The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
So, just finished reading The Winter Sea. This is a story within a story told by Carrie McLelland. Carrie is an author writing an historical novel focusing on events that took place around 1708 (concerning James Stewart). Experiencing writer’s block Carrie visits her agent in Scotland following which she changes not only the focus of her novel but also her own writing base (renting a house close to Slain’s castle). The novel is partly the story of Carrie and the developing romance between her and her new landlord’s son and Sophia who has become the main focus of the story that Carrie is actually writing.
I can’t remember how I came to pick this book up and I confess that I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to like it so I was pleasantly surprised. I thought this was a very enjoyable and almost sweet read. I can’t comment about how accurate the historical content actually is, but I was intrigued to read about the events of 1708 and would be interested to read more on the subject. I loved the setting (as I do enjoy the Scottish location) and on top of this there are two romances (so if you like romances it’s a must win!).
On the whole I thought this was a lovely combination of history and romance, I thought the writing was good and the characters likable and, importantly I liked the way the information was introduced, mainly through dialogue, rather than huge info dumps that break the story up.
In terms of criticisms – and be aware that the next paragraph will contain a plot spoiler – I read a lot of books that require you to suspend your disbelief but, for me, I found the whole idea of genetic memory a bit too odd. I would have just preferred if Carrie undertook her research and then wrote her novel as a work of fiction based around the facts she’d uncovered, or maybe it could have been treated more like a haunting – not this revisiting of memories. Also, I think the romances, both of them, could have maybe used a bit more tension to set the pulse racing. It felt as though both of the romances were a bit too easy (and, I will say, if you’re looking for a bodice ripper this is not the book for you). Also, I found the ending predictable, but in a good way.
Criticisms aside however I would definitely recommend this book – it would be a great beach read.