‘The Sea House’ by Elisabeth Gifford

The Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford

A book based on a real letter to the New York Times from a nineteenth-century clergyman who claims he saw a mermaid is just too intriguing to pass up. The recommendation came from LitFuse, which always sends me wonderfully inspiring titles centered around faith, but the tone of the book synopsis stood out from the usual Christian Fiction lingo. We were set to embark on a 3 week vacation road trip and I knew I’d want a couple good novels, so I agreed to give this one a chance.

My first impressions of the book were, “mermaids, seal people, and ghosts? Going to be interesting to see where faith comes into play here!!” and “Darn it, I wish I had a British colloquial dictionary/phrase book or at least Google search in this rental car!!!” :)

The book is set in the Hebrides off of Scotland and the author is English, so there were quite a few terms that I had to figure out contextually. Thankfully, I know a “torch” is a flashlight (Narnia!), but it took half a page to deduce that “plasters” are bandages. I had to guess at what a “bothy” is and sheepishly look it up when we came back from our trip.

The language and the fantastical elements serve to make this book quite immersive. It’s not a fantasy, by any means, but Gifford paints a vivid picture of the setting and characters. It was a very quick read for me because I needed to know how things turned out for everyone. There were no dull or un-engaging sections, maybe partially because the story jumps back and forth between the 1860s and 1990s.

And the faith element, while not overt, was realistic and thought-provoking. I appreciated its subtle weaving throughout the lives of the characters. Not the Christian fiction you are used to, but give it a try!

Trigger Warning: Take caution if you are very sensitive to the themes of parent or child loss, depression/anxiety, or abuse. All are included with purpose and there is a strong overall theme of redemption that makes them worth it, but know yourself.

About the Book

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.
Purchase a copy: http://amzn.to/ZSbs53

About the Author

Elizabeth Gifford

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.
Find Elisabeth online: websiteFacebook

Celebrate with Elisabeth by entering her Kindle giveaway!

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.


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