was called to be, his maid Moira faces the terrible eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.
It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together—a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home—but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past. The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford is a sweeping tale of hope and redemption and a study of how we heal ourselves by discovering our histories.
The Sea House is Elisabeth Gifford's debut book from the UK and its a wonderful debut. As my followers know I have such a heart for author's debut books and I love Historical Fiction, well I knew I had to read this. This story takes place in 1860 and 1992 about the same house in the remote island of Harris in Scotland. The story tells of a vicar/evolutionary scientist looking to uncover The Selkies legend. The Selkies are mermaids or seal people who have been seen in the North of Scotland for centuries. Alexander has his own personal stake since his family legend tells of Selkies in it.
The Sea House that Alexander Ferguson finds himself part of has many secrets that stay hidden until 1992. In 1992, Ruth and Michael but The Sea House, which is a beautiful but rundown place that they want to restore and turn into a Bed and Breakfast. As Michael restores this home, under the floorboards they make a shocking discovery, baby bones that show the legs fused together, a Selkie. Ruth feels drawn to find out who this baby was and the other secrets The Sea House holds. Ruth doesn't know how close to home this history will hit.
I love debut novels and enjoy being able to read and discover new authors. Elisabeth Gifford has written a great debut novel that takes her readers to two separate times in history and brings them together. Elisabeth Gifford writes with authority about Harris, Scotland, past and present, The Selkies Legend, Pastoring, and Evolutionary Science. I had a hard time getting into the book in the beginning, but once I got past the second chapter I was swept up into The Sea House. I enjoyed the characters and their journeys to what they were looking for. I also find myself learning so much about Scotland and The Selkies legend, something I had only heard mentioned a few times in my life. Elisabeth Gifford finds the right balance of fact and fiction to keep her readers engaged until the end. I enjoyed this book and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction. I look forward to reading more by Elisabeth Gifford. I give this book 4 STARS.
Don't miss The Sea House, a stunning fiction debut from the UK. Set in a house on the windswept coast of the Outer Hebrides, Elisabeth Gifford's haunting tale effortlessly bridges a gap of more than a century. Adeptly interweaving two tales involving residents of the titular house, Gifford sets up an absorbing mystery revolving around local lore and myths about mermaids, selkies, and sealmen. Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut (Booklist).
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