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)
Someone else performing the narration
I don't know...I couldn't finish it.
Not on your life.
I might buy the book and read it, but I couldn't finish listening to it. In fact, I didn't make it past the first chapter. Her voice, when not in character, is sooooo boring and condescending-ish. When she spoke in the character of the first person...it was better. But I just couldn't stomach any more after half an hour.
If the story had a better author and reader it could have been much better.
The entire line of this story just sounded like a "chick" story. It was all so phoney and self-important mesh of garbage feelings - much like a soap opera.
Maybe if the reader had performed it without nay of the stupid feelings written into the script. It would have been hard to actually improve this tripe.
I was to disgusted to do anything more than sample here and there after the third chapter. By comparison, only the worst book I tried to listen to since I started listening to Audiobooks.
should have been much better
The pace of the story dragged terribly. I couldn't fight it, so I used it fall asleep for weeks. Once the story picked up I could actually listen to stay awake, sort of.
A more sprightly tone of voice. But really it was a romance hiding as a historical novel, so it is par for the course.
Yes, that's why I fell asleep.
I could. Natasha Richardson.
The end of the story is actually good. They say in the book that you can't end sad, and they work with that in a good way. I wish the whole book had been as captivating.
It's a kind of sweet story, but too self-referential, and it lacks that strong female character that is so wonderful in Gabaldon. I wouldn't compare them at all, if they weren’t both (superficially) concerned with a sort of time travel and Scottish history. In my opinion, there is no comparison. But I'm not looking for Scottish history, but a strong story, set in history, that shows compelling emotion and exciting action. This story does not deliver.
And, as an aside, the heroine makes a decision in regard to her child that I find implausible at best, and disappointing at worst. As a mother, I don't think it's realistic. Unless the mother has her own self interest at heart, which is definitely not what the author seemed to be trying to convey.
Nothing happened for hours. Finally gave up after 3 hours, could not take it anymore.
It is difficult to write good first person narrative and Kearsley fails miserably at her attempt.
Most disappointing was the predictable formula and insultingly misplaced and misrepresented historical facts as she manipulated them into a formulaic romance novel. Also, her repeated use of similar descriptive terms and insertion of words such as Jacobite for effect rather than contextual significance.
The main narrator had a pleasant voice and it seems as if she was trying to put life into this boring tale. The male accents were the 'wee bit of fun' .The story developed so slowly that if the narrator matched the pace it would be post mortem!
Save your time and money. There are so many good books and so little time. A person who enjoys mindless twitter and fanciful gossip in the Harlequin Romance genre may love this book!!
Though this was well read, and I particularly liked the scottish voices, the story is weak. It is overly sentimental and romanticized. I found I could predict the author's next words as they tended toward the cliche and the obvious.
Freddy and Fredricka by Mark Helprin.
I quit part way through the second part as I was annoyed by the predictability of the authors lines.
This is easy to listen to and has a romantic appeal.
I would not based upon this novel. It's more Harlequin romance than historical fiction. Why do these writers tell you everything they are doing?
I stopped reading this type of patronizing romance novel stuff in my teens. I could predict every scene with the first few words of each sentence. It's strictly formulaic and reeks of the type of fantastical romance which create wrongful expectations for women. Bad, bad, bad.
I really liked the idea of this book but I have to admit that I was looking forward to it being over. The history details were good and I enjoyed them, I am a fan of European history so it was right up my alley but it was a bit of a slow read for me.
The ending was very predictable. It is easy to figure out what was going to happen to the main historical characters very early in the book. The author also sets the modern characters up very early so you know their outcome also. The voice of the main character seemed a little old to me. Maybe it was the slight accent but to me her voice just didn't fit right. Her many Scottish accents were well done though.
Overall a slow read and a bit predictable. Not something I would listen to again.
The history was interesting. I enjoyed that aspect of the book.
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