The Winter Sea
by Susanna Kearsley
Kindle edition, 544 pages
Published December 1st, 2010 by Sourcebooks
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…
I didn’t know much about the Jacobites. All I know was that it’s a rebellion done by Scotland to restore its king and a power struggle between Catholic and Protestants. Even those knowledge I got from Outlander, about Bonnie Prince Charlie. THE WINTER SEA is about the previous Jacobite rising, with King James (… – I forgot) who laid claim on the throne. While I know nothing about the book, the writing makes it very easy for me to immersed with that era of Scotland, as well some information given during the present time.
This book has 2 stories: one of Carrie who is from the present time, writing about the Jacobite rising, and the other is Sophia, from the Jacobite era, the main character in Carrie’s book. I love how we can easily separate those 2 eras and how the story flows beautifuly. The constant change of point-of-view does not disrupt the story, in fact it gives more depth to it.
Writing style and world building
One of the main reason why the transition between those 2 povs were seamless are the writing style. Carrie’s story is written with more straighforward writing and slangs, while Sophia’s follows classic writing style: not very straightforward and difficult languages. These writing style also extend to descriptions in this book regarding the castles and the landscape near Slains; the description style is different depending whether it’s Carrie or Sophia who showed it to you. This helps me getting immersed more in the world building and customs in the Jacobite era, and while I think Scotland is such a gloomy and dreary place, I now understand the charm of Scottish Highlands era to some readers.
I can’t say much about the characters, because I find them all flat. But somehow, I was invested with their story. I think it’s more because of the writing, plot, and world building rather than the characters themselves. The most interesting character would be Captain Gordon (who’s amazing) and the Earl and Countess of Errol, who is freaking sneaky and just like Littlefinger, but nicer.
Okay, random part here. I love how all editions of this book’s cover captures the feeling of this book (and Sophia’s) very well. They oozes loneliness, desolation, and despair; either it is because Sophia’s lone figure or Slain’s ruins looking out at the sea. They are just perfect, all of these covers.
Dislikes (SPOILERS SPOILERS)
I really hoped this whole “genetic memory” thing is unreal, just a theory by Dr. Weir to explain things. I really expected it to be a reincarnation or something, especially with how the book ends hinting at full circle of “history repeat itself”. And it will be so much more romantic how they are always finding themselves no matter how many lives they had.
Another thing is how Sophia abandoned her baby. Most of the complaints also talked about this. So Moray’s memory is too painful for Sophia. But does she not love her own daughter? How could she just abandoned her because the child reminds her too much of the father? And even when Moray is back, they never came back for her. Like really? I know it was wartime but don’t you want to know Anna? Don’t you think she wanted to know you? Not to mention the differences of opportunity Anna will have between being a countess niece and a fisherman’s daughter. It’s just so infuriating and unlikeable that they chose to do that.