A horrible storm off the cold coasts of fifteenth-century Iceland sends the Trinity crashing to shore, with nearly no survivors. For Ragna, the teenage daughter of a respected family who is betrothed to the dashing and wealthy Thorkell, the shipwreck presents a life-changing risk she cannot resist: a handsome sailor named Michael, who is seduced by her gentle singing during his stay in the hospital, then impregnates her and promptly disappears. Thorkell cannot marry her and take in another man’s son, and Ragna is left barren from a traumatic childbirth and stigmatized as a fallen woman.
A decade later, Ragna becomes a housekeeper to the new English bishop in North Iceland, where passionate and ambitious Thorkell is a priest and steward. They embark on a fervent but doomed love affair as priests cannot marry and Ragna will not be a concubine. As sweeping as it is intimate, On the Cold Coasts is a powerful, enduring story of love and personal sacrifice.