SELKIE DREAMS - Kristin Gleeson
This beautifully written novel is the love story of Máire, an Irish girl who travels to Alaska to escape an unwanted marriage and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Protestant Belfast. Here she meets Natsilane, an enigmatic native man who has spurned his American education and the attempts of the missionaries to ‘civilise’ him, and returned to the traditions of his people. From the moment Máire is carried ashore to her new home by Natsilane, the narrative – and the passion – soars to lyrical heights: ‘Just before the boat could go no further, a man from the group moved towards them, parting the fish that thronged the water.’
The quiet, but determined, young girl from Belfast becomes engrossed in the rhythm, sights, music and stories of the Tlingit tribes and the beautiful landscape and wildlife that surround her. The reader is carried along with her in her journey of discovery, desperately hoping that somehow, despite their cultural and religious differences, Máire and her sensual lover will find happiness.
‘The seals appeared again at the inlet, attracted by the fish that gathered in the weir. Máire was glad they’d returned and went to feed them to lure them from the weir. They came to her begging for the fish she dangled in her hand…She talked then sang and then patted their heads. She gave each one a secret name…..
Natsilane caught her at it once, but only shook his head and walked away. She was certain she saw a shadow of a smile.
In the days that followed Máire found a small pile of fish by her basket, ready for the seals.’
Kristin Gleeson leaves us with a memorable and poignant love story and a vision of a wonderful culture, unique in my experience of literature.
Selkie Dreams on amazon.co.uk