Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Book: The Sea House

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, 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.


This is not your typical Christian fiction that I normally review.  I might consider it nominally Christian, but mostly it's just a really good book!  I love reading stories that are set in places I'm not familiar with, especially when the author does such a good job of setting the scene.  The UK English is a little hard sometimes as there are words that I'm not familiar with, but in some ways it definitely adds to the feel of the story.  I didn't even realize until reading this one that most "regency romances" set in England don't use "proper" English at all.

The Sea House jumps easily between the history of Alexander (and his maid Moira) and the present as Ruth discovers it by reading his journals. The story unfolds from these three points of view and it's fascinating to see how their stories intertwine even over 100 years apart.

This is not to say that it's a happy read, but life isn't always happy and neither was it a depressing read.  It's just a captivating story.  I highly recommend it!  (minor language warning)


Purchase your own copy or read other reviews here.

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She is the author of The House of Hope: A Story of God's Love and Provision for the Abandoned Orphans of China and has written articles for The Times and the Independent. She 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.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Elisabeth Gifford The Sea House

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