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

Sally Magnusson

8 Reviews

Rated 0

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

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 remarkable feat of imagination ... I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure' Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT

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 sharply witty, THE SEALWOMAN'S GIFT speaks across centuries and oceans about loss, love, resilience and redemption. SHORTLISTED FOR THE HWA DEBUT CROWN | THE BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD | THE MCKITTERICK PRIZE | THE PAUL TORDAY MEMORIAL PRIZE | THE WAVERTON GOOD READ AWARD | 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

'A powerful tale of Barbary pirates ... richly imagined and energetically told' Sunday Times
'An extraordinarily immersive read ... examining themes of motherhood, identity, exile and freedom' Guardian
'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
'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

*And Sally Magnusson's second novel, THE NINTH CHILD, publishes February 2020 - available to pre-order now*

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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

  • A remarkable feat of imagination that trasports the reader to 17th-century Iceland and Algiers ... an extraordinarily immersive read that emphasises the power of stories, examining themes of motherhood, identity, exile and freedom. Through her deft storytelling, Magnusson takes us on a journey that not only crosses continents, but encompasses tragedy and rich sensuality. - Guardian

  • An evocative, striking new novel ... which brings an Icelandic historical tragedy, and in particular, Icelandic woman Asta Egilsson, back to pulsing life. - Sunday Times

  • Moving, accomplished ... Richly imagined and energetically told, The Sealwoman's Gift is a powerful tale of loss and endurance - Sunday Times

  • Magnusson has certainly done her research, and she has found in the silences of the historical record the space for a novel that moves gracefully between what is known and what must be imagined...Much of the pleasure of reading A Sealwoman's Gift is that of a good yarn well told. - TLS

  • Fascinating ... a really, really good read - BBC Radio 2 Book Club

  • Sally Magnusson has turned this grim true story into a page-turner...beautifully told. - Radio Times

  • Sally Magnusson writes compellingly of the psychological and physical shocks of being uprooted. Impeccably researched, this is a poetic retelling of Icelandic history. - Daily Mail

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Sally Magnusson

Bestselling author, journalist and broadcaster Sally Magnusson has written several books for adults and children, most recently her Sunday Times bestseller Where Memories Go (2014) about her mother's dementia, The Sealwoman's Gift (2018), her acclaimed debut novel and The Ninth Child (2020).

Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition from her Scottish and Icelandic forebears. The Sealwoman's Gift was a Radio 2 Book Club and ITV Zoe Ball Book Club selection, and was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award, the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, the McKitterick Prize, the Waverton Good Read Award and the HWA Debut Fiction Crown.

Sally lives outside Glasgow. Loch Katrine and the surrounding area have long been a favourite haunt.

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