Gillian Flynn
May 03, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Seal Wife

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kathryn Harrison
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B-

With prose as pristine as ice droplets, Harrison (author of The Binding Chair and the incest memoir The Kiss) tells the story of Bigelow, a young man sent to Alaska in 1915 to establish a weather observatory. In the lonesome railroad town of Anchorage, where men drink and fight and woo a scattering of females, Bigelow nurtures twin obsessions: to build a kite that will probe the skies he cannot reach and to win the love of a native woman who allows him into her bed but refuses to speak. From these dual fixations, Harrison spins out vague themes about communication and the ability to truly know another, but the motif is ultimately incomplete—as are her characters, who remain coldly remote. B-

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