The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

The Sealwoman's Gift cover

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson begins in 1627 in Iceland where Moslem pirates have invaded the island, murdering many of the inhabitants and dragging 400 of them away to be sold as slaves when they reach Algiers. Asta is heavily pregnant and she has been captured along with her children and her husband who is a Christian pastor.

Life in Iceland had been incredibly hard, the people lived mainly on fish and puffins – and if they wanted eggs they had to risk life and limb climbing down steep cliffs to steal them from the birds. The summer is very short and not that warm so any crops grown would have been very sparse – if they existed at all. Everybody is poor.

So you can imagine the culture shock it must have been for them to disembark into the heat, scents and colour of Algiers. Asta was lucky to be sold into the household of a wealthy man whose number one wife had asked him to find a woman who could sew well and she was able to keep some of her young children with her to begin with. Olafur her husband is eventually allowed to leave for Denmark as he’s given the job of asking the King of Denmark for ransom money.

Nine years go past and in that time Asta can’t help seeing the advantages of Algiers where the food and way of life in general are much more comfortable than in Iceland, she can wear silk trousers as opposed to the rough homespun of Iceland and fresh water is plentiful, so the people are clean!

She isn’t free though and has no say in her life or her children’s lives, but she does have a friendship/relationship with her owner which begins when she tells him tales that she had learned in Iceland.

I loved this book, Sally Magnusson’s writing is at times beautiful and descriptive, the reader gets a great sense of the atmosphere in both Iceland and Algiers. I hope that she writes some more books.

The author must have been influenced by her father Magnus Magnusson who I remember said that he was steeped in the Icelandic sagas.

My library books

I had been doing fairly well with concentrating on reading my own books – until recently. At the moment I have quite a few out and I’m waiting for one to turn up. I need to read The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths before going on to read the one that comes after that in her Dr Ruth Galloway series which is – The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths.
Elly Griffiths

Today I just picked up The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley, I’m really looking forward to that one.
Alan Bradley

I borrowed The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott, I have an ancient hardback edition of it but the print is teeny and this new Edinburgh edition has loads of explanatory notes which I’m reliably informed are really interesting.
Sir Walter Scott

The Great War Diaries of Georgina Lee – Home Fires Burning shouted at me from a display in the library so I couldn’t leave the place without it.
Georgina Lee

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan is one that I hope will help out with getting me into the Christmas spirit.
Jenny Colgan

Sew Your Own Vintage Keepsakes by Lucinda Ganderton has a wide variety of things to make in it but it’s the pattern of the wee rag doll which interests me. I’ve always liked the look of rag dolls so I plan to get around to making one – if I have enough time.
Lucinda Ganderton

The Last one is a book that I’ve already finished. The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson. It was a great read and I hope that she writes some more books. I’ll write about it in another blogpost.
Magnusson

That lot should keep me busy although I’ll have to renew some of them as there’s no way I’ll get them all read within three weeks. But in 2019 I’m definitely concentrating on reading my own books – honest!

Have you read any of these ones?