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)
This book was recommended as a substitute for a Diana Gabaldon book,, sort of a snack to hold ya over until the next Outlander book comes out. Well, the story happens in Scotland, the main character is a woman, and there is something like time-travel going on. But that's it.
It isn't that Winter Sea is a bad story but if writing like Gabaldon is the goal (and I'm not sure the author thinks so) it would have to sparkle at lot more to get my vote. I just couldn't care about the characters and felt the romance parts were just added in because it was expected.
This is the only Audible book I stopped reading. The story did not develop plausibly to me. I felt that some of the characters were there to further the story by....ummm....not exactly a lecture but sort of. But instead of the characters interacting to propel the plot, I felt like they appeared to plug a hole in the story that needed to be plugged.
The positive reviews written on this book made it sound so interesting. I just couldn't listen past chapter 6. It is rare for me to not finish a book. I was not at all interested in the boring details of how the author in the story writes the novel. The dialog between her and the other characters is boring. The lack of emotion in the relationships left me no desire to continue reading to see what happens. The historical fiction part of the story might have had promise but again the boring dialog between the characters and lack of emotion in their relationships left me not interested. I did not care for the narrator either. I found her to be dull and monotone.
Women who really like historical romance
The reader did her best with a disappointing book, but she sounds bored!
Most of them. Save the old guy who rents the cottage. At least he sounds real.
THIS BOOK TAKES A LITTLE TIME TO GET INTO, BUT ONCE YOUR IN YOUR IN AND THE END IS WORTH WAITING FOR. I WOULD HAVE LIKED A LITTLE MORE WRITTEN ABOUT (CARRIES AND GRAHAMS RELATIONSHIP OR ROMANCE BUT THE ROMANCE OF THE BOOK SHE WAS WRITING WAS GREAT.
I HAVE READ ALL OF THE OVERLANDER SERIES AND I ADORE THEM - THIS BOOK IS NOT THE SAME AS THE OVERLANDER SERIES WHERE I FELT THE CHARACTERS BECOME LIKE PERSONAL FRIENDS BUT I FOUND IT VERY ENJOYABLE - I CHOSE THIS BOOK BECAUSE I HAVE LISTENED TO THE NARRATOR BEFORE AND I LIKE THE WAY SHE PRESENTS. AT FIRST SHE IS A LITTLE SLOW IN THIS ONE BUT PICKS UP AND IS MOST ENJOYABLE TO LISTEN TO. OVER ALL I REALLY DID ENJOY THIS BOOK - LAUGHED AND CRIED
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The Winter Sea
"The Winter Sea Sunk"
I was anxious to hear this novel as it was promoted as an.."If you like Diana Gaboldonm you'll like....", but let me tell you, from the first 15 minutes I wanted to stop listening. The narrator was annoying as she had a melodramatic tone which combined with the clumsy prose to make a real stinker. In the "formula" of such a novel, it is necessary to introduce the inciting incident and the ensuing tension quite early; the crux of this novel got lost in the fog. Never had so much regret at wasting money on an Audible selection.
The narrator's use of the Scottish accent made the audio book ring true, but at times it was unintelligible. The back and forth from current times to historical events was hard to follow.
I like historical fiction. It was a nice summer read. The narration was not as strong in character development as I would have liked
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