Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sea Change by Karen White

Sea Change by Karen White
New American Library
ISBN: 9780451236760
Published: June 5, 2012
Trade paperback, 416 pages

The novel opens in the year 1804 on St. Simon’s Island off the coast of Georgia, with a young midwife, Pamela, narrating. Following a fierce storm, she finds a wide gold wedding band with the word forever etched on the inside, taking it as an omen for her upcoming marriage.

Fast forward to 2011. The narrator is thirty-something Ava Whalen, also a midwife, who falls deeply in love with kindred spirit Matthew Frazier. They marry, move to his ancestral home on St. Simons Island with Ava believing that happiness awaits her. She quickly discovers, however, that both her new husband and her new home hold mysteries linked to the past, including the circumstances surrounding the death of his first wife, a beautiful accomplished woman. As soon as the reader steps into the house, an eerie feeling starts to build. For Ava there are many déjà-vu moments that she cannot explain. Nightmares and fear of water pursue her. How does the scent of ashes connect with her feeling of not quite belonging?

As usual, Karen White tells an interesting tale of the South. St. Simons Island is a beautiful place filled with “canopies of live oak trees, with their curled arms holding up the moss like a woman displaying her jewellery.” The author excels at descriptions of time and place, seamlessly navigating between the 1800s and the present, with charming descriptions of Island life, clothes, and attitudes of both periods. For history buffs, the War of 1812 makes an appearance!

I usually try to figure out how the book title relates to the story. Sea change refers to a big and sudden change, a transformation. Who or what experienced it? It wasn’t clear to me.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I don’t think it is Karen White’s best. It began as a page-turner (it almost felt like time travel) but there were too many unanswered questions and I wasn’t happy with the ending. But, all told, it’s a good read. Fans of mystery (and there are mysteries on various levels), southern tales, romance and history will enjoy this book. 

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Penguin 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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