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Literary Friday: The Winter Sea

Friday, September 23, 2011


This week I read The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  My sweet friend Natalie recommended it to me, so I knew it was going to be a great read.  I was not disappointed!

The Winter Sea is unique because it is a novel within a novel.   Writer Carrie McClelland has been writing a book based on the " '08 " (or the failed Jacobite invasion that never was in 1708) that could have restored James Stewart to the Scottish throne.  She writes historical fiction, and has been researching the '08 in France, but unfortunately she is suffering from writer's block. She travels to Scotland for her agent's son's christening, and there she finds her muse.  Jane (her agent) lives conveniently only ten miles from the Slain Castle ruins.  Suddenly, Carrie's writer's block is gone.  The area around Cruden Bay, the village where Slains is located, becomes Carrie's new home while she writes her book.  Carrie lets a cottage by the sea, and she cannot write her novel quickly enough.  Her landlord's two handsome sons, Stewart and Graham, might be a wee bit of a distraction to the lass.

The novel within the novel focuses around Sophia, a distant relative of the Countess of Erroll, the mistress of Slains Castle.  Sophia moves to live at Slains at the invitation of the Countess. The household is instrumental in planning the Jacobite rebellion primarily due to the Countess's politics and the geographic location of Slains castle on the northeastern coast of Scotland.  Visitors and intrigue are a constant at Slains Castle: sea captains, soldiers, gentry, and spies all descend upon the castle waiting for news of James Stewart's return.  One young soldier in particular, John Moray, interests Sophia more than all the others.  Moray is a wanted man, but she falls in love with him anyway.  Sadly, duty calls, and he must return to France to fight for the crown.

Carrie decides to make the focus of her story Sophia, who is one of her ancestors, and her writing explodes from there.  Her dreams are filled with detailed scenes about Sophia and her life at Slains.  As Carrie finishes a chapter, she is stunned at the historical accuracy of her story. She thinks at first that she must have read these historical facts while doing research for her book, but eventually she is convinced she has never before in her life read most of the information.  Could Carrie be reliving the life of her ancestor through genetic memory? Susanna Kearsley brilliantly weaves both Sophia and Carrie's stories together into a seamless book.  I love her writing style, and this novel has two romantic story lines, plenty of history, suspense, and atmosphere.  I will definitely read more of Kearsley's books.

Have you read any good books this week?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill 


  1. Oh My I wish I had the time to read.
    I love your critic of these wonderful books
    you make them sound so intriguing of a read.
    I would love to curl up in a chunky knit sweater next to a roaring fireplace this winter and dive in to a stack of books.
    I haven't been able to finish a book in over 2 years.

  2. It seems I always have a book or my kindle in one hand and my laptop in the other. I am always looking for new authors. I will have to check this out.

  3. I am going to have to check this book/author out, sounds right up my alley. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, with plenty of drama and angst getting there. ;)

    Fabulous insights, you really pull me in with your reviews.

  4. Gosh Ricki I didn't have a second to read anything this week - so busy sewing. By the way - to answer your question from my blog - Julep tends to be more people friendly but Derby wants to be near me all the time - not so much sitting on my lap - just likes to keep the person who gives him food and treats in eye sight.

    all the best for a great weekend - Katie

  5. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that you like this book. I had seen it on Amazon awhile ago. I thought it seemed interesting but I didn't want to spend the money on an unknown (to me) author and couldn't find it at any of my libraries. It ended up being discounted for Kindle at the beginning of the summer, so I bought it--just haven't taken the time to read it yet. I will move it up on my "read soon" list.

    I have been playing all night on my library website because you can borrow library books on Kindle now. One of my favorite authors has a new book in her series that just came out and I was able to get it delivered to my Kindle--so great that I didn't have to request it, wait days, and then drive to the library to get it. The author is C A Belmond, and she writes a fun series that I just love. The first in the series is "A Rather Lovely Inheritance" if you are interested.

    Thanks for the great review. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Carole (Stapes)

  6. Sounds like an interesting book..
    I generally don't read much during the summer..wintertime reading is more my style.
    xo bj

  7. Thanks for the thumbs up on this book I will soon be ready for another one. This could be it. I loved "The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet" by Colleen McCulloch. It's her take on Mary Bennet (from Pride & Prejudice) and what happened to her after her mother died. It's great and Colleen depicts Mary as ahead of her time, keen to see the world on her own and turn her back on traditional protocol.

  8. I just checked my library for this author and I'm going by there to pick one of her older books! ♥ Thanks, girlfriend! ♥

  9. I have never heard of this author maybe a name I should look out for.

  10. It sounds like an amazing book! I can see why you enjoyed it!

  11. I told you you would love this book! Now you must read Marianna!!!

  12. I read Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith and Friendship Bread by Darien Gee. I'd recommend both of them.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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