Nisareen's Reviews > Sophia's Secret

Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley
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May 14, 2012

it was amazing
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Read in May, 2012

A wonderful atmospheric dual time slip novel set in past and present Scotland. Author Carrie McClelland travels to Cruden Bay, Scotland, to do some research for her upcoming novel about the 1708 Jacobite rebellion, to restore the exiled James Stewart to the throne in place of his half sister Queen Anne. Inspired by the scenery and the ruins of the castle at Slains, Carrie rents a cottage form Jimmy Keth, befriends the locals and starts her book.

Events take an unusual turn when she starts to have strange vivid dreams of her ancestor, Sophia Paterson; a woman who was initially no more then a name in Carrie's family tree but whom she comes to know also played a part in the uprising. She's skeptical at first but as the days go by, and the dreams intensify, Carrie comes to realize that Sophia's story is not a figment of her writer's imagination, and that she is somehow 'channelling' the memories of her ancester. As the book progresses the two women's lives begin to mirror each other's in strange and unsettling ways.

The book moves seamlessly back and forth between past and present and I found myself equally invested in the characters in both time periods. I have a special fondness for Scottish history but my knowledge of the Franco-Scottish agenda in 1708 and the subsequent Jacobite risings was very limited before I read this book. It's apparent that the author went through alot of trouble to bring an accurate account as possible. Other highlights for me was the delightful Doric dialect spoken by Carrie's landlord Jimmy Keith who I found extremely endearing. A wonderful escapist read and my second favourite Kearsley novel, The Rose Garden being my first.
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