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Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
  

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Two parallel stories, 1992 and the 1860s, both on the island of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides and centred on the same house. It’s the classic house giving up its secrets stuff as a couple renovate a decrepit house to turn into a B and B. They find a baby in a trunk under the floor whose legs are fused with a foot on either side, rather like a flipper. This links to the local stories of selkies (mermaids) who are human above the waist and seal below. The history, the explanation of how fairy stories and myths grew up over time and the dreadful land clearance period are beautifully done in a tale difficult to put down. Good one.

If you like Elisabeth Gifford you might also like to read books by Hannah Richell, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb.

Synopsis

Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

Scotland, 1860. Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together - a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home - but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past. Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, Secrets of the Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

Reviews

Secrets of the Sea House is an arresting tale of the things that haunt us. But the real pleasure in this debut novel is Elisabeth Gifford's finely wrought prose; at turns acute, delicate and fierce -- Liza Klaussmann, author of TIGERS IN RED WEATHER Gifford moves nimbly between the centuries and voices of her intriguing tale. She is a singular and poetic writer -- Rhidian Brook, author of THE AFTERMATH Sure to ignite an interest in sea mythology partnered with real-life ground-breaking sightings and discoveries, this is the perfect read if you're heading to a British beach this summer * Red Magazine * Fans of historical fiction, folklore and Scotland will all enjoy this wonderful debut; Gifford is a writer to watch * We Love This Book * A sweeping summer read, packed with an epic tale of loss, love and hope * Irish News * This is a book that you'll remember, long after the last page has been turned * Daily Express * Anything this good deserves the largest readership possible and we readers deserve to be treated to novels like this from time to time too; symbiosis in action * Bookbag *


About the Author

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She has written articles for The Times and the Independent and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd January 2014

Author

Elisabeth Gifford

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Publisher

Corvus an imprint of Atlantic Books

Format

Paperback
336 pages

Categories

Relationship Stories
Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction

ISBN

9781782391135

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