Maiden from the Sea
Seventeenth-century historical, time-slip, paranormal, castaway narrative – Maiden from the Sea is a novel that defies easy categorization. The main thread of the story is (or appears to be) the tale of Genevieve Laurier, a French maid who falls overboard on her way to Canada. Washed up on an island in the Newfoundland area, she is discovered by two Irishmen on a fishing expedition. Unable to take her aboard their ship, they leave her alone on the island with rudimentary shelter and supplies. Eventually she encounters a Beothuk warrior, one of the last survivors of his race, which is suffering under European encroachment, but their ensuing relationship makes them pariahs to both Europeans and Beothuk. As Genevieve struggles to survive, she finds her dreams haunted by women from a time she does not recognize, dreams which begin to reach into real life.
Although I understood this was not the author’s intention, I would have been happy had Strowbridge developed Genevieve’s story in a ‘straight’ historical novel; the account of the violent birthpangs of Newfoundland was gripping, the death and rebirth of Canada’s peoples tragic yet hopeful. The framework on which she hung this story was much less compelling for me.
This novel would make more sense to those already acquainted with the settlement of Canada (I had to research places and peoples to better understand the story). However, if you are interested in this subject, in the idea of genetic memory or simply in a vivid, poetic evocation of the landscape you may enjoy this unusual novel.