Scarlet Sails (Alexander Grin)

Scarlet Sails is a novel by Alexander Grin. I read the English translation by Fainna Glagoleva, who translates it as Crimson Sails.
Finished on: 2.12.2019

Assol grows up in a fisher village. She is poor and not particularly well-liked in the village, but an old storyteller foretold her that one day a ship with red sails would come with her love to take her away. Ever since Assol is waiting for that ship to arrive. Meanwhile, Arthur Gray is a rich kid who dreams of becoming a sea captain, a career choice that is both unthinkable and un-understandable for his parents. So Gray runs away to make his destiny.

Scarlet Sails is a beautiful, romantic fairy tale that pulled me in deeply and made me want to read more of Grin’s work. Wonderful.

The book cover showing a big ship with red sails.

I didn’t expect the book to be so outright fairy tale-ish, but it hits exactly that spot between lyricism and naivité that make fairy tales so wonderful. And that despite the fact that I suspect that the translation I read isn’t very good.

Despite that, I was completely invested in Assol and Gray’s story and their romance, although the gender roles here are certainly worth discussing and critcizing. But it still worked for me – I found their romance absolutely cute.

But what I probably loved most about the story is that in the end, the dreamers aren’t punished for dreaming, as is so often the case. They don’t need to learn any hard lessons about the realities of their world, they don’t find out how their dreams are just lies. Instead they are utterly rewarded for being dreamers, romantics and fantasists.

In short, I found Scarlet Sails to be incredibly sweet, and – as I said – it made me very curious to see what else Grin has written. I’ll have to check it out.

Summarizing: wonderful.

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