Secrets of the Sea House Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobooks, Unabridged
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Scotland, 1860. Reverend Alexander Ferguson takes up his new parish, an isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time there will change his life, but the Sea House, on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. More than a century later, Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building for the family they hope to have. But their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 12 minutes|
|Narrator||Cathleen McCarron, Douglas Russell, Sarah Barron|
|Audible.co.uk Release Date||03 April 2014|
|Publisher||W. F. Howes Ltd|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 51,184 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
617 in World Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
1,247 in Family Life Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
4,080 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from United Kingdom
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In the present day, Ruth and Michael have bought an old Vicarage with the intention of completely renovating it. They have overreached themselves financially, and it doesn't help that the skeleton of a child has just been found beneath one of the rooms, creating a hold up while the police investigate. Distracted from her work, Ruth sets about investigating the history of those who had lived in the house before them, particularly a Victorian clergyman who appeared to be completely obsessed with selkies.
The story is told from three points of view: Ruth, the Rev Alexander Ferguson, and Moira his maid. Ruth is not immediately likeable, but that's due to her past history. I found Alexander's narrative a bit hard going at first, as I've never been keen on stories written in that old style of English, even if it is historically accurate. Moira's story seemed a little bit repetitive, but in the end she became my favourite character.
So at first this story was heading for a solid four stars, but then I became swept up with the characters and their lives, particularly the Victorian timeline and Alexander's tales of mermaids and selkies. I'm English, so I don't know much about Scottish myths and legends, but I found this aspect of the story particularly fascinating. I also enjoyed Alexander's journey from a kind-hearted, slightly naive vicar to - ah, well that would be a spoiler!
Anyway, this one is definitely going on my list of favourite reads and I've already downloaded another book by the same author. Recommended!
For me, there was a strange, nebulous quality about the whole thing, as if looking through misted glass. There were holes in the plot, and many characters lacked clarity. A pity. I love the Hebrides and the selkie mythology, but this book's shortcomings prevented me from really engaging with it.
Often I find that a novel with dual-time narratives, set a long time apart, suffers because one story - typically, the older one - is much more compelling than the other. But this is not the case here.
The contemporary story is about Ruth, a young mother-to-be who is burdenned by the apparent suicide of her mother and by shadowy memories of the children’s home she was brought up in. A strange baby corpse is found buried beneath Ruth and her gentle husband’s house in Harris, which begins to prey on Ruth’s fragile mind. But this is not a horror story. It is about excavating the literal and psychological past in order to free the present.
I loved the cleverly linked nineteenth century narrative about a good but hopelessly naive clergyman and the two young women who fall in love with him on rugged and remote Harris. There are brilliant short passages about the hardship of crofting life and fascinating, practical insights, as when the prospective visit of the laird’s daughter fills the poor servant girl Moira with consternation, worrying about ‘Maggie Kintail’s chickens, which like to live under the bench near the fire ... not to mention the ram that ... still tries to get in through the back door.’
Disappointingly, after the opening chapters, the rugged, stark landscape of Harris features only a few times.
What can I say, within the first few pages I was left completely cold. The prose was perfunctory, it felt laboured, as though the author struggled with every word. In short, it read like an instruction manual, functional, simplistic and just, cold.
Try as I might, I couldn’t make it much beyond the first 3 chapters. The characters just seemed flat and 2 dimensional.
Anyone hoping, as I was, for a flowery historical time slip in the vein of Kate Morton, or the successor to the suspicions of mr whicher, will likely be disappointed.
It is a well written book and I enjoyed the descriptive passages, but the only characters I cared about played a fairly minor part in the book, those who were affected by the clearances.
As I went on through the book the mystery and the mythology were explained away and the whole book took on a different meaning based much more on reality which was a bit disappointing.
It did have a conclusive ending, I do hate books that have open endings, but I did feel the ending was overlong and drawn out.