The Seas by Samantha Hunt

DATE FINISHED: March 24th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: The unnamed narrator believes she is a mermaid.  She is also in love with war-damaged Jude who holds himself apart from her.  According to legend, the mortal who will not marry a mermaid will be killed.  She does not want to kill Jude, but words have a way of winning…

THOUGHTS: After the dreariness of ‘The Little Stranger’ the lyrical language of ‘The Seas’ was a blessed relief.  The rhythm of the prose lilts like the sea, and there is some wonderful imagery throughout.  Is the narrator really a mermaid or does she just feel the absence of her father?  Will her grandfather ever complete his painstakingly typeset dictionary?  Will Jude ever succumb to her ‘charms’?  This book is so beautifully written that the answers are almost immaterial, but so long as you are willing to suspend belief, this is a fable to savour.  A welcome break from the vapid prose of the mainstream.

FOLLOWING ON: ‘Daughter of the Sea’ by Berlie Doherty is the closest match by theme, but ‘Pobby and Dingan’ by Ben Rice blurs the line between the real and the imaginary in a similar fashion.  ‘Skellig’ by David Almond, too.  ‘Lighthousekeeping’ by Jeanette Winterson and ‘The Boy and the Sea’ by Kirsty Gunn share echoes of a love affair with the ocean, and along with ‘A True Story Based on Lies’ by Jennifer Clement have a similarly poetic style.


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