Selkies or Sealkies or Silkies are capable of leaving their seal skins behind and walking on earth as women or men. They often live with or marry humans, and have children who are both human and not. The women are beautiful, the men have enormous organs, and both female and male have almost insatiable sexual appetites.
Maybe I'm a prude, maybe I'm squeamish, but I don't recommend this book.
Why do so many Canadian women writers feel compelled to chronicle dreary subjects? Abuse of women and children, drunkenness and poverty are depressing enough when confronted with them daily in the news media and yet this seems to be an all-pervasive presence in modern Canadian fiction by women.
Besides the maudlin theme, Anne Cameron's Selkie is poorly structured, featuring disorienting lack of continuity, sudden flashbacks, unexplained occurrences such as warm rain pouring through the ceiling of a house, and not until close to the end of the tale does she introduce a selkie. This disjointedness, hopping around from sordid reality to wildest fantasy, from past to the present and then a leap into the future, creates a story that just doesn't work for me.
Perhaps I am biased. Having just finished Susan Howatch's masterful series, six Church of England novels, I found the contrast in writing ability between Howatch and Cameron phenomenal. Although the advertisement at the end of Selkie states that "Anne Cameron's novels and short stories have won her a devoted following," I would not be among them.
Joan Payzant is a retired teacher and teacher/librarian, living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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