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Sealskin Paperback – 15 Feb 2017
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"Bristow has drawn a portrait of the unforgiving life of fishermen and the women who rely on their care, while tenderly and carefully portraying a terrible physical and psychological violation and its years-long reverberations. The writing is sorrowful and lovely, with a well-earned, satisfying conclusion." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She's the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written withpsychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes 'Troll Steps' (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and 'Changes' which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Sealskin is set in the Hebrides, and it's a reworking of the Scottish and Nordic legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writinghas been described as 'magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey'.
Top Customer Reviews
Donald is a complex character, well-meaning and basically decent, but also troubled and something of an outsider in his own community. The reader goes with Donald on a moral journey which sees him change and grow, eventually becoming the good husband and father he was always meant to be. But the old gods always punish mortals for their misdeeds, and Donald has to suffer for his sins. This strand of the story gives the novel depth, and invites us to sympathise with Donald.
The Scottish setting is vividly realised. The author took me there, making me feel the wind on my face and the soft sand between my toes. The consistent charm of the writing is one of the many great things about this story, which is a worthy winner of the first Exeter Novel Prize. I am looking forward to finding out what this author does next.
Sealskin is a story that starts with a great wrong. A wrong so wrong that it may never be put right, but it's also about the power of love, the inherent need for forgiveness and the genetic call of the wild, which lives in all of us.
The writing is wonderfully lyrical with words that have magic and meaning and yet, there is also the irresistible simplicity of silence when everything is conveyed by a look and or a glance and in the soft touch of hands which say ‘I remember’ far more eloquently than any words. Sealskin shows us that love, in its many guises, can bring us together or it can tear us apart. It can be the most glorious feeling in the world or it can devastate us so much that we become as jagged as a stone.
In many ways Sealskin acts a salutary warning, which leaves us in no doubt that, for all of our actions, be they good or bad, there is always a price to be paid, and reminds us that, so often, after great happiness comes great hurt. And yet, for all of its inherent sadness, there is also celebration and, ultimately, Sealskin is a glorious love story to the myth and legend of our shared heritage.
There is no doubt that the literary magic lingers long after the last beautifully written word is ended.
Yes, I was bewitched by the exquisite prose and the finely described sense of place, but it was the understanding of human nature and how we deal with shocks, violence, and hatred that I found so profound. I feel almost tearful just thinking about it now, but don’t get me wrong, as with the best stories, they are tears that I’m happy to shed.
This is a very special book, unputdownable and unforgettable. Wow!
Donald is a lucky man - one night he sees something that people have only dreamed about, but his thoughtless actions break the magic and he finds himself, and his family, living with the consequences. Donald's mother, Bridie, is well respected in the village and people come to her for potions and help with delivering babies. When Donald brings Mairhie home, Bridie takes her under her wing and teaches her everything that she knows, plus Mairhie has a little magic of her own. The villagers are naturally suspicious of Mairhie, but gradually they warm to her as she endears herself to them, however, the sea starts to call... Will Mairhie listen or will she accept the life she has been given on land? She doesn't have a choice while her sealskin remains lost...but does somebody hold the key to its whereabouts?
Sealskin is perhaps the most beautiful book I have read in a long time. I was captured in its net from chapter 1 and only released when I had turned the final breathtaking page. Su Bristow has such lyrical writing that I felt as if I was in the book myself, standing at the door of the cottage or watching the fishing boats coming back to shore. I had serious difficulty in putting the book down and, had I not been going out, would have read Sealskin in one sitting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Utterly wonderful. Whether we like it or not, there is good and bad in all of us. And no one could have done worse to a woman than Donald did. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Lu Preston
Wonderful story, despite one of the characters not uttering a word throughout the story, her emotion was real and raw and I felt such empathy with her. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Lisbeth Foye
Lyrical and grace-filled, this beautiful story sang deep into my heart .. I live it still .. Sealskin is a healing read, a heartrending joy. I've handed it on in love to many.Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
Based on the selkie myths, this is a wonderfully original debut novel. An extraordinary tale with dark undercurrents, it’s about the power of love, magic, forgiveness and... Read morePublished 28 days ago by CathyR
Exquisite. An enchanting look at love, life and loss that captivates the reader. The book explores the lives of those marginalised by society through a legend. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ian Patrick
Lovely tale of community, overcoming adversity and predudice. Some good moral themes of family and friends, but doesn't shy away from difficult subject matter.Published 1 month ago by James Purslow
I read the reviews before I bought this book, so sort of knew what to expect. I have to admit to feeling uncomfortable with the actions of the main character Donald at the start of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Chanatkins
Don't read without a hankie.
Why fifteen more words required. I don't have anymore words that I can add to it.