The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. (December 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402241372
- ISBN-13: 978-1402241376
Genre: Historical Fiction with Memory Time Travel
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Back Cover Description (I thought this was most accurate of the descriptions I found):
History has all but forgotten...Review: This engaging story has the added twist of covering two romances: one set in 1708 Scotland and the other in the present.
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 of what really happened all those years ago -- a tale of love and loyalty... and ultimate betrayal.
Author, Carrie McClelland, decides to view first hand some of the sites that are to be included in her next historical novel. She intends to write about the 1708 failed attempt to return King James to the throne of England. The central character was to be Nathaniel Hooke but Carrie’s agent suggests that she use someone else to present the story; perhaps a woman. Carrie begins to think about a good Scottish name for her female character and the next thing she knows the character, Sophia, is writing her own story.
Carrie moves into a quaint cottage where she can see the sea and visit the nearby castle of Slains where Nathaniel would have visited. Bit by bit she begins to find everything seems familiar. There are details that she just shouldn’t or couldn’t know - the layout of the castle, now in ruins, or the names of the ships and visitors. Once they appear in her drafts she discovers research that reveals that the “fiction” she is writing is supported by the “facts” of historical records.
Sophia tells her own story as she joins a household that is involved in the political aspects of the Jacobite rebellion. They have to hide their support and efforts because there are spies all around. Sophia draws the attention of the mature Captain Gordon but it is the quiet and intense John Moray who catches her attention. Moray is traveling with Hooke but he needs to "lay low" as he is considered an outlaw.
Just as Sophia becomes entangled with two men in the past, Carrie is presented with the dilemma of being attracted to the two sons of her landlord. The younger son, Stuart, is the handsome, active businessman who is pleased to take Carrie out to lunch and show her about the community. Then she meets the older brother, Graham, who is the quiet but intense history professor and who looks an awful lot like Sophia’s Mr. Moray.
I enjoyed how the author presented the 1708 story through Carrie’s “genetic memories” of Sophia’s life. I was glad of the surprise ending that I didn’t expect.
The book has a somber, haunting, tone to it and I was trying to peg the feeling it invoked. I think the author described this well in our interview when she said that the label she would use is “modern gothic”. That does fit well as the story has the eerie mystery aspect of a good gothic romance.
I recommend this fine read to historical fiction and gothic fans!
xxxThank you to Sourcebooks for the book to read and review.
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