Title: The Winter Sea
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Genre: Contemporary/historical fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: It wasn’t chance.
Carrie McLelland, best-selling historical fiction author, journeys to a Scottish village in the shadow of Slains Castle, hoping to find inspiration for her latest novel. She is writing about a little known Jacobite uprising in 1708, using her real-life ancestor, Sophia, as the main character. As Carrie begins to craft Sophia’s story, her writing process is transformed to the point where the words are simply pouring out of her. When she begins to find that the characters and places and events she believes she is creating are actually rooted in historical fact, she wonders if there is something more to it than simply the art of fiction.
I bought The Winter Sea after many bloggers – including Kelly and Marg raved about it when it first came out. I finally
found made time to read it, and I am so glad. Review pile, reading obligations be darned – sometimes you simply need to read a book because it is calling to you from the shelf. And this book apparently knew it was just what I needed these past few weeks.
I love sweeping historical fiction with star-crossed romance. I love fiction set anywhere in the British Isles, but particularly Ireland and Scotland. I love reading about an author’s writing process. I love books set by the ocean. In The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley has taken all of these elements and written a novel that is pretty close to perfect.
I know a bit about the “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Jacobite uprising, thanks to Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series, but I hadn’t heard of the 1708 attempt to bring James Stewart back from France to take the throne. I now know a lot, but don’t think that this is a dry book long on history and short on enjoyment. This is a book long on history and long on enjoyment – I enjoyed every single page.
The Winter Sea will no doubt appear on my list of favorite reads of 2011. It was so engaging that it was able to distract me from the stressful things going on outside my reading life – which is the mark of an excellent read.