Jan 052017

Cover for The Mermaid's Daughter by Ann Claycomb.Booklist: Self-styled drama queen, Kathleen’s phantom pain in her feet and mouth is anything but artifice; it is the same kind of inexplicable, excruciating pain that drove her mother to suicide. The only thing that affords Kathleen relief is immersion in water, preferably the sea, though it is the sea that generations of women in her Irish family, which seems to be cursed, have chosen as their means of suicide. Now, on a vacation trip to Florida with her girlfriend, Harry, she begins hearing mysterious voices from the sea calling, “Come home. Come home.” Angrily denying their summons, she returns home with Harry return to Boston, where Kathleen suffers a debilitating attack that leaves her hospitalized. Harry and Kathleen’s father agree that an end to her pain might be found if she is taken to Ireland. But will it? Claycomb’s fine first novel is told from multiple points of view, even that of mermaids, for, yes, the novel is a loose retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. And, like its source, it is numinous and lovely.