Karen's Reviews > The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
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Jan 19, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-general
Read on September 01, 2008

When people have asked me to name my favourite Susanna Kearsley book, I always had the same answer: "The Splendour Falls, and my second favourite is The Shadowy Horses." Well, folks, I have a new answer now.

It took me some time to really begin reading this book, not because of the story contained within, but because I was worried about taking it down from my shelf. As a surprise birthday gift, Susanna sent me a hardcover copy, signed with her birthday wishes, last March, two months before the Canadian release date. I didn't want anything to happen to it, so I hesitated to take it anywhere with me.

Well, four days ago, I decided to buy the trade paperback version, and I've had my nose buried in it since. I literally just finished reading it a little over an hour ago, and I'm still grinning. You know how a Susanna Kearsley book draws you in, weaves the story in around you like a warm blanket, and you are reluctant to let it go? The Winter Sea does that and more.

In the tradition of Susanna Kearsley's novels, The Winter Sea weaves together the past and the present, deftly telling two connected stories at once, each story intriguing in its own right, but with the interplay between them making both stories so much more. It's probably particularly fitting that, as I struggle to describe this relationship, I am picturing the twisted strands that make up DNA.

There were so many things I enjoyed about this book, but I really hesitate to say too much, lest I ruin it for anyone else who has not yet had the pleasure of reading it. So here are just a few items:

* In The Winter Sea, Carrie finds herself experiencing déja vu, or echoes of what has come before. The dedicated Kearsley reader will find herslef experiencing that as well. For example, when needing to be alone with her thoughts, Sophia often goes to the stable to talk to the horses, as did Karen in The Gemini Game. There were several other instances where I found myself nodding at the vaguely familiar, but that is the one that stands out now.

* Her sense of characterization has really gotten stronger with each book. I don't know how she managed to keep the number of characters, past and present, straight, let alone make them live and breathe. With the exception of one character (who was evil personified, so perhaps he would have been one of those people in real life without much dimension anyway), these characters feel like "real people". You care about them, question their motives, disapprove, cheer them on … From the standpoint of someone else who writes, I am completely blown away by how much dimension is there.

* There are some thoroughly touching scenes, and I won't lie to you: I cried - four times. (Read the book and see if you can guess when.) Some authors set you up for the required tearjerker, and those ones never get me. My emotions resent being manipulated, and refuse to play. But four times I caught myself misting up, and one time it was so obvious, my dog thought I was wounded. That's saying something.

I can say, without any hesitation, that The Winter Sea is Susanna Kearsley's best work to date. She just keeps getting better.
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