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)
I loved this book...It was interesting and soothing to listen to. I liked how the author described the writing of the book and what went into the creation of the story. I found the narration to be slightly distracting as the English accent seemed a bit contrived, but I was impressed with the narrator's ability to do different voices for the different characters. I am off to "read" Susanna's next book!
The two parallel love stories are beautifully written. The performance is fabulous. The ride through history is interesting. I listened to it three times through.
I really loved this story. I don't really like most romance novels because I find them too superficial with not enough depth to the characters, details of the locations or historical accuracy. This novel was different, I loved the historical details and the characters were wonderfully described. I also loved the narrator she did an excellent job with each of the characters and it was always clear when it was the past or present time. Some narrators enhance a story and Rosalyn Landor definitely did.
The story flowed along as though the author had actually lived it. Her characters were very real and quite believable in both centuries. The descriptions of Scotland and the sea made me wish I was actually there.
The only other book that affected me in this way is the Highlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. The stories are different, but the moving through time plots, while handled differently, were both very effective.
The reader made more of the descriptive details come through. I frequently miss these when reading myself. Her voice effectively gives the characters life.
I too looked at this book as it was promoted for "someone who likes D Gabaldons" work and I'm happy I took the chance on this one.
The narrator did a wonderful job and I think she captured the essence of both Carrie and Sophie. I also think she did a great job with all the various male voices, so much so that I am actually on the Audible site double checking if there was more then just the female narrator and was inspired to write a review.
The story has just the right balance of Carrie's modern day tale and the historical story from Carrie's "novel".
Now I am greatly looking forward to Susanna Kearsley's newest book.
I was really looking forward in listening to this book. It was called the next "Outlander" (which I loved). However, it didn't come close. The book goes back and forth so fast and so often it's hard to keep up. Buy the time you figure it out, the story has switched back. I'm sorry but I wish i had the time back that I spent listening to it.
Why hasn't it been pointed out anywhere that this is the exact same book as Sophia's Secret. I have purchased both and am very disappointed that I got one book for the price of two.
The narrator spoke in a deliberate, careful, plodding way and the story was not good enough to make up for it. Her Canadian/American accent was pretty bad. Perhaps it would have been okay to read. I kept trying and then had to stop because it was sounding more and more like a not so great romance novel and less and less like a historical novel or even a good historical romance. I don't understand the high reviews.
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.
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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.
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