The Mermaid's Daughter

The Mermaid's Daughter : A Novel

3.72 (2,177 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.72 (2,177 ratings by Goodreads)

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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?
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 26mm | 323g
  • William Morrow Paperbacks
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • illustrations
  • 0062560689
  • 9780062560681
  • 437,283

Back cover copy

A modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," Ann Claycomb's unforgettable debut novel weaves a spellbinding tale of magic and the power of love. . . .

Since childhood, Kathleen has been plagued by bizarre maladies, from stabbing pains in her feet to the terrifying sensation of her tongue being cut out. Teams of doctors have been unable to diagnose her, and only the touch of seawater temporarily eases her pain.

Studying opera at a top conservatory, Kathleen shows tremendous promise as a soprano, but her phantom pains and obsession with the sea grow more debilitating every day. Her girlfriend, Harry, a talented singer in her own right, worries Kathleen will suffer the same fate as her mother and grandmother. When Kathleen has yet another dangerous breakdown, Harry convinces her to return to her Irish birthplace to try to make sense of a legacy of tragedy.

But in Ireland, they soon discover that Kathleen's family history is far older and darker than either could have imagined. Kathleen's fate seems sealed, and the only way out is to make the worst choice of all: ending her lover's life or her own.
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Review quote

"A truly enchanting tale beautifully told." -- Menna van Praag, author of The Dress Shop of Dreams "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." -- Kim van Alkemade, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 "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." -- New York Daily News "Claycomb's fine first numinous and lovely. -- Booklist "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 Christan Andersen's original mermaid tale while thoughtfully and passionately updating it." -- Publishers Weekly "A dark and compelling twist on a beloved fairy tale that will make you redefine happily ever after." -- Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters "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." -- Emily Mitchell, author of The Last Summer of the World "...a long, beautiful... layered romantic fantasy." -- Shawangunk Journal
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About Ann Claycomb

Ann Claycomb's fiction has been published in American Short Fiction, Zahir, Fiction Weekly, Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, The Evansville Review, Title Goes Here, and other publications. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University.
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Rating details

2,177 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 24% (533)
4 38% (832)
3 25% (541)
2 9% (203)
1 3% (68)
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