Book Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

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.

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22 Responses to Book Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

  1. Kailana says:

    I am so glad you liked this, Carrie. I hope you will read more from her because she is a very talented author!

  2. Mary
    Twitter: bookfanmb
    says:

    I bought this after reading several terrific reviews. I really liked it! Kearsley is now one of my auto-buy authors.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Mary – I think she’s going to become one of mine, too, especially since the library doesn’t carry any of her work.

  3. Beth Hoffman says:

    You’ve just convinced me to move this up on my list. Terrific review, Carrie.

    Have a great week!

  4. ibeeeg says:

    Oh wow! It is good to see that you liked this book so well. I keep staring at this book when I browse Amazon and several times I almost placed it into my cart but was unsure if I would like it. I now know that I will need to place it my cart and hit the submit button. I am certain that I will like it now.

  5. irene says:

    Sound perfect. Thanks for your review.

  6. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    Really. Huh. Well, as you know, when you mention this time in history, I instantly thinking of Jamie and those kilts. And I love that cover. Hmmm.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – her writing does remind me a bit of Diana Gabaldon’s. She’s not quite as detailed – and no explicit sex, but plenty of sigh-worthy romance and men of honor.

  7. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I’m glad you loved this so much! I think I’m going to spend the last couple months of the year reading whatever strikes my fancy.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – I am doing more of that, too – life is too short to miss out on the great books waiting on my shelves!

  8. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    Yay! I am so glad that you loved this book! And there are more fabulous Kearsley’s for you to fall in love with too!

    Why, yes, I am now a shameless Kearsley fan girl!

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    This one’s been on my wish list for a while. Now I remeber why I put it on there in the first place πŸ™‚

  10. Wow after a review like that how could I not want to read this book!
    It sounds like an interesting story. I love the Outlander books as well and I was just saying the other day how I wished there was more historical fiction set in Ireland and Scotland (seeing as it;s very French and English based).
    Will definitely have to check this one out.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Christa – if you love Gabaldon, I really think you will enjoy this one. πŸ™‚

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