Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

Published: 2018 Hodder & Stoughton 1. First lines. 2. Cover 3. Scotland landscape (cropped from original) [CC BY-NC 2.0] via flickr 4. Cross [Public Domain] via stockvault

Libby is an archaeologist with an interest in the fictional Ullaness in Scotland, and where, according to legend, a Viking woman called Ulla fled from her abusive husband with her lover. Libby is preparing to work on a dig at Ullaness, where her great-great-grandmother Ellen had lived in the Victorian era and who had carried a secret with her throughout her life. The secret is connected to the gold cross passed down through the family to Libby.

“Perhaps that’s what a legend is, a memory preserved over many generations”

BOOK SNAPS: Three timelines are woven seamlessly in this book with enough mystery to keep the pages turning. Not quite ”fabulous” (The Seattle Book Review), but still very enjoyable. The Historical Novel Society thought that even though the “relationships are straightforward and unsurprising, the multiple crimes within the book are more layered and allow for surprises and satisfying resolutions.” I agree, although I didn’t find it easy to unravel the mysteries.


“The tide was well in and the only sound was that of the waves as they crept, hissing over the sand to the line of seaweed which marked the tide’s turning point. Not an engine, not a voice, not a gull’s cry. And out at sea the moon floated above the horizon, pouring silver across the dark swells and lighting the spume at the shore’s edge.”

“Her gaze followed the curve of the northern beach where, somewhere amongst the sand dunes, there was a mound that they would excavate this summer.”

Author: Sarah Maine

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