Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Sealwoman’s Gift, by Sally Magnusson

From The Scotsman:

Sally Magnusson’s wonderfully accomplished first novel is an enthralling mixture of recovered history and the imagining of lost lives. It’s a delightful piece of storytelling which is also a story about telling stories.

In 1627 pirates from Algiers raided the coast of Iceland and carried off 400 people – men, women and children – two-thirds of them from a small island. The captives included the island’s Lutheran minister, Olafur, his pregnant wife Asta and their two small children. All were destined for the slave market in Algiers. 

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In short, this is the best sort of historical novel. It respects the past and brings it alive. It is alert to ethical and cultural differences. It shows that people in the past often thought differently from us and held to different beliefs, while at the same time it reminds us that they experienced the same emotions.

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