The debut novel set in 17th-century Iceland by Sunday Times best-selling 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.
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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.
Daughter of Fire and Ice
Similar part of the world. Unusual. A peep into a moment in history.
a life beyond the unimaginable: sold into slavery
Beautifully written; excellent pace; wonderful characters, sympathetically created and developed.
- Fran Brady
Iceland versus north Africa!