Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone

This is a wonderful novel, based on the travels of Gudrid who was the furthest travelled woman in the Viking era. The reader feels really absorbed into the story and experiences the discomforts of the travel (sleeping in damp cloaks in the boats, living through hard winters with little food) and the beauty and harshness of the natural world:


We climbed up past the caves where the giants live, right to the glacier itself. Close to, the glacier isn't the smooth white cone you see from out at sea. It's streaked with spines of larva and the snow is dusty with ash. There was cloud over the mountian, where the icedisappeared into a clammy mist that caught us in its breath as we passed. Our ponies trudged through patches of snow and picked their way among boulders through streams of meltwater. The glacier took a long time to pass. Then we climbed down by a river with may waterfalls.


Gudrin really comes alive in the narrative and I found myself really empathising with her. She's also a fascinating historical character and this novel gives insight into her role in Viking explorations of Greenland and the eastern coasts of north America, where they cut down the forests to make boats.


Susan Richardson has also written about Gudrid in a series of poems in here collection Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, which I reviewed a while back here.



The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone, published by Canongate


Creatures of the Intertidal Zone by Susan Richardson, published by Cinnamon Press

9 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sounds fascinating Juliet - have put it on my library list. Nice to be back blogging again. Thanks for your good wishes during my back problems. Love your new header.

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

It sounds really interesting. Have you read her Hy Breasil? Characters not so hot, but a tremendous sense of a place and a history and climate and culture, and it's all invented - fascinating.

Crafty Green Poet said...

HI Weaver - good to see you back, hope you're back is feeling better

Elizabeth, I've not read that one, no, I'll look out for it...

PurestGreen said...

Sounds wonderful. Canongate is on a bit of a role these last couple of years.

bazza said...

Sounds like a good read. Interesting blog you have.
By the way have they changed the rules on syllable distribution of haikus or am I just ignorant? There might be hope for me yet!
I think you might enjoy my blog 'To Discover Ice'.

Crafty Green Poet said...

bazza - thanks for visiting. Haiku in English don't necessarily follow the 5-7-5 rule as syllables in English are so different from syllables in japanese. There are lots of other aspects to haiku, you can browse some of the links listed under Haiku etc in my sidebar to find out more...

Thomma Lyn said...

This sounds like a fascinating book, and I'm going to add it to my to-be-acquired list. :)

ThoseThr3Words/Spiderette said...

Thanks for sharing this, Juliet. Will add these writers to my reading list and was so absorbed in Susan's blog, I have followed it..
Continue to enjoy your 'Unthinkable Skies'.. Domesticated really made me smile and is incredibly touching :)

Kari of Writing Up A Storm said...

Thank you for the tip on this book ~ I love to read about these kinds of journeys, the more inclement and arduous, the better!! xo Kari