From the author of the bestselling THE BINDING CHAIR comes an extraordinary tale of desire set in the snowfields of 1917 Alaska. Bigelow is a scientist, meticulous and obsessive, a man of tightly coiled passion. Stationed in the tiny frontier town of Anchorage, Alaska in 1915, he builds a weather observatory, a kite big enough to penetrate the ...
From the author of the bestselling THE BINDING CHAIR comes an extraordinary tale of desire set in the snowfields of 1917 Alaska. Bigelow is a scientist, meticulous and obsessive, a man of tightly coiled passion. Stationed in the tiny frontier town of Anchorage, Alaska in 1915, he builds a weather observatory, a kite big enough to penetrate the heavens, carrying instruments to track the great storms that scour the land. He is distracted from his labours when he meets a native Aleut woman, a stitcher of furs, whose muteness calls up in him an almost unbearable longing. Her ferocious self-containment begins to seem to him more and more animal -- and yet the more her silence pushes him away he burns to possess her. And when she disappears, he begins to believe he'll die if he never sees her again...An incendiary tale set against the sear and haunting landscape of the Great North, THE SEAL WIFE merges the enchantment of myth with a taut and chilling story of erotic compulsion.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-02-25 Obsessions are Harrison's forte (The Binding Chair, etc.) and here she plumbs the mind of a young man deprived of companions, diversions and even the basic amenities of civilization who develops a passion for a woman whose very remoteness feeds his desire. In 1915, 26-year-old Bigelow Greene is sent to establish a U.S. weather station in Anchorage, a primitive settlement where the sled dogs howl all night in the 20-hour-long winter darkness. Bigelow is asingle-minded man; he first becomes obsessed with the idea of building a huge kite to measure air temperature high in the atmosphere and thus enable long-range forecasting. But he's soon smitten with a woman the locals call the Aleut. She's mysterious, enigmatic, virtually mute sex between she and Bigelow is wordless and when he discovers that she's left Anchorage, Bigelow almost goes mad with longing. Eventually, he succumbs to the lure of another woman, Miriam Getz, the daughter of the storekeeper. She, too, is mute by choice, and she proves to be a demon, the very opposite of the self-contained Aleut. Bigelow is caught in her trap. As Harrison describes the black loneliness of winter and the mosquito-infested summer days, the mood grows darker and more suspenseful, emblematic of Bigelow's desolate psyche. In perfect control of the spare narrative, Harrison writes mesmerizing, cinematically vivid scenes: Native American laborers fascinated by Caruso recordings; the gigantic kite nearly dragging Bigelow to his death off a cliff and, later, soaring into the turbulent sky of a rousing storm. Given these ominous events, and for those who know the Celtic legend of the seal wife, the ending is all the more surprising. Author tour. (May) Forecast: Harrison's excellently assimilated research about the early days of weather forecasting and about the conditions in Alaska during WWI add credibility to a novel about the inner landscape of desire. This double appeal should spark good sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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