Saturday, December 18, 2010

'The Winter Sea' by Susanna Kearsley

Historical Fiction, Originally published in 2008, this edition by Sourcebooks in December, 2010, trade pb (ARC), 508 p.
(also published as 'Sophia's Secret' in the UK)
From the back cover (ARC):
History has all but forgotten…
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.
Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine names for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write.
But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who can know the truth of what really happened all those years ago – a tale of love and loyalty… and ultimate betrayal…
My reading has been slower than I'd like lately, and not helped much by a certain Japanese classic (ahem) that keeps putting me to sleep, but this must have been just the kind of book I was needing to pick up in its place. I simply DEVOURED it last weekend!

The Winter Sea is the story of Carrie, a historical fiction author, and her experience as she writes the story of this particular period in Scottish history as James VIII attempts to return from exile in France to reclaim his crown. It is also the story of Sophia, living at Slains Castle about 300 years earlier, at the time when the events occurred. The two stories are told in parallel, with chapters alternating back and forth and both take place at the same place on the Scottish Coast. Carrie felt a certain mysterious draw to the ruins of the Castle from the first moment she saw them, and has rented a cottage in the nearby town to be near the Castle while she works on the book. And from that point, the two stories begin to intersect in unexpected ways.

Sometimes when a book has two different storylines running through it, I can be more interested in one, than the other. However, in The Winter Sea I was completely engaged in both stories, and feel that the characters in both came truly alive, regardless of the years and circumstances surrounding them, and the layer of distance that could have been added by the story-within-the-story plot. In other words, I was just as eager to see how the contemporary story would unfold, as the historical one, which kept me turning the pages. I almost couldn’t turn them fast enough.

There was one particular scene near the end that had me tearing up. This in itself is not at all a bad thing. I love it when a book can elicit some kind of emotional response from me, be it tears, laughter, or anger. The problem here was that I was reading it in the train on my way home. I wonder what the people sitting near me thought as I started sniffing ever so quietly, or so I attempted, and my eyes started to water. I had to close the book for a few minutes but the pull to read on was stronger than caring what they thought of me.

All in all, The Winter Sea was a wonderful book to escape into for a couple of days with fabulous characters, and an engaging story. This was my first book by Susanna Kearsley but it will not be my last.

Susanna Kearsley's website
Discussion of The Winter Sea at Historical Tapestry

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read this book.

Buy The Winter Sea at: [Paperback] [Kindle version] | |

Also reviewed by:
Bookfoolery and Babble
A Work in Progress
The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
A Girl Walks into a Bookstore
The Indextrious Reader
If you've also reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.

The small print: This book was received free of charge from the publisher for review purposes. Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover) or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively. Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission. For more information please visit my About Page.

1 comment:

  1. I do that too when there is more than one story line... I find myself skimming the one I like less to get to the story line I am enjoying. I like hearing that both are very good.


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