The Seal Wife

The Seal Wife

by Kathryn Harrison
3.7 7


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The Seal Wife by Kathryn Harrison

For the first time in paperback, here is the bestselling novel by “a writer of extraordinary gifts” (Tobias Wolff). Stunning, hypnotic, spare, The Seal Wife tells the story of a young scientist and his consuming love for a woman known only as the Aleut, a woman who refuses to speak.

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 convention. Kathryn Harrison brilliantly re-creates the Alaskan frontier during the period of the First World War as she explores with deep understanding the interior landscape of the human psyche—a landscape eerily continuous with the splendor and terror of the frozen frontier and the storms that blow over the earth and its face.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812968453
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/13/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water. She has also written a memoir, The Kiss. Her personal essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and other publications. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children. She can be reached at

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Seal Wife 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is unlike any I have read. It is difficult to imagine the main character's challenges in that time in history. But the incredible geographic and social isolation that he confronts, coupled with a job that requires so much focus, reduces him to a being with the most minimal of expectations. In a way, this book is a study of patience and limited joy.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I imagine that any reader hoping to 'find out more about Alaska' would be dissapointed, as this was never sold as a historical or even factual text. However, knowledge of the landscape and the (scattered and soloistic) people of Anchorage in particular, is excellent. The author excellently combines the scientific workings of meteorology and the erotica of the Aleut girl, and as a result the two go hand in hand. Every woman a cloud, every cloud a tense, building metaphor ready to explode orgasmically. Far better than her earlier work. For titles that may offer more insight into the history and topography of Alaska, try...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kathryn Harrison has written the best novel of 2002 to date. In 1915 a man is sent to ALASKA to establish the first (one man) weather station in Anchorage. There he meets an Indian woman who becomes his lover and his obsession, then she disappears..... The story is rich in history, and in all things that life's about: challenge, hardship, loneliness, love, casual sex, joys of hard work, injury, fulfillment. Definitely not a 'chick book' this one's for the men, I think, more than for women. A dazzling read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kathryn Harrison, author of 'The Kiss' and 'The Binding Chair,' underscores her reputation as a writer of compelling fiction with this tale of passion and obsession on the desolate Alaskan frontier. Fred Stella provides a superior reading. 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. Harrison's recreation of an icy landscape in all its beauty and danger is spectacular. Stella's reading illuminates that world and her words.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does not live up to expectations. There are too many unanswered questions. There are some beautiful passages more poetry than prose, but overall it is too spare. I was hoping to learn more about Alaska during that era.