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Selkie Dreams [Hardcover]

Kristin Gleeson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
Price: 17.31 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012
Belfast, 1895. Haunted by her mother’s death, Máire McNair is lured by the selkie myth to the promise of the Alaskan wilds to fulfil her dream of finding acceptance.

Cunning and determination get her there in the guise of teaching at the Tlingit Indian mission. But Alaska proves more complex and difficult than she imagined, and the hope that this new place would transform her is elusive as ever.

The censorious Mrs. Paxson, the wife of the trading post manager, constantly finds fault with Máire’s efforts to instruct the native children. She has her own plans and Máire is in the way. Will Máire be able to forge her own way and make a success of her teaching? And what should she do about the handsome yet moody Lieutenant Green who is aggressively courting her?

Natsilane is the Tlingit erstwhile mission protégé. Troubled and disaffected, he finds himself battling Máire’s naive views and prejudices as he seeks to regain his own cultural identity by resuming a traditional lifestyle that draws from the Tlingit myth. But he cannot escape his past with the mission, nor can he or Máire escape the mutual attraction they feel. In a world that permits no rule breakers, will the power of myths trump all?

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190848327X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908483270
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,330,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Originally from Philadelphia, Kristin Gleeson lives in Ireland, in the West Cork Gaeltacht, where she teaches art classes, plays harp, sings in an Irish choir and runs two book clubs for the village library. She holds a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a national denominational archives, library and museum in America.

Myths and other folk tales have always fascinated her and she combined her love of these tales with her harp playing and performed as a professional harper/storyteller at events in Britain, America and Ireland.

Product Description

Amazon Review

'I don’t know if Selkie Dreams is the first novel to combine the story of a lonely nineteenth century Belfast childhood, a Presbyterian mission in Alaska, and the life and culture of the Alaskan native people, the Tlingit, that the mission serves, but I do know that this is a beautifully calibrated and vivid and interesting historical novel about love and death in the North American wilderness, that the characters are fascinating, that the evocation of the natural world and the social customs and practices of Tlingit is assured and convincing, and that the story, albeit melancholy, is unfailingly engaging. I wish it well.'
---- Carlo Gebler, author of 'The Siege of Derry'

Review

"I don't know if "Selkie Dreams" is the first novel to combine the story of a lonely nineteenth century Belfast childhood, a Presbyterian mission in Alaska, and the life and culture of the Alaskan native people, the Tlingit, that the mission serves, but I do know that this is a beautifully calibrated and vivid and interesting historical novel about love and death in the North American wilderness, that the characters are fascinating, that the evocation of the natural world and the social customs and practices of Tlingit is assured and convincing, and that the story, albeit melancholy, is unfailingly engaging. I wish it well."
--Carlo Gebler, author of "The Siege of Derry"

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, absorbing and beautiful 14 Oct 2012
By Ross
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a unique piece of historical fiction if ever there was one. I realise I'm rather paraphrasing the Amazon review but a novel that takes a young woman from a strict Presbyterian upbringing in nineteenth century Belfast to the native American culture of the Tlingit in Alaska, all while she is haunted by the legend that her, apparently deceased, mother was a selkie, one of the seal people, is something you're not likely to ever find anywhere else.

It's a testament to the author then that all of this is pulled off with aplomb. We really feel for the heroine, Maire, whose absent mother leaves a loss hanging over her. All the more so when her father tries to orchestrate a `suitable' marriage for her that we just know would crush the young woman's romantic soul. Thank God then that she takes off on such a romantic adventure to avoid all this - a voyage to Alaska, ostensibly to do mission work but really, as the reader can tell, to indulge that spirit of adventure that Maire has always had in her.

It's during the voyage that the narrative really kicks into gear. Maire meets Mrs Paxson, due to be her superior at the mission, and we can peg this woman instantly for a self-righteous and interfering busybody. Definitely one of those great love-to-hate characters. She confirms this by forcing Maire to take a more `suitable' name, Martha, and thus robbing her of her identity. The seeds are sown here for what will become a battle for Maire to live her life as she wants. She falls in love with the Tlingit culture while Mrs Paxson and the other Europeans, shouldering the white man's burden, do their best to get rid of that culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable and poignant love story 16 Aug 2012
By Susanna
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ah, there is nothing more wonderful on a sunny British afternoon, than relaxing in the back garden with an excellent book. And `Selkie Dreams' is just that: an excellent book.

This beautifully written novel is the love story of Máire, an Irish girl who travels to Alaska to escape an unwanted marriage and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Protestant Belfast. Here she meets Natsilane, an enigmatic native man who has spurned his American education and the attempts of the missionaries to `civilise' him, and returned to the traditions of his people. From the moment Máire is carried ashore to her new home by Natsilane, the narrative - and the passion - soars to lyrical heights: `Just before the boat could go no further, a man from the group moved towards them, parting the fish that thronged the water.'

The quiet, but determined, young girl from Belfast becomes engrossed in the rhythm, sights, music and stories of the Tlingit tribes and the beautiful landscape and wildlife that surround her. The reader is carried along with her in her journey of discovery, desperately hoping that somehow, despite their cultural and religious differences, Máire and her sensual lover will find happiness.

`The seals appeared again at the inlet, attracted by the fish that gathered in the weir. Máire was glad they'd returned and went to feed them to lure them from the weir. They came to her begging for the fish she dangled in her hand...She talked then sang and then patted their heads. She gave each one a secret name.....

Natsilane caught her at it once, but only shook his head and walked away. She was certain she saw a shadow of a smile.

In the days that followed Máire found a small pile of fish by her basket, ready for the seals.'

Kristin Gleeson leaves us with a memorable and poignant love story and a vision of a wonderful culture, unique in my experience of literature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Book 25 April 2013
By jlbwye
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many threads are woven into this magical book, with its touches of fantasy and haunting innocence, offset against a brash insensitivity disguised as religious zeal.
Maire, with her desire to escape life in Ireland tied to a man her father has chosen, convinces him that she is called to be a missionary in Alaska. "You cannot argue with the call of God."
Butfor Maire the call was from her mother, a true selkie whose brethren sport in the guise of seals in Alaskan seas. Women's wiles prevail, but there is one who sees through Maire's scheming.
Life as a teacher among the Tlingit people is not what Maire expects. As a start, she is obliged to answer to the distasteful missionary name of Martha. And the aloof, mysterious Natsilane holds a strange attraction, while she grapples with the attentions of William, whose naval duties call him away.
The story moves forward in genteel fashion, written in the quaint language of the time, in contrast to the colourful scenes of raw native emotions and clashes surrounding Maire.
Now and again she has one of her selkie dreams, which increase in intensity as her passion for Natsilane reaches fulfilment. Until their fates meld into one, all thoughts of clan and faith discarded.
It seems idyllic, but the end comes, sudden and surprising.
Is that it? Yes - but my mind does not rest, and matters of clan, tradition, faith and custom whirl in a maelstrom. Such is life. And death. But is Maire a selkie also?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark & brooding 23 Aug 2012
By skribla
Format:Hardcover
With dark palette Ms Gleeson skilfully paints the cloying repression of straight-laced Victorian Belfast. Here her timid heroine's only solace is the belief that her dead mother lives on in the soul of the mythical Selkie. Then we join her in her dream of fulfillment and daring search for happiness among the magnificent Alaskan wilderness, where the Selkie myth draws her to its astounding conclusion.
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