When venturing into the historical fiction genre, I’m often drawn to specific, brief events that were either glossed over or left entirely out of the history books, as opposed to those that cover broad subjects that can be densely overwhelming. Given a subject like Henry XIII and his wives or Joan of Arc, both popular subjects of the genre, an author could easily lose an audience to an overwhelming amount of explanation and facts. Instead, Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea offers a narrow, controlled exploration of a lesser known event, the 1708 Jacobite failed uprising by James Stewart against William of Orange and Mary Stewart to reclaim the throne. It is an enthralling story that makes the facts and descriptions of the people and places surrounding the uprising much more palatable and absorbing.
The Winter Sea also offers a unique narrative format. Main character and popular historical fiction novelist Carrie McClelland rents a cottage for the summer on the coast of Scotland, not far from Slain Castle (where she sets her story) and where the Jacobite uprising occurred centuries ago. Thus, The Winter Sea has two narratives: McClelland in present day Scotland, writing her novel; and McClelland’s novel, a work in progress detailing the Jacobite uprising in 1708 Scotland. Such a narrative format is fodder for narrator Rosalyn Landor, whose performance skillfully embodies the complex mind of a writer. Her voicing of Carrie is investigative, creative, imaginative, and discerning. Her deep, expressive tone allows her the versatility to voice the myriad supporting characters, both male and female, past and present. The dreamlike writing sequences of McClelland writing her novel really sing under Landor’s rendering. With Landor as a guide, it’s easy to lose yourself in The Winter Sea’s journey through Scotland and through history.
The Winter Sea confidently flourishes in the intrigue surrounding this political uprising, while also offering the accommodating narrative device of delivering the story through the mind of a writer. Kearsley and Landor together remind us that history does not have to get bogged down by the facts, but instead can be thrilling, suspenseful, and imaginative, especially when presented from a unique perspective. Suzanne Day
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...
Please note: This novel has also been published under a different title: Sophia's Secret.
Please note, this title is the original recording, which is now known as Sophia's Secret
©2010 Susanna Kearsley (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Rosalyn Landor provides delightful Scottish accents for many of the characters Carrie meets inside and outside her novel....Landor adds a poetic edge to her storytelling while at the same time giving a dreamy aura to the historical side of the story." (Audiofile)
Avid reader and listener, I enjoy history, popular science, suspense and legal thrillers with a dash of epic fantasy thrown in for flavor.
The story is relatively well crafted, holding an inner coherence. However, this book was suggested as an "Outlander" equivalent, which sadly, it's not....
This is a 3-for-1: two romances and an historical novel. Its proportions are about that, 2:1. Ms. Landor does her usual great narration, which, for me, saved this book (I am a romantic but not a romance reader). Good fluff with a bit of history thrown in.
I'm not a huge fan of romance novels but I like historical fiction and this book gave me both in good measure. The reader was superb in speaking with an authentic Scottish accent that is so much a part of the Scottish experience. And the female lead was intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful, and discerning - all good qualities that enhance a love story. Thank goodness the male characters were presented in mostly the same fashion, not an idiot among them! I don't think anyone who enjoys a good love story would be disappointed in purchasing this book.
I love books!
Set in NE Scotalnd in the early 1700's, the author wrote the story in a different kind of way. She went in present day to Petershead where the Slains castle ruins still stand. She rented a cottage in the town and imagined herself as to how it would have been 300 years ago going from prersent to past. She pulled it off. Throw ini the story of the Scots against each other, throw in the English and Friench, a little romance and it had the makings of a good tale. Not a thriller at all it still kept my attention, I enjoyed it.
The Winter Sea ??? Susanna Kearsley
Audio version performed by Rosalyn Landor
Two love stories for the price of one. What could be better for an engrossing summertime book? There is even the cooling benefit of the harsh coastal weather of Scotland in Susanna Kearsley???s The Winter Sea.
Carrie McClelland is a successful writer of historical fiction. She has begun work on a novel about the 1708 Jacobite uprising. On a trip to Scotland to visit her agent she begins to ???hear??? the voices of characters insisting to have a place in her novel. As Carrie???s novel is written with the help of her writer???s trance and the voices of her characters, she is also drawn into her own fulfilling new relationship.
That synopsis makes this book sound simplistic and trite. I did not find it to be so. The historical setting is rich and accurate. The characters are well developed. The ease of Carrie McClelland???s ???writer???s trance??? connection to the memories of her ancestor must be every novelist???s dream, but I did not find this one fantasy element to distract from either of the stories. The dual love stories are of the bitter sweet, but mostly happily ever after variety. Romantic, but not graphic, I would have no trouble sharing this book with a young person.
Rosalyn Landor performanced this book. She did a wonderful job with the varied accents and with creating distinct male and female characters. Overall, she might have been a bit over-dramatic, bordering on maudlin. However, the book does have a sweeping theatrical atmosphere, so some melodrama may have been unavoidable.
I love clean books of all sorts. Love mysteries, fantasies epic to kids stories, fairy tales, romances, humor, and historical fiction
The worlds that this writer tells of, the past and present are so real and woven together lovingly. The descriptions were so vivid, I felt I could just have walked into them and seen everything they saw. Beautifully written! Romantic, but not trashy. She had me crying and laughing! This is a very moving tale that though dramatic and tragic in parts has a truly joyful ending. I loved it. I particularly enjoyed the family history tie in. I haven't read much historical fiction. I prefer fantasy and adventure stories. I do love mysteries and romances without smut. This has a bit of mystery, a good dose of romance and plenty of history woven in. I am definitely recommending that my mother read this next. She will love it, so will my daughter and my sister. This one is a keeper.
The descriptions say this this book is historical fiction, which I love. Instead, it's a thinly disguised romance novel, not much removed from a standard bodice ripper. After about 3 hours, I couldn't take it anymore and stopped listening. There were two others reasons to stop listening: the narration and the slow movement of the plot.
The narrator does her best to duplicate a heavy Scottish brogue, to the point where most of the dialogue spoken by the father/landlord is unintelligible. While her efforts are perhaps laudable, they were extremely annoying to the ear and deprived the listener of the benefit of the character's observations.
And it's really a slow book. After 3 hours something should happen to pique the listener's interest. It didn't.
Generally, I try to finish books, if for no other reason than the purchase itself. Not this one. It fell off my iPod as comfortably as an ill-fitting pair of jeans.
Just a book fool.
Winter Sea is well written and very much a Historical Fiction. I liked this book but really only liked it. The story really drags... I would say in the middle but actually it feels like it drags the whole time.
The ending was great even though you are convinced the whole time you are not going to like it. I implore you to read this book if for no other reason then it is a prerequisite for Firebird by Susanna Kearsley and Firebird is amazing.
All in all Winter Sea is a good passer of time, has a great narrator, and is a MUST read series so far!
I just Love the Allure of a Great Romance...a Pair of Rose Colored Glasses...some Fine Wine, and a Subscription to Audible...
The Winter Sea has now become one of my favorite books of all time, ranking right up there with Jane Austen. The characters are so special, and the reader develops a relationship with each as their tale unfolds. I found myself captivated.
I loved the two stories: the narrator's, and then the historical characters in which the narrator wrote, and felt involved with each, respectively. I must say, that the ending took me by surprise, and I am so happy with the direction and fashion the author, Susanna Kearsley, brought the stories to each conclusion.
I wept...not teared up, but actually wept at a couple of parts. Interestingly, I usually avoid anything that will evoke that kind of emotion, as I always prefer to "have fun", but, this story was gripping and moved me from the beginning. It was worth the cry.
I highly recommend this book to anyone. Enjoy!
Science writer in America's heartland
This book surprised me. I bought it largely to hear the author's descriptions of Scotland and the sea -- and they are beautifully crafted -- but the plot-within-a-plot immediately captured me. As a writer, I wondered if I could enjoy a book about a writer writing a book. The answer in this case is a resounding yes.
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