The Comet Seekers

Written by Helen Sedgwick
Review by Jackie Drohan

This spellbinding debut novel encompasses the past, present and future of two unexpected lovers whose lives and relationships are intertwined with the passing of great comets overhead. The characters’ complexity and the connections in their lives build as the book slowly gets to its climax.

The two primary characters first meet on a snowy white expanse of modern Antarctica and are immediately drawn to each other, knowing everything will change for them. They are completely different in personality and past. Older by a few years, scientist Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland with her astronomer father. She is passionate and well suited for surviving and working on the remote base station. François, the chef for the base, has left his birthplace in Bayeux, France, never having been away from home before. They are each longing for a fresh start, their respective reasons for leaving home each tied to tragedy.

Time and its complexity are the book’s most magical elements. The destinies of the two lovers are shown by the glimpses of the past and future, the celestial visitation of comets, and the ghostly, almost watchful presence of their ancestors. The novel’s main story is contemporary, but each chapter provides a historical vignette going back as early as the 11th century.

Sedgwick’s style is demonstrative and tactile, with the sweet, casual poeticism of haiku. A skillfully crafted, and emotionally perceptive novel that gives the reader a chance to explore the choices we make, the connections we miss, and the ties that inextricably join our fates.