Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: ‘The Winter Sea’ by Susanna Kearsley

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 named 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 knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...
(Amazon product description)

The Winter Sea 

I really don’t like the Amazon description on this book.  I don’t get the whole reference to “...that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...”  I didn’t pick up on anything that dramatic in the book.  That being said, this book was well written and had a fascinating plot.  Many writers claim to hear the voices of their characters in their heads, but in Carrie’s case, her character is telling the truth, giving her a view into actual events from history.  I don’t know any writer who would not want that to happen to them.  She is skeptical at first, thinking she must have read these details somewhere before, but one coincidence after another finally leads her to understand what is happening to her...she is channeling the memories of her ancestor. 

My favorite part of this book was the history.  Part of me longs to live in a damp castle on top of a cliff in Scotland.  The author did a great job explaining the context of the Jacobite cause without making it sound like a giant info dump.  Even though the main characters in the historical part of the book are not major players in the Jacobite cause, you get to see how so many regular people worked behind the scenes in effort to bring King James Stuart back to the throne. 

The plot of the book goes back and forth between the past and the present, but still, the plot moves together in a linear motion. Not confusing at all.  In fact, each scene compliments the other, building the story. 

There are two love story plots in the book; Carrie and Graham in the present, and Sophia and John in the past.  Both were understated and grew naturally.  But of the two, I was more interested in the romance between Sofia and John, particularly since we know from the beginning that Sophia ended up marrying someone else only three years later.  I couldn’t figure out how Sophia could possibly get her happy ending, so the twist at the end was a pleasant surprise. 

Overall, I give The Winter Sea...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks
History - 4 bookmarks
Romance - 3 1/2 for Carrie & Graham & 4 1/2 for Sophia & John
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Amy Adams (Carrie), Ewan McGregor (Graham), Tom Hardy (John), April Pearson (Sophia)

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