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I must say that as idyllic as Iceland seemed, refreshing glacial rivers, colourful Puffins (to eat!), the writing was so good that I could almost feel the cold. From a female perspective, given the situation of being a slave in a warm country with good food and pleasant surroundings as compared with being a free person, freezing, damp and hungry - I would be seriously torn.
Sally Magnusson has woven an excellent work of fiction around this real-life historical incident. I attended a talk given by Sally in Pitlochry when Sally herself read from her book and remarked that it would be perfect if she did the narration herself. However, Katherine Manners did a flawless narration and did not let Sally’s book down at all. Katherines’s pronunciation of the Icelandic family names and places was so good I would not be surprised to hear she was Icelandic herself - excellent.
Even the ending, which I will not spoil, it was not what I was hoping for, but very true to life rather than fiction.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about The Sealwoman's Gift?
Such an unusual setting and era - opened a door on a part of history that we know so little about. Explored the unimaginable: what it would be like to be captured and sold into slavery. Went beyond the horror of that idea and told an absorbing tale of change, loss, hope and ultimate faithfulness.
What other book might you compare The Sealwoman's Gift to, and why?
Daughter of Fire and Ice
Similar part of the world. Unusual. A peep into a moment in history.
Which character – as performed by Katherine Manners – was your favourite?
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
a life beyond the unimaginable: sold into slavery
Any additional comments?
Beautifully written; excellent pace; wonderful characters, sympathetically created and developed.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Sealwoman's Gift again? Why?
I went right back to the beginning when it was over. Poetic writing. Heart-wrenching story where the spirit of kindness prevails. Thought provoking exploration of religion, slavery and human relationships. Historical fiction at its best.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This novel is based on a true event when, in the mid-17th century, a Turkish fleet flying under Danish flags raids the small Icelandic island community of Heimat, slaughtering many of the inhabitants but also pirating others away to be sold as slaves. The main character, Asta, is the pregnant second wife of Olafur, a much older priest. Asta gives birth to her youngest child, Jon, during the journey to Algiers. There, the family is split apart, and Asta spends nearly ten years as slave to a Muslim master. During this time, she struggles to hold on to her Christian faith and to reunite with her children and friends. She finds solace in the Icelandic sagas that she loves and also uses them to entertain her master. When Asta learns that her husband (who she had presumed was dead) has finally persuaded the Danish king to ransom the some of the captives, she faces a decision that will be devastating, no matter what choice she makes. She is forced to reassess her life, her priorities, and her values.
Although I enjoyed the novel, I felt that it got bogged down at times, especially when it broke out in romance. Magnusson certainly has done her research and gives insights into the reality of life for Muslim women in the time period: near the end, one character even observes how odd it seems that these women, who had suffered terrible fates as slaves, came home not broken but standing taller and stronger.