The Seal Wife

The Seal Wife A stunning and hypnotic novel The Seal Wife tells the story of a young scientist and his consuming love for a woman known as Aleut In Bigelow is sent to establish a weather observatory in Ancho
  • Title: The Seal Wife
  • Author: Kathryn Harrison
  • ISBN: 9781841157801
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Seal Wife
    A stunning and hypnotic novel, The Seal Wife tells the story of a young scientist and his consuming love for a woman known as Aleut In 1915, Bigelow is sent to establish a weather observatory in Anchorage, Alaska, and finds that nothing has prepared him for the loneliness of a railroad town of over two thousand men and only a handful of women, of winter nights twenty hourA stunning and hypnotic novel, The Seal Wife tells the story of a young scientist and his consuming love for a woman known as Aleut In 1915, Bigelow is sent to establish a weather observatory in Anchorage, Alaska, and finds that nothing has prepared him for the loneliness of a railroad town of over two thousand men and only a handful of women, of winter nights twenty hours long And nothing can protect him from obsession both with a woman, who seems in her silence and mystery to possess the power to destroy his life forever, and with the weather kite he designs to fly higher than any kite has ever flown before, a kite with which Bigelow plans to penetrate and know not just the sky but the heavens.A novel of passions both dangerous and generative, The Seal Wife explores the nature of desire and its ability to propel an individual beyond himself and outside conventions Harrison brilliantly re creates the Alaskan frontier during the period of the first World War and in lyrical prose explores the interior landscape of the psyche and human emotions a landscape eerily continuous with the splendor and terror of the frozen frontier, the storms that blow over the earth and its face.
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    About " Kathryn Harrison "

  • Kathryn Harrison

    Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels Envy, The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water She has also written memoirs, The Kiss and The Mother Knot, a travel memoir, The Road To Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese Of Lisieux, and a collection of personal essays, Seeking Rapture Ms Harrison is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review her essays, which have been included in many anthologies, have appeared in The New yorker, Harper s Magazine, Vogue, O Magazine, Salon, and other publications She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children.

  • 844 Comments

  • Alaska It seems I ve read a few books recently to do with this frozen and dramatic country see my glowing review for No Night is Too Long The Seal Wife is set in frontier Alaska, and follows the story of a young meteorologist and his lovestruck obsession with a native woman in a time and place where women are truly scarce But reading this was like going to one of those fancy, spare restaurants you know you re supposed to be impressed by, but frankly just leave you hungry and a bit grossed out at [...]


  • I came across this book completely by accident the title caught my eye when I was sitting in the library I picked it up and read the whole thing in an afternoon It s a mesmerizing, atmospheric story of obsession set in the Alaskan frontier The setting drew me in right away, as did Bigelow s obsession with a woman who refuses to speak, then mysteriously disappears Harrison captures Bigelow s longing so perfectly it made me ache right along with him as I turned the pages I ll definitely be reading [...]


  • The author of The Kiss, her memoir addressing her viewpoint on her voluntary role in a romantic, sexual relationship with her father, Kathryn Harrison is equally shocking in The Seal Wife Of course, knowing this is fiction, it is a little different I will admit to having to deter myself from being influenced in a discriminating way by the incest she engaged herself in.Not surprisingly, then There is a feminist view here More specifically, the men are all portrayed rather negatively, through ster [...]


  • Rating 4 1 2 This very unusual novel is the story of Bigelow, a young mid western man who is sent to Anchorage, Alaska in 1915 to establish a weather station He arrives without the barest necessities or knowledge of what is expected of him, thinking that there is an established station, and when he realizes the situation he has to find the land to put the station on, arrange and pay for the construction at horribly inflated prices and in a place where most of the supplies he requires don t exist [...]



  • As the mother of three small children, I have to snatch my reading moments, and quite often I can only read three or so pages at a time This book is kind of perfect for this style of reading, as nothing much happens but it is so beautifully written that each page is a pleasure Essentially it is a book about sexual obsession and loneliness, I think Bigelowe is a very young man who works as a meteorologist in Alaska during the period of WWI in Europe At the time, Alaska is a wild frontier, a bit l [...]


  • Just finished reading Kathryn Harrison s The Seal Wife, and still trying to make head or tails of it Unquestionably, the novel is beautifully written, reminiscent of the grotesque beauty of Spanish magical realism lots of gorgeous detail on not so gorgeous items, including the smells of groins and feet and erections, and the oddly shaped gaps and bodies of lovers Somehow, though, despite this admirable and beautifully gritty feat, Harrison s spare, lean narrative of a scientist obsessed with bot [...]


  • This is one of those books that I m glad I can review other reader s impressions of and they certainly run the gamut It s a book that on face value seems to be what Bookmaniac noted Nothing interesting happens during the whole story But then Maggie Nicole kick it up a notch Maggie posts Two of the major themes of this book are sound and silence Music is both a succor and means by which the weather station gets built The women in the book are either silent, and their means of and reasons for sile [...]


  • Synopsys It is 1915 when Bigelow, a young scientist, is dispatched to build a weather observatory in Anchorage He is optimistic and enthusiastic, little realizing what life will be like in an arctic railroad town peopled by men and precious few women The nights are endless and lonely.Before long he is held sway by a seemingly unknowable woman, Aleut She is not his only obsession he designs a kite intended to fly higher than any kite has ever flown I wasn t impressed by this book The writer was a [...]


  • I picked this up in a charity shop knowing nothing about the author but attracted by the innuit woman on the cover Neither the innuit woman nor her photographer are credited which about sums up the position of the women in the book It did call to mind another woman writer of arctic adventures Andrea Barrett and there is some connection there in the viewpoint of a man s point of view but written by a woman I found this less satisfying, a tale spun out to a novel s length, some disquiet as though [...]


  • The Seal Wife is one of the most beautiful books I ve ever read I just finished it and I wish there was to read It s a rather minimalist book with short chapters and sparse dialogue It uses vignettes to pull the story along As the book is mostly from inside Bigelow s mind, a self defined loner who is in Anchorage to forecast and study the weather, the book s minimalism beautifully captures the experience of being alone among others, an observer given time to absorb the surroundings and think ab [...]


  • The Seal Wife Kathryn HarrisonFourth Estate FictionKathryn Harrison s latest novel is set in Anchorage, Alaska The year is 1915 Bigelow, product of an emotionally starved upbringing, has been ordered by the Weather Bureau for whom he works, to open up for them in Alaska He must set up a weather forecasting station in the frozen frontier town of Anchorage, a town with it s feet still in the mud, without a port, with only a handful of women and over 3,000 men.Industrious and intent, Bigelow sets a [...]



  • The Seal Wife is one of those books that seems to have potential and then 60 pages in, you re wondering why you re still reading it The premise is that a young man, Bigelow, is sent up to 1915 era Alaska to set up a weather station He randomly takes up with a non communicative native Aleut woman who soon after, leaves without a trace Aside from the sometimes lovely prose about sounds or the absence of sound, there is nothing I found to like about this story The background and development of Bige [...]


  • Amazing.Get a glimpse of Alaska circa 1914 when the railroad is on the brink of existence, which forces white people unto the lives of Natives, as one white character says.The idea of silenced women appears throughout Harrison s work Here, in two ways.Like Envy, the narrator is omniscient but the story feels like it belongs to the protagonist, Bigelow, a weather man of ancient proportions um, he s no suit wearin, smile flashin Sam Champion.Interesting parallels and twists And sex.


  • Very much enjoyed Sparse but powerful writing made the book flow very nicely The main characters powerful longing for a woman who could not express herself well was a theme worth reading about.


  • The title is luring, but the overall content of the story is the type that you will either love or hate I say that, but only from sheer desire to have material to write on my blog as I reviewed this book and because I paid money for it I readimmed in its entirety It takes place in the early part of the 20th century The theme is the classic demure of Love Obsession.One thing I think Harrison did well in her novel was her depiction of the protagonist s obsession for the aleut woman Watching him se [...]


  • Bigelow moves to Anchorage to man the weather station It s a stark barren winter land, in complete contrast to his comfortable upbringing Forced to make the most of the situation, he becomes infatuated with a local Aleut woman who allows him into her home in exchange for meagre offerings of food disposable goods The arrangement continues until one day she disappears, forcing Bigelow to seek sexual pleasures elsewhere A beautifully descriptive look at the way in which human beings behave when fac [...]


  • A man, that s all he is, the outline of his psyche likethat of his cock, one minute all puffed up hard, bellicose, the next spent andshrivelled I enjoyed this evocative book about a shy young man s attempts at weather forecasting and love in the Arctic, circa 1915.



  • A lovely book about obsession and the weakness of man The main character of Bigelow will have you shouting with frustration and in the next breath sympathising with his failure.



  • Review published in the New Zealand Herald, 26 October 2002The Seal WifeKathryn Harrison Fourth Estate, 31.95 reviewed by Philippa JamiesonAmerican author Kathryn Harrison has received acclaim for her writing, including four novels and a memoir Her latest novel, set in Alaska in 1915, is seen through the eyes of Bigelow, a scientist sent to Anchorage to observe and record the weather Harrison has written a taut study of sexual obsession Bigelow becomes fascinated by an Aleut woman, follows her h [...]


  • At first, Bigelow s story is mesmerizing, hypnotic Then, it is impatient, then tedious, like a winter life without conversation I ll have to think about this one for a while before I know what to say about it.I ve sat on this one for 2 days, trying to decide what to think about The Seal Wife Here s what I love What an interesting and unique topic Weather prediction science in Alaska on the cusp of World War One Growing boomtowns, the slow sprawl of the railroads The descriptions, the feel Harris [...]


  • I m sure Harrison is a fine writer and it s unfortunate I had to pick this book as the first one by her to read I ll try another soon This is the sort of book, an accomplished, known writer gets to do It feels like a study in mute character development I snatched it up because I m a consummate Alaska phile But this book had to do with technical meteorology of 1915 It couldn t keep my interest As some reviewers have noted, nothing happens That is not a good enough reason for me to skip a book Bu [...]


  • I give it three and a half stars Kathryn Harrison is a great writer and I have read most of her novels and some of her non fiction She is very good at creating characters from various times throughout history In this book her story is set in Alaska in the time right before WWI The main character Bigelow comes north to track the weather for the U.S government While there he falls obsessively for a woman who does not speak who he calls the Aleut Harrison s writing style was very spare in this book [...]


  • Huh I m not sure what I thought, honestly There were elements of the book that caught me and drew me in, but on the whole I dragged myself through it The writing isn t bad, and occasionally flirts with good But at the end of the day I m not really sure what we spent 225 pages doing I m fine with a plot light, character heavy book, but there wasn t much character to go on Bigelow is aimless and stumbling in early 20th century Alaska before he begins an unorthodox and obsessive relationship with a [...]


  • I don t really know whether I liked this or not It reminded me a lot of Rivka Galchen s Atmospheric Disturbances, which I guess is a stupid connection based only on the weather theme I thought parts were brilliant for example, the interaction between the main character and the prostitute who offers him a prop perfectly tailored to his sexual needs, only to have him feel disgruntled that she has demeaned him by identifying his run of the mill fetish All the concrete details about early Anchorage [...]


  • Also, I tried to hide, the way I might ve if I d been reading Danielle Steele standing up in the library, although this book is by no means Danielle Steele, not even close Read it, though, and you ll see what I mean You ll be a little bit ashamed of liking it as much as you do It s stark, beautiful, literary smut UM, P.S The title is THE SEAL WIFE and I m not sure why GoodReads insists on calling it SEAL WIFE POSTER but the only other option was SEAL WIFE DUMPBIN and I don t know what a dumpbin [...]


  • I don t even know any with this book I m trying to see through and beyond the fact that the protagonist keeps being attracted to and building relationships with women who cannot speak I expected this to be a spin on the Inuit folk tale of the seal wife but it isn t, at least in any way I can see And I have thought about it in allegorical metaphorical blah blah terms to no good I hope the last part of the book explains something because I m part confused and part looking forward to finishing it a [...]


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