Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Rated: C)
ISBN 978-1-4022-4137-6
Published December 2010
Trade Paperback, 523 pages

Reviewed by Sandra

This is historical fiction at its best! Not only does the reader get a brief history of Scotland, but interwoven in that history are double love stories, one in the 1700’s, the other in modern times.

A young author, Carrie McClelland, is writing a novel set in Stains Castle, Scotland that begins in the spring of 1708. The backdrop of this tale is set against the unsuccessful attempt to restore James Stewart VIII to the throne of Scotland. One of the main characters in the story is Sophia, an ancestor of the author, who lived at that time. Sophia falls deeply in love with a dashing young Jacobite (as supporters of James were called) marries him and has a baby. Due to the political climate of the time, all of their lives are in jeopardy. When Sophia receives news of her husband’s death, in her despair she makes a life-altering decision.

McClelland rents a cottage near the ruins of the castle in order to get a “feel” for the past and to get the inspiration to finish her novel. She meets and falls in love with a history professor from a nearby University who is very familiar with the 1700s. In the process of researching and writing her novel she often experiences strange feelings. “I felt an unexpected twisting of unease deep in my chest….a sense of something at my back that made me scared to look behind.” Another time she describes it as “every hair on my neck was rising with the sense of something wicked on its way.” And thus the story begins to alternate between the past and the present. It may be tempting to read it as a time-travel novel, but the author herself often refers to déjà-vu, ancestral memory or genetic memory to account for her familiarity with the past. Part of the brilliance of the novel was having the reader decide for themselves. Personally, I saw no evidence of time travel in the story, but the story “called to me” much as do the bagpipes, as some of my ancestors were Scots. Is that genetic memory? This well-written novel provoked such questions.

To all readers who enjoy historical fiction, this novel won’t disappoint.

Disclosure: Thanks to Danielle L. Jackson from Sourcebooks for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. This sounds wonderful! I love to read about Scotland.

  2. I am sooooo looking forward to reading this book! You really sparked my interest about the genetic memory. Thanks for a fantastic review.


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