Review: The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

Title: The Sea House
Author: Elisabeth Gifford
Publication Date: April 15th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250043344
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.

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 and 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.

      Elisabeth Gifford has emerged on the scene as a gifted new author who is on her way to master the art of storytelling. Not only does The Sea House possess a captivating cover, but Gifford writes with a flow so smooth and intrinsic that you'll have no choice but to resolve to wanting more.  Being a first novel, I was very impressed, and I hope to see more from Miss Gifford in the near future.

The Sea House is a haunting tale that intertwines lore and verity to where the two are no longer decipherable. Readers will enjoy the mystery and chilling nature of the premise, and become enchanted with this story. It pulled me in quickly. I love the style of writing and the smooth transitions. Not to mention, it's always exciting to read a book from a different country because the linguistics are so different and fresh compared to what I'm used to. I find myself looking up meanings to words and learning something new. Then I can go and look cool in front of my friends. Just kidding...kind of. :)

The book is a dual-time narrative that takes place on the Hebrides Islands of Scotland where the young married couple, Ruth and Michael, are renovating an old sea house. Ruth is struggling to break free free the chains of emotional damage from the past as the two try to build a home together. In the process, they discover old bones of a baby who seemed to have been born with its legs fused together...like a mermaid. Thus begins the story of Alexander Ferguson, who was a newly appointed vicar in the 1800's with a scientific background. 

There were many things I liked about this book. The tone of it was enchanting and interesting. I honestly wasn't expecting so much mystery to be weaved into the plot, but I loved every bit of it. If I had one thing to pick out that was weak, it would be the present-day characters. I liked them, but I felt more attached to Alexander and Moira than I did Ruth and Michael. However, this being the author's first novel and being a dual-narrative at that is still impressive and I applaud Gifford for a successful start.

This is definitely a great read!

E.Gifford, The Sea House Giveaway

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. Winner will be announced October 20th at Elisabeth's Blog.

Watch the trailer:

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