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 liked what the author was trying to do - jump back and forth between the present and long ago.
Susanna has a lovely way of telling her tale and blending the two different worlds together.
I liked when the brother walked in and she was wearing her lover's shirt. He finally got the picture and realised he wasn't in it.
Now and then
There was a bit too much history in it for my liking. I thought the story suffered a bit as it was made to fit in with actual events - something which as a reader, I didn't care that much about as I was into Susanna's version and story.
I listened to about 4 hours of audiobook (10 chapters) which is about 120 pages of the 544 page book. I was bored. I couldn’t stay interested.
The chapters alternate between 1st person Carrie who is a present day author writing a historical fiction book set in 1708 Scotland. The other chapters are 3rd person telling the story she is writing. In the 1708 story some characters are factual others are fictional.
In the Carrie chapters we watch her and hear her thought processes as she is writing. Her muse is the cottage she is renting. The words come to her at night. She writes details about how the castle looked back in 1708. She makes up a name for a captain. Later she is mystified when she sees a scale drawing of the castle which agrees with what she made up. She wonders how she did that. She is also surprised to learn that the made up captain name was an actual captain back then.
The Carrie story was more interesting than the 1708 story. Carrie gets negative vibes from one man and positive vibes from his brother. The 1708 story was hard to pay attention to.
Rosalyn Landor did a fine job.
Narrative mode: alternating chapters 1st and 3rd person.
Genre: historical fiction.
I feel like I listened to two books. I like the way the two stories were intertwined. I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the story. It has lead me to do my own reading on the subject. For you romantics, you get two love stories for the price of one!!! ENJOY!
I loved her other book, Firebird, but this one REALLY disappoints. It's sooooo boring! You keep waiting for the big reveal, the aha, the.....something!! Instead, it just plods along...zzzzzzzzzzz.....zzzzzzzz. Seriously, the Firebird was great. This was a waste of a credit.
Nothing ever really HAPPENED. I think lovers of Outlander or other Jacobite stuff will think this is like that. No. Not by a long shot. Have I mentioned how b-o-r-i-n-g it is? Zzzzzzzzz.
I like this narrator, too bad the story was boring.
Ummmmm, the narrator?
Listen to the Firebird. Skip this.
I'm not one for details of history but the way this book is written captivated me from the beginning. The overall story, with it's ties between the present and past, portrays a love story like none I've ever heard! Must read!
After a long, slow start, The Winter Sea turned out to be an incredibly beautiful story. Part of my issues with the first half is that the pace is so slow, the rest lays on the narration. I did eventually warm to her, but her take on the Scot accent was not good (particularly when I consider what the amazing Davina Porter can do with a Scot).
The Winter Sea contains a story within a story —with present day Carrie's heroine writing the story of her ancestor Sophia. I actually preferred Sophia's tale, particularly since it was set around the time of the first Jacobite rising attempt. Sophia's story was heartbreaking, interesting, and bittersweet. Be on the lookout for an amazing twist. The happy tears were flowing freely. ;-)
The Winter Sea was a lovely story, and has pulled me as a fan of Susanna Kearsley. If you decide up read this one, take your time. It's worth it.
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