Author(s): Sally Magnusson
A Zoe Ball ITV Book Club Pick.
'A remarkable feat of imagination ... I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
'A powerful tale of Barbary pirates ... richly imagined.' Sunday Times
'Engrossing' Sunday Express 'Fascinating ... a really, really good read' BBC R2 Book Club
'The best sort of historical novel' Scotsman 'A lyrical tale' Stylist
'A poetic retelling of Icelandic history' Daily Mail 'Compelling stuff' Good Housekeeping
'An extraordinarily immersive read ... examining themes of motherhood, identity, exile and freedom' Guardian
1627. In a notorious historical event, pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers. Among them a pastor, his wife, and their children.
In her acclaimed debut novel Sally Magnusson imagines what history does not record: the experience of Asta, the pastor's wife, as she faces her losses with the one thing left to her - the stories from home - and forges an ambiguous bond with the man who bought her.
Uplifting, moving, and witty, The Sealwoman's Gift speaks across centuries and oceans about loss, love, resilience and redemption.
Chosen for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club and the ITV Zoe Ball Book Club.
'Icelandic history has been brought to extraordinary life... An accomplished and intelligent novel' Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, author of Why Did You Lie?
'Vivid and compelling' Adam Nichols, co-translator of The Travels of Reverend Ólafur Egilsson
~ Icelandic sagas mingle with Arabian nights in this beautifully written novel which is based on the true historical event that traumatised Iceland, when Barbary pirates raided the coast and captured over 400 people who were then sold as slaves in Algiers. Transported from the bleak, windswept Icelandic landscape to the heady and fragrant land of North Africa, we follow the story of Asta, the Reverend's wife. She is sold, along with her children, to a rich slave-master while her husband is sent back home to plead a ransom from the King. It is almost a decade later before she hears from him again. During this time she experiences gut wrenching loss, violation, what it is to be a slave woman in a Muslim world and, unexpectedly, love. The tragedy is that so many captives became torn between two worlds after so long away from home, and being separated from their children. Asta's life takes on the quality of the sagas she loves and it is stories that help her to stay sane, ease others' suffering and form powerful bonds. Readers who enjoyed The Snow Child and Burial Rites will love this novel as much as I did. Jemma