This book takes place in two time periods, the 1860s and the 1990s, in Scotland. Since one of my favorite book series involves Scotland in two time periods, I felt like I should have liked this book.
Ruth and Michael buy an old house on the coast and make a startling discovery underneath it during renovations. But the spirit haunting Ruth has nothing to do with the tiny skeleton, but stems from her own tumultuous childhood.
Once I got past the first several chapters, I could get into the story and was interested to find out what happened with the priest of the 1800s from his journals and letters, provided to Ruth by the current vicar on the island.
The priest's maid was my favorite character in the book. She survives horrific loss, and unlike Ruth, becomes strong and determined in it's wake. After the priest deserts her, she goes on to make something of herself as a school teacher. I'm glad she got the two things she wanted in the end.
There is evolutionary content in this story, and the priest has a sort of hero worship for Darwin, which I didn't care for. Also, in the beginning of the story, the main character kills and dissects a lizard, postulating that we all have a lizard (or very primitive) brain within us.
The end of the story is a bit ambiguous, and I found myself flipping back through the whole book, searching for the last name of Matthew and Fanny. Once I started paying attention to last names, I realized that Ruth's maiden name was her uncle's last name. Did Ruth's mother give Ruth her father's last name even though they weren't married? Or was Ruth's mum another of many Macleods on the island? I guess we'll never know. I felt like the author could have wrapped it up with a bow, if she'd linked Ruth and the laird of the past through Anna.
Don't miss The Sea House, a stunning fiction debut from the UK. Set in a house on the windswept coast of the Outer Hebrides, Elisabeth Gifford's haunting tale effortlessly bridges a gap of more than a century. Adeptly interweaving two tales involving residents of the titular house, Gifford sets up an absorbing mystery revolving around local lore and myths about mermaids, selkies, and sealmen. Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut (Booklist).
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