Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick - An Ethereal, Wonderful Book about Love, Loss and, Comets

As I have said before, I love quirky books that step outside the normal confines of time and space. The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick is one such book. I saw the hardback version in Waterstone's, and I had to have it! I couldn't wait until August for the paperback version, so I put it on my Christmas list and was very happy to receive it on Christmas Day.
The story begins in 2017 at Halley VI, the British Antarctic Survey Research Station, where Róisín, a scientist, meets François, a chef. This unlikely couple feel drawn together: drawn to this desolate place of snow covered ice and rock, the very things comets are made of, and drawn to the comet which is due to pass at its closest to earth in three weeks on its way to the sun.
Helen Sedgwick then skilfully takes us back and forth in time, each time a comet appears from 1066 to the present day, to explain why they have met in such a place.
She focuses on the forbidden love between Róisín and her cousin, Liam, and how François copes with his mother, Severine, who talks to the ghosts of her family, and through whose lives the story is told over one thousand years. And she shows how Róisín's and François' lives tantalizingly almost touch several times until they meet on the Research Station.
There are so many themes to explore: the Bayeux Tapestry for one, sewn (in the same way the story goes back and forth in time) by Anglo-Saxon women in England.
Then there is the red tent that Róisín and her cousin, Liam, sleep out in to see Comet West in 1976, mirrored by the red tent that she uses in the Antarctic, and the tent that Severine and François use when they are comet-seeking too.
There is also the theme of loss reflecting the approach and passage of the comets with the events in the lives of Róisín, Liam, François and Severine.
I can recommend this ethereal, wonderful book about love, loss and, comets. There is so much to it, I think I might read it again!


  1. This sounds so fascinating, Jean - I like stories that cover wider periods and interesting subjects.

  2. Thanks, Rosemary, this one certainly does!