The Mermaid's Daughter: A Novel

The Mermaid's Daughter: A Novel

by Ann Claycomb

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Overview

A modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, this unforgettable debut novel weaves a spellbinding tale of magic and the power of love as a descendent of the original mermaid fights the terrible price of saving herself from a curse that has affected generations of women in her family.

Kathleen has always been dramatic. She suffers from the bizarre malady of experiencing stabbing pain in her feet. On her sixteenth birthday, she woke screaming from the sensation that her tongue had been cut out. No doctor can find a medical explanation for her pain, and even the most powerful drugs have proven useless. Only the touch of seawater can ease her pain, and just temporarily at that.

Now Kathleen is a twenty-five-year-old opera student in Boston and shows immense promise as a soprano. Her girlfriend Harry, a mezzo in the same program, worries endlessly about Kathleen's phantom pain and obsession with the sea. Kathleen's mother and grandmother both committed suicide as young women, and Harry worries they suffered from the same symptoms. When Kathleen suffers yet another dangerous breakdown, Harry convinces Kathleen to visit her hometown in Ireland to learn more about her family history.

In Ireland, they discover that the mystery—and the tragedy—of Kathleen’s family history is far older and stranger than they could have imagined.  Kathleen’s fate seems sealed, and the only way out is a terrible choice between a mermaid’s two sirens—the sea, and her lover. But both choices mean death… 

Haunting and lyrical, The Mermaid’s Daughter asks—how far we will go for those we love? And can the transformative power of music overcome a magic that has prevailed for generations?

 

 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

01/30/2017
The tale of the Little Mermaid may be well-known, but don’t look for the Disneyfied version in Claycomb’s fine debut. Here, the story swirls around Kathleen Conarn, a young student learning opera at conservatory. She’s not just any music student, but an amazing soprano from a family of musical talents (her Irish-born father, Robin, is a famous composer). Kathleen has always experienced extreme pain piercing the bottom of her feet and, strangely, the only thing that temporarily soothes her is seawater. She feels a strong connection to the sea, though her mother drowned herself in Ireland when Kathleen was just a baby. When it turns out that the women in Kathleen’s family have had a history of suicidal acts near the sea for more than a few generations, the situation begins to smell fishy, and Kathleen’s girlfriend, Harry (short for Harriet), wants to take her to Ireland to see if they can uncover some truth about Kathleen’s family history and her suffering. Claycomb structures the book into three acts, like an opera, and deftly switches between Kathleen’s and Harry’s voices—punctuated by Robin’s “Composer Notes”—to create the effect of singers baring their souls. Written with attention to musicality and the murmuring backdrop of the incessant ocean, this inventive story captures the mystery, tragic loss, and beauty of Hans Christian Andersen’s original mermaid tale while thoughtfully and passionately updating it. (Mar.)

Emily Mitchell

In The Mermaid’s Daughter, Ann Claycomb harnesses the grandeur of opera to bring to life a classic fairytale for the present day. This is a moving, fascinating, beautifully-rendered debut.

Ellen Herrick

A dark and compelling twist on a beloved fairy tale that will make you redefine happily ever after.

Kim van Alkemade

Ann Claycomb’s characters stayed on in my imagination long after I put the book down. Anyone who reads it will never look at The Little Mermaid the same way again.

Shawangunk Journal

...a long, beautiful... layered romantic fantasy.

Booklist

Claycomb’s fine first novel…is numinous and lovely.

Menna van Praag

A truly enchanting tale beautifully told.

New York Daily News

The Mermaid’s Daughter is a beautifully written and captivating read. Claycomb’s use of the fairy tale is deft and enchanting... a satisfying emotional journey, one that’s heart-wrenching and also a little magical.

Booklist

Claycomb’s fine first novel…is numinous and lovely.

New York Daily News

The Mermaid’s Daughter is a beautifully written and captivating read. Claycomb’s use of the fairy tale is deft and enchanting... a satisfying emotional journey, one that’s heart-wrenching and also a little magical.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062560681
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 513,821
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.01(d)

Customer Reviews