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Selkie Dreams

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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Belfast, 1895. Haunted by her mother's death, Máire McNair is lured by the selkie myth to the promise of the Alaskan wilds to fulfill her dream of finding acceptance. Cunning and determination get her there in the guise of teaching at the Tlingit Indian mission. But Alaska proves more complex and difficult than she imagined, and the hope that this new place would transform...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published June 7th 2012 by Knox Robinson Publishing (first published June 6th 2012)
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Jalilah
After a lot of consideration I gave this book 4 stars, but it's really more like 3 1/2. There were aspects that I absolutely loved, but the ending was a let down.
What I loved was the combination of Celtic and Tlingit (First Nations or Native American) Mythology. The leading character Máire, has been brought up to believe that her mother was a Selkie. When her widowed father attempts to marry her off to a much older business partner, Máire accepts a job teaching in an Alaskan Tlingit mission as a...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
3.5 stars actually. Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

A historical novel set in England and Alaska during Victorian times. It has Native Alaskan mythology with a bit from the British Isles woven through it.

About: Marie is a young woman who has grown up without her mum. Living with her wealthy father in England, the household’s cook tells Marie stories that lead her to believe that her mum was a selkie – a mythological creature that is seal in the ocean and human on land. It becomes a k...more
Lydia Presley
It's when I read books about the harsh clash between missionaries and those they seek to convert that I realize just how judgmental, harsh, and brutal colonialism is. Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson is one of those kind of books.

Máire, an innocent young woman of Ireland, lives with her father, their cook, and two maids. Her mother is long gone, reportedly a selkie (seal-woman) who had been trapped on land for seven years and went back to the sea shortly after Máire's death. In order to escape a...more
Cynthia Neale
The selkie myths and stories abound in Ireland and Scotland and represent seals who shed their skins to take on human form. Eventually, the selkies seek out their seal skin to return to the sea and leave their earthly loves to mourn for them. Reading this book was akin to holding a large sea shell up to one's ear and imagining the sounds of a soothing sea. The story is about a young Protestant girl, Maire, from 1880s Ireland who has grown up without her mother, whom she believes is a Selkie. Coo...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Maire was an only child whose mother died when she was a mere babe. Her father was a strict parent, but he had Cook raise Maire which was wonderful for them both. Cook had no children of her own and doted on Maire. Maire was a curious young lady and always wondered about her mother. There were tales that she had been a Selkie and needed to return to the sea...Maire overheard other stories as well. Since Maire always wondered what happened to her mother, she spent a great deal of time at the seas...more
Jean Gill
Hauntingly beautiful, a book that takes you into 19th century Alaska from the viewpoint of a reluctant young Irish missionary, who cannot accept the colonial view of the native Americans she is supposed to teach, convert and of course patronise. When Maire throws off her corsets, she is abandoning more than physical constraints, showing once again the rebellious nature that Cook told her had come from her selkie mother. Maire’s search for her mother is a thread throughout the story and her selki...more
Karen Charlton
There is nothing more wonderful on a sunny British afternoon, than relaxing in the back garden with an excellent book. And ‘Selkie Dreams’ is just that: an excellent book.

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, a...more
Itsjustme-wendy
This is a wonderful story that is beautifully written! I really felt like I was transported to first Belfast then Alaska (I have always wanted to go to Alaska! LOL). This story, although fiction felt very real to me. The history and traditions of the early Alaskan people were clearly described here. This book is both interesting and fascinating.

"It is a Deer Ceremony because deer are peaceful," Joseph said. 'After each side has agreed to the gifts to be given, they will have men pretend to be d...more
Diana Leigh
Rating: 3½ stars

I've read several books lately that have left me with mixed feelings, and SELKIE DREAMS is one of them. Overall, I thought this was a well-written story set in a unique time and place. The protagonist is Máire is a lost soul desperate to escape a bad situation in her life. She grew up in Belfast without a mother, raised instead by a cold and distant father. The family cook told her stories about her mother being a selkie, returning to the sea shortly after Máire was born. It's be...more
Knox Robinson Publishing
'I don’t know if Selkie Dreams is the first novel to combine the story of a lonely nineteenth century Belfast childhood, a Presbyterian mission in Alaska, and the life and culture of the Alaskan native people, the Tlingit, that the mission serves, but I do know that this is a beautifully calibrated and vivid and interesting historical novel about love and death in the North American wilderness, that the characters are fascinating, that the evocation of the natural world and the social customs an...more
Margaret
A truly beautiful story, a little slow and stilted to start with, but gaining in pace as the story unfolds. Once in Alaska the tale really takes wings. The portrayal of the native peoples of alaska is colouful, detailed and so interesting. The effect of over zealous Christian missionaries on native populations is extremely well drawn.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is well outlined in other comments.

C.P. Lesley
A good story, well told for the most part, with a lovely sense of cultural differences and history. The ending is a real shocker, though. Very metaphorical, I am sure, but shocking even so.
Jane Harlond
The gentle pace of this novel is in keeping with its setting and location, it also enables the reader to appreciate the underlying theme and the beauty of the prose.
Lee
A novel of subtle ambition.
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Originally from Philadelphia, Kristin Gleeson lives in Ireland, in the West Cork Gaeltacht, where she teaches art classes, plays harp, sings in an Irish choir and runs two book clubs for the village library. She holds a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a national denominational archives, library and museum in America. There she handled the l...more
More about Kristin Gleeson...
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