Monday, September 13, 2010

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. But when bestselling author Carrie McClelland is drawn to the coastal town of Slains and decides to base her new historical novel there, it's an opportunity for the past to come to life. She focuses her story on the inhabitants of Slains Castle and decides to place one of her own ancestors - Sophia Paterson - into this Jacobite stronghold, through whom she can relate events.
Her subsequent discovery that Sophia did indeed live at Slains Castle during the rebellion leads Carrie to realise that this story is not entirely her own and that inspiration is coming to her direct from the past. As Sophia's memories draw Carrie more deeply into the intrigue of 1708, she comes to realise that a hitherto unrealised bond with her ancestor is providing her with a direct window into the true events of the time.
Mesmerising and meticulously researched, The Winter Sea is a haunting tale of two women's experiences of love, political intrigue and personal betrayal in two very different times.
For Historical Tapestries Blogiversary, Marg, Ana, and Alex posted their Books of a Lifetime posts. When I was reading them I noticed that both Marg and Alex included The Winter Sea (Sophia's Secret) on their lists. Marg has been talking about Kearsley for a while, and I even had her out from the library, but I hadn't got around to reading anything by her. The Books of a Lifetime posts inspired me to try again. The verdict is that I agree with Alex and Marg! This book was a wonderful mix of the supernatural, historical fiction, and modern-day Scotland. I knew I was going to love the book from about the first page, but by the first chapter I was hard-pressed to put the book down. Since this hasn't happened as much this year as I would like, I was so happy to have found a 'wow' book and an author that easily just hit my list of favourite authors.

Scotland is a place I wouldn't mind visiting at some point and time, but in the meantime I enjoy reading books with a Scottish setting. Kearsley's book takes place in both modern-day Scotland and a Scotland of the 18th-century. Carrie McClelland is an author that winds up being drawn to the area and writing a book while living in a little cottage on the Scottish coast. It turns out that she has a bit unnatural connection with the Scotland of the past. The developing of her novel and the novel that we are reading is done so seamlessly and even when it might stray to a little strange, you still believe it. I did, anyways. I found it really well done! You can tell that Kearsley researched every aspect of her novel extensively. It was intriguing to watch the woman of the past and the woman of the present progress as characters. I enjoyed learning more about them.

If I had just read the back of the book I probably never would have read this book, but thanks to the power of book blogging I found a fantastic author! It was a real page-turner, and even if it is marketed as romance you have to remember that there is a lot more to the book than that. I recommend this book entirely! I am so glad I took a chance on this book because it was so worth it!


  1. I love books where the past and present co-exist! I think this is coming out in paperback soon in the US and I definitely plan on using a Borders coupon to buy it new - something I don't often do.

    Thanks for the multiple reviews - I'd never heard of the book up until a few weeks ago.


  2. I am so glad you picked this up to read. It's funny, I knew within two pages that I was going to love this book, and so far Susanna Kearsley hasn't disappointed with any of her other books either.

    Katherine, it is being rereleased soon. I hope you get to read it, and love it too!

  3. I've had my eye on this one for quite awhile now, awaiting its release in the US. I'm delighted to read another positive review.

  4. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it! I came across this book recently while re-organizing my TBR pile and I'm hoping to read it soon, too.

  5. Katherine: It was a fantastic read. I hope you enjoy it!

    Marg: I knew pretty soon in that I was going to love it, too. I wish I had read it the first time I had it out from the library!

    Angiegirl: It's a great book. I hope you enjoy it!

    Kay: Don't you always love when you find treasures on your TBR pile that you had basically forgotten about? I hope you enjoy it!