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The Sea House: Book summary and reviews of The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

The Sea House

by Elisabeth Gifford

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford X
The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
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Book Summary

In 1860, Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur evolutionary scientist, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the remote Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies - mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries. He has a more personal motive, too; family legend states that Alexander is descended from seal men. As he struggles to be the good pastor he was called to be, his maid Moira faces the terrible eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.

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? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home - but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past. The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford is a sweeping tale of hope and redemption and a study of how we heal ourselves by discovering our histories.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Gifford has an ability to bring depth to her characters, whether they live in the 19th century or the 20th, and this helps hold together her sweeping tale." - Publishers Weekly

"Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut." - Booklist

"Gifford deftly manages the disparate plot elements, bringing them to a satisfying conclusion. Ruth's abusive childhood is linked to historical injustices so it provides much to consider for book clubs and sophisticated teens" - Library Journal

This information about The Sea House was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Elisabeth Gifford

Elisabeth Gifford 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. The Sea House is her debut novel. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames, a suburb of London, but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

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