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The Sealwoman's Gift: the Zoe Ball book club novel of 17th century Iceland

Sally Magnusson

6 Reviews

Rated 0

Iceland, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Historical fiction, Folklore, myths & legends

Selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and BBC Radio 2 Book Club. The debut novel of abduction and slavery set in 17th century Iceland and North Africa by Sunday Times bestselling author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson.

A Zoe Ball ITV Book Club Pick

'Sally Magnusson has taken an amazing true event and created a brilliant first novel. It's an epic journey in every sense: although it's historical, it's incredibly relevant to our world today. We had to pick it' Zoe Ball Book Club

***SHORTLISTED FOR THE HWA DEBUT CROWN 2018***

'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 and energetically told.' Sunday Times - 100 Best Books to Read This Summer
'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 (a really really good book) and the ITV Zoe Ball Book Club (the quality of the writing is amazing).


'Icelandic history has been brought to extraordinary life... An accomplished and intelligent novel' Yrsa Siguroardottir, author of Why Did You Lie?

'Vivid and compelling' Adam Nichols, co-translator of
The Travels of Reverend Olafur Egilsson

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Praise for The Sealwoman's Gift: the Zoe Ball book club novel of 17th century Iceland

  • From the first, it leaps from the page... I found myself absolutely persuaded by Asta's extraordinary journey from the harsh Icelandic coast to the strange and splendid palaces of Algiers. I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure - Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT

  • Icelandic history has been brought to extraordinary life. I was swept up in the story and the vivid plight of people taken away from everything they knew and understood. An accomplished and intelligent novel. - Yrsa Siguroardottir, author of WHY DID YOU LIE?

  • A compelling read...While a historical novel, it also contains contemporary resonances, particularly in the way it examines how different people integrate into a society that is completely foreign to them - The Bookseller

  • An astonishing novel that will stay with me for a long time...Asta Thorsteinsdottir is a truly remarkable and resourceful heroine - Angie Crawford

  • From the first, it leaps from the page... I found myself absolutely persuaded by Asta's extraordinary journey from the harsh Icelandic coast to the strange and splendid palaces of Algiers. I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure - Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT

  • A remarkable feat of imagination that trasports the reader to 17th-century Iceland and Algiers ... an extraordinarily imme

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Sally Magnusson

Broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson has written 10 books, most famously, her Sunday Times bestseller, Where Memories Go (2014) about her mother's dementia.
Half-Icelandic, half Scottish, Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition. Her debut novel, The Sealwoman's Gift, was longlisted for the 2018 HWA Debut Crown.

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