Thursday, 31 October 2013

Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

Old houses in remote places always have a tale to tell in fiction and it is no different with Secrets of the Sea House, Elisabeth Gifford’s debut novel.

When Ruth and her husband Michael take on an old Presbyterian manse on the Scottish island of Harris, they plan to turn it into a B and B. Renovations turn up a grim discovery – the tiny body of a baby buried over a century before, with its legs joined together like a mermaid child. Ruth has had to put behind her a terrible childhood involving foster care and children’s homes, but with her inquiring mind is determined to find out what happened at the manse many years ago.

The story turns back to 1860, when the manse was occupied by the handsome Reverend Alexander Ferguson. He has a fascination with the ideas of Darwin and reported sightings of mermaids. Can there be a link between man and a more aquatic species?

While Alexander is lost in his books, small holders are being cleared from the island to make way for sheep. Young Moira has seen her family perish because of this heartless policy. For each character, their time at the Sea House will change their life for ever.

This is a terrific first novel, with its dramatic setting, troubled characters and a thought provoking blend of history, science and folklore.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: Secrets of the Sea House

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