I received The Comet Seekers in exchange for an honest review
This was an absolutely beauty of a book. It’s been compared to two of my favourite books – One Day and The Time Traveller’s Wife – and this is one of those rare occasions where I feel those comparisons are spot on. Evocative, elegant prose and an achingly romantic story with a dose of poignant symbolism and magical realism, I don’t know why this beautiful debut hasn’t received more attention already.
Weaving back and forth through time following the trajectory of the characters’ lives only at times when a comet is high in the sky, this story felt truly unique. It opens during comet Giacobini and introduces Róisín and Francois. The two are working at an isolated research station in Antarctica, Róisín as a scientist and Francois at the station’s chef. The two meet under the stars at the end of the world, and then the story spans back through time and across continents, following the journey of the characters and their families which lead them to that point.
There’s many themes in this book; from comets to ghosts to travel and so much more, but at its core are the relationships between the characters. Without giving too much away, it’s not so much about the relationship between Róisín and Francois but the relationships which formed their characters and brought them to that point in their lives. We learn about Francois’s childhood growing up in France and his close bond with his mother, Severine, and in turn her relationships with her family. Róisín, on the other hand, grew up in a small village in Ireland where she developed a fascination with the stars and formed a relationship with her cousin Liam. While all of the relationships in this book are well-drawn, I found the way Liam and Róisín came together despite their situation and distinctive differences particularly touching.
There’s something about considering the vastness of the planet and the skies which can make a person feel insignificant. It’s even reflected in the book, as Róisín contemplates; “Perhaps a part of her knows that we are too small to matter. Nothing happened, that’s the thing. The universe carried on, the comets kept coming – it made no difference. A life and a death made no difference.” Somehow Sedgewick both embraces and opposes this notion in this sweeping story set under the stars. She takes the reader a journey to look at the bigger picture; how generations and countless choices lead a person be in a certain place at a certain time, but yet her story also emphasis the incredible impact one person can have on another.
There’s so much more I could say about this book; with its myriad themes I really could talk about it all day and I think it would make a brilliant book club read. But, it’s one that should be gone into with fresh eyes – you should experience it for yourself. Highly recommended – I definitely think this will be on my favourites list for 2016.