Here’s what I remember of this book, as it has now been several weeks since I finished it.
The main character is named Iris. I had a hard time getting over this name, as it sounds like the name of a 100-year old. I had to continually re-draw my mental picture of her as about 40 years younger than my original. She is a writing instructor at some unconventional places – a prison and an ESL class. She gives students in both classes a writing assignment concerning childhood fairytales or myths, and is searching for meaning in a fairytale of her own. It’s a story told to her by her mother, who died mysteriously in a hotel fire when Iris was young, about the Selkie, a mermaid-like creature who sheds her skin to become human. The creature marries and has a child, whom she eventually abandons in order to go back to the Selkie world. Or something like that. Iris has plans to publish the story of her mother, which intrigues an editor, who also happens to be the niece of a bigwig hotel owner. This connection sets a chain of events into motion that results in the purchase of the old hotel where Iris’ parents used to work, and Iris herself going back to the hotel to work for the summer, while also trying to discover a secret her mother left there.
It is here that things get complicated, to say the least. Without issuing a major SPOILER ALERT, let’s just say that a slow-moving, reflective novel turns into a suspense thriller/whodunit with a dash of romance.
The novel is well written, but just trying to summarize it here was difficult. I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t put it on my highly-recommended list. In a few months, I’ll forget entirely about this book, or even that I read it.