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Sealskin Paperback – 15 Feb 2017

4.8 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Orenda (15 Feb. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910633607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910633601
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"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'.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded this novel at an extremely busy time, but thought 'I'll just take a quick peak...'. Before I knew it, I was enthralled by the wonderful retelling of the Selkie legend, and couldn't put it down. Su Bristow's debut novel was the first winner of the Exeter Novel Prize, back in 2013, and it's easy to see why it won. The writing is fluid, poetic and gentle; the setting is authentic and effective; and the characters are beautifully developed. Each one is flawed, each is goes through transformation during the story, and even the less obviously sympathetic ones have the reader cheering them on by the end. A great read, highly recommended.
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This novel is a retelling of the Selkie myth, in which a woman who is half seal and half human marries a mortal man. It is the story of Donald, a shy, introverted fisherman who does a terrible thing but who eventually finds a kind of redemption.

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.
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By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Feb. 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The myths and legends of our isles and islands are in the very fabric of our bones, they're in the call of the wind and in the ebb and flo of our tides. They come to us in the memories of those who have gone before us, and are as familiar as family, and yet, can also be as uncomfortable as a stranger in our midst.

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.
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Only rarely have I read a novel that affects me as deeply as Su Bristow’s Sealskin. This magical reworking of the Selkie myth examines the nature of forgiveness, and it does so with grace and beauty. As Donald struggles to recover from his own wrongdoing, we see how it isn’t only his life, but the lives of the entire community that are transformed.
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!
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Although I do have a lot of books to read, I have a soft spot for Orenda Books so I bought this on a Saturday afternoon when it was on special offer for 99p. Wow! Is this the best £1 I have ever spent, or what? I almost didn't make it out for my friend's birthday evening but I made sure that I had a clear head so I could finish off the wonderful story on Sunday.

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.
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