Below, you will find announcements for various pieces of news that we think readers interested in the 1627 raid on Iceland might find of interest.
A novel has just been published that we reckon should not be missed by readers interested in the events of the 1627 corsair raid on Iceland.
Reverend Ólafur’s narrative and the various letters tell in considerable detail the story of the corsair raid and its aftermath, both in Iceland and North Africa. Everything that was written, however, was written by men. Nowhere is there anything written about the experiences of women.
This is what drew Sally Magnasson, a U.K. broadcaster and journalist of mixed Icelandic and Scottish descent, to write her new novel. As she puts it:
“As a half-Icelander I’ve known for ages about the raid by Algerian corsairs in 1627. It remains one of the most traumatic events in Iceland’s history. But there has never been much known about what happened to the women and children. So I wondered… what might it have been like for a woman to be lifted violently out of her isolated culture and find herself experiencing not just the separations and agonies of captivity, but the reassessments that come in any age when intelligent eyes are opened to other lives, other cultures and other kinds of loving?”
The Sealwoman’s Gift tells the story of Ásta, Reverend Ólafur’s young wife, who was pregnant when she was captured, gave birth on the voyage to Algiers, and endured a decade of servitude in Algiers before eventually being ransomed and returning to Iceland and her husband. In relating Ásta’s story, Magnasson manages a neat feat of juggling. She has done her homework, and her evocation of seventeenth century Iceland and Algiers is historically accurate, but she never allows the historical dimension to overwhelm the story. Instead, as she traces the events of Ásta’s life, she weaves a compelling narrative of suffering, loss, and eventual redemption.
An altogether wonderful book. Accurate historical background, a strong story, a gripping read. We recommend it whole heartedly.
You can access Sally Magnusson’s website and find out more about the book at the link below: