I’m an historical fiction junkie and while I don’t read general romance books, when it’s tossed with some historical fiction, I’m all about it. That’s what Kearsley does so deftly in this book — she takes what should be a simple story about a woman writing a book and makes it about the lives of the women she’s writing about. This is a book where I wanted every possible happy ending to happen.
The Winter Sea begins in present day Scotland with an author, Carrie McClelland, working on a new novel about the Jacobites and a failed invasion. She finds inspiration while visiting a friend who lives in Scotland and decides to stay on and rent a small cottage near Slain’s Castle which plays a part in the story she’s telling. The cozy cottage fits her needs well and the writing comes along at an incredible pace for her. Carrie begins making friends with many of the locals; particularly the sons of the man she’s renting the cottage from. All seems to be going incredibly well, except the research. Research has always been a part of her work but she finds herself not needing it so much in this book. Carrie begins to wonder if the past is starting to intrude a bit on the present for her.
Time slips never bother me, especially in historical fiction. In The Winter Sea I particularly enjoyed this because we got to meet so many interesting characters. The second story, the story within the story if you will, only takes place in the time slip, and is centered in 1708 Scotland. It’s here that Sophia Paterson, a young woman running from a bad situation, is taken in by a Countess (she is made out to be a distant relative) and finds love, and a life she never expected.
When I said I wanted the proverbial happy ending above, this is where I wanted it. Without giving much away, there were parts of Sophia’s story that were so sad but understandable. Really, I adored this character and wanted her to be just as happy as Carrie. It was not to be but that doesn’t change how much I enjoyed this book.
I’ll admit that I’m easily seduced by a Scottish setting but it was the wonderful characters that immediately sucked me in. This one lived up to my expectations and beyond. While there were two distinct stories being told here, they never felt separate, they were integrated so well I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything when the perspective switched. I loved the family history that Kearsley wove throughout the story for Carrie, which was part of the reason it worked so well. Tying the fictional author to her ancestral characters was a nice touch.
This was my first of Kearsley’s books. I’m just sorry I waited so long to pick this one up.
The Winter Sea
By Susanna Kearsley