The Seas by Samantha Hunt
|The Seas by Samantha Hunt|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Nikki Edwards|
|Summary: A quirky, melancholy tale of love in a lonely seaside town.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: July 2010|
The Seas follows the story of a nameless nineteen-year old girl who is lonely and adrift in a cruel coastal town so far to the north of the USA that the roads only run south. She misses her father, an absent alcoholic sailor, while her silence-loving mother, who grew up on an isolated island with deaf parents, worries deeply about her. Early on in the story we get the distinct impression that our narrator is not deemed 'normal' by her peers, who call her all sorts of unflattering things. With nothing to do in her small town, and no one to do it with, she spends her time pining for a local alcoholic called Jude who is fifteen years her senior, and who refuses her amorous advances on the grounds that it would be wrong. As the story unfolds, Jude and the girl's relationship grows and changes, sometimes in unexpected ways.
I grew up by the sea so perhaps I was predisposed to liking this book. Much like "The Seas'" melancholy narrator, the ocean has always exerted something of a hold over me and Samantha Hunt paints a compelling picture of this little Northern seaside town where life is so hard it drives everyone either to drink or to madness. Hunt seems keen to write those indelible marks that suffering makes on people – like the loss of the narrator's father and Jude's experiences as a soldier in Iraq. She writes them very well. She is unflinching though and, while her writing is beautiful, it often makes for uncomfortable reading.
I loved the narrator's theory that she was the daughter of a merman who married a mortal and then returned to the sea. Hunt blurs reality and myth skilfully – until you wouldn't be surprised if the story ended with the narrator morphing into a mermaid and returning to her father at the bottom of the ocean. The book "is" a little overburdened with symbolism and, towards the end, my enthusiasm for it lagged a bit, but the characters are beautifully drawn and the world Hunt creates is quite haunting. As for the narrator – you are drawn into her world, into her head – and Hunt leaves it to you to decide what is real there and what is not.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Seas by Samantha Hunt at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Seas by Samantha Hunt at Amazon.com.
The Seas by Samantha Hunt is in the Orange Prize 2011.
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