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‘A remarkable feat of imagination… I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure’ — Sarah Perry
A familiar face on TV screens across Scotland and, indeed, the UK, Sally Magnusson is a regular host of Reporting Scotland, Panorama, and Songs of Praise, and is a voice frequently heard across BBC Radio. After publishing various books of non-fiction — Where Memories Go, a memoir of caring for her mother, The Flying Scotsman, a biography of runner Eric Liddel, and The Life of Pee, a biography of urine — Sally joins us in the bookshop to celebrate her first novel, The Sealwoman’s Gift.
When Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland in 1627 and captured 400 people, including the pastor and his wife, much was recorded of the raid itself. However, almost nothing is known of what happened afterwards. In The Sealwoman’s Gift, Sally Magnusson places her reader in the mind of Astra, the pastor’s wife, who finds herself displaced from her northern home and enslaved in the Arabic world. With nothing to sustain her but the stories of her homeland, this novel stands as a remarkable testament to the powers of narrative and the way stories can help us to survive.