The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when Alex, eleven at the time, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. After their mother’s suicide, the girls’ father shut down emotionally, leaving Alex responsible for caring for Colleen, then eight, and little Riley, just four. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. Decades may have passed, but the unresolved trauma of their mother’s death still looms over them creating distance between the sisters.
Then on a March night, a storm rages near the coast of northeastern Massachusetts. Alex sits alone in an old farmhouse she inherited from a stranger. The lights are out because of the storm; then, an unexpected knock at the door. When Alex opens it, her beautiful younger sister stands before her. Riley has long been estranged from their family, prompting Colleen to hire the private investigator from whom they’d been awaiting news. Comforted by her unexpected presence, Alex holds back her nagging questions: How had Riley found her? Wouldn’t the dirt roads have been impassable in the storm? Why did Riley insist on disappearing back into the night?
After her mysterious visitation, Alex and Colleen are determined to reconcile with Riley and to face their painful past, but the closer they come to finding their missing sister, the more they fear they’ll only be left with Riley’s secrets. An unforgettable story about grief, love, and what it means to be haunted, The Ocean in Winter marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in fiction.
Elizabeth de Veer has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has been admitted to writing residencies at the Jentel Artist Residency, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is a member of several writing groups, including Grub Street Writers’ Collective of Boston, the Newburyport Writers’ Group, Sisters in Crime New England, and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. She lives in a small town in Northeast Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.
The Ocean In Winter is a spell-binding family drama and I enjoyed it more than I expected to! 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊 It's narrated by three sisters.... Alex - tired of being the responsible eldest. She's taken care of her family since the age of 11 when their mother committed suicide. She's planning to move to India, hoping for a more fulfilling life. Colleen - has a successful husband, two kids and a gorgeous house but her life begins to unravel when her husband moves out. Riley - a troubled model in New York who's struggling with addiction.
Very character driven, which I LOVE but like most character driven books it does mean the pace is on the slower side. It has hints of the supernatural and some really stunningly beautiful writing.
** thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy. Available July 6th
Everyone is set adrift with the death of a family member, but if that person was your mother or your wife and she committed suicide, it can set your life going in directions that you never dreamed of.
Such is the fate of the three sisters, Alex, Colleen, and Riley. All three have grown to womanhood without the benefit of their artistic mother. Their father did his best, but he tended to be reclusive and withdrawn, never really sharing or actually knowing his wife's past. And that's where the mystery comes to play. Each of the girls have been hit with emotional, heart breaking times that they need to come to terms with, and why they ask? Why did their beautiful artistic mother kill herself in the family bathtub, leaving her oldest daughter to find her? Were these girls not good enough for her mother to love and not leave?
Alex, the oldest, left at the tender age of eleven, is destined to mother her younger sisters. Grown to womanhood, she became an ER nurse but recently quit her job, after finding out some devastating news about her health. Traveling in India, looking to get lost or maybe find that elusive peace, she learns she has inherited a house near the ocean, from a woman she met and struck up an acquaintance with on a bus. Forced to return home, to deal with this development, she gets in touch with her sister, Colleen, who is starting down the painful path to divorce. Always, the sister who seemed to have it all, the two children, a successful husband, and a gorgeous home, she knows in her heart that this was inevitable but the hurt is only compounded when her home suffers a terrible fire.
Then there is the youngest sister, Riley, beautiful, once being a successful runway model. Her life is in shambles as she travels the dark road of drug and alcohol addiction, a very dark road indeed where she has cut herself off from her sisters and travels the roadway to destruction alone.
The house Alex inherits is pretty ramshackle but within its walls, Alex hears things, voices and then footsteps that add a sense of the unknown. Yet, she attributes it to other earthly things. When a terrible storm ravages the East Coast, Alex once again is alerted to the strange goings on in her home. Suddenly, Alex hears a knock on her door. Opening it to Riley, Alex is taken with a million questions. How did Riley know where she lived, how did she arrive in the midst of a storm? They speak and Riley shares with Alex a terrible secret, but questions surge as Riley leaves asking Alex the final question of "If she could would she would save a child?"
This tale of love, loss, grief, and connections was one that could shatter your heartstrings. It was saga of family turmoil that hinted on a number of occasions of the supernatural, a world of spirits that try to alert one to danger, the past, and the way forward.
Although somewhat lengthy, I enjoyed this story and hope this new author, Elizabeth de Veer, continues to write as there was much poignancy to her words.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this story due out July 6, 2021.
Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4
This novel about three sisters forever enveloped in the trauma of their mother's suicide during their childhood was very slow in the beginning. The author takes us from the prologue to all the events that occurred in the weeks leading up to the climax of the story. You have oldest sister Alex who is called back from India to take care of the drama at home, middle sister Colleen who has decided to avoid the downfall of her marriage by looking for their youngest sister, Riley. Unfortunately, Riley doesn't want to be found and appears to be on a downward spiral. Can her sisters bring her back into the fold or will Riley be consumed by her secrets?
My rounding up to 4 really comes because of the way the story evolved as we came closer and also surpassed the events of the prologue. I found myself empathizing with each of the sisters as they all alternate chapters. The Ocean in Winter is a promising debut from an author that will no doubt be on our bookshelves for years to come. Perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah, Barbara Delinsky, and Diane Chamberlain.
Goodreads review published 25/07/21 Publication Date 06/07/21
I have reviewed this novel for New York Journal of Books where it will be posted the evening prior to the release date.
"The Ocean in Winter" by Elizabeth de Veer Blackstone Publishing July 6, 2021 978-1982674649 Contemporary Fiction
“The Ocean in Winter is a compelling, well-written debut . . .”
The Emery sisters grow up in the small northeastern town of Amesbury, Massachusetts, with their father George, who is a postal worker, and their mother Suzanne, an artist. A normal, middle-class family, they are close and considered happy. That is, until one day when the girls return home from school, and Alex discovers their beloved mother drowned in the bathtub. At age 11 and the oldest, she shields younger sisters, Colleen, eight, and the baby Riley, age four, from this tragedy.
This is when the family crumbles. George withdraws leading Alex to take their mother's place, caring for her siblings and keeping house. Everyone is bewildered, not able to comprehend why their mother would commit such a cowardly act. The thoughts that run through the girl's minds are: Did we do something to make mom do this? Does she no longer love us?
Twenty-five years pass, and the sisters now live separate lives. Alex is a nurse living her dream working in a hospital in India. Unencumbered by a husband or children, she spends long hours helping those severely ill or poverty-stricken, believing she is making her way in the world. When she learns she inherited a house in Newburyport from an elderly woman who befriended her years ago, she departs from India to finalize the paperwork, planning to sell the property and return to India. Upon landing back in the States, she heads to her father's house, dismayed to see how withdrawn he is as well as now a hoarder of junk. Alex settles in her newly acquired property determined to fix it up so she can move on with her life.
Colleen lives not far from their dad who still resides in the house where the girls grew up. Married with two preteen children who are her total focus, her life is in chaos when Eric, her lawyer husband, asks for a divorce. Feeling a failure, she wonders what her future will bring. Meanwhile she takes refuge at a friend's beach cottage while the kids stay in their dad's condo.
Riley’s life is in New York where she experiences the hectic pace as a model gracing the covers of magazines, appearing in commercials and ads, and parading the runway in the latest fashions. Working tirelessly, she becomes dependent on opioids to keep her going.
Though the siblings are miles apart geographically, they are close in heart, yet after months pass without any communication from Riley, Colleen becomes nervous. Has Riley lapsed into drugs again after having been in treatment? As suspicions lead to the worst-case scenario, Colleen consults Alex:
"'It's been three months,' I say. 'Letters, emails, phone calls, texts, messages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Give me one of those, and I'm with you, yes, things happen. I get it. Two weeks? Three? Sure. But it's been months.' I pause to take a breath. Alex does not meet my eyes, which tells me that she's beginning to understand. 'Plus, there's something I didn't tell you. A couple of years ago, she had a drug problem.'
"'I saw her in New York. She was acting strangely, and she finally told me that she had just finished rehab. She asked me not to tell you and Dad.'
Fearful Riley may be using again or would maybe opt for their mother’s solution, Colleen contacts her Riley’s apartment manager and learns she is no longer a tenant. She then hires a New York investigator, hoping he can locate her baby sister. They keep in close contact, and Colleen is relieved to learn he locates her sister, and she asks him to approach Riley to see if she is okay.
When a major storm is predicted for the Northeast, Alex is concerned if her old house will withstand the heavy winds. The weather becomes eerie, and the power and cell service cut off, leaving Alex disconnected from the rest of the world. After hearing a knock at the door, she discovers Riley on her doorstep.
"The Ocean in Winter" is a compelling, well-written debut with the title being more than significant for this riveting novel as it illustrates the emotions of grief, pain, and even happiness which are often synonymous with the cold, destructive, and mysterious sea.
I love books about sisters. I am the oldest of three sisters and know that no matter what is going on in our lives, there is a special connection between us. The Ocean in Winter is a beautifully written book about three sisters who are working to connect with each other after several years of estrangement.
Alex was 11, Colleen was 8 and Riley was 4 when they came home from school one day and found their mother dead in the bathtub. Their father basically checked out from life and it was up to Alex to be the mother for the two younger girls and Alex and Colleen had to raise their younger sister. It's 25 years after the suicide and it has affected all of their lives in different ways. Alex was a ER nurse who quit her job after getting some devastating health news to go to India to help in a clinic. She got called back home almost immediately to take ownership of a house that a virtual stranger left to her. She plans to fix up the house and sell it so she can return to India but life has other plans. Colleen has two children and she thought a happy marriage until her husband told her that he wants a divorce. She has spent her entire married life taking care of her family and isn't sure what her life will look like after the divorce. Riley is a famous model who has been in magazines and modeled all over the world and lives in NYC. It's apparent right from the beginning that she's struggling with drugs and the deeper her addiction goes, the more difficult it is to keep a job and apartment. Plus she is haunted by a secret that she won't tell her sisters. Alex hasn't seen Riley in almost seven years and Colleen is desperate to find her but her calls go unanswered and her letters are returned. Colleen is concerned enough to hire a private investigator to find her sister. All three sisters have unresolved trauma from their mother's death that has created a distance between them but they all know that they need each other to help them recover.
This is a beautiful novel about grief and love and what it means to be a sister. This novel is so insightful and so well written that I was amazed to find out it was a debut novel for this author. I can't wait to read her future books.
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
Three sisters. Bereaved and traumatised by their mother’s suicide when they were just children, the experience united them in a close bond that is put to the test when the youngest, Riley, disappears off the radar and they are desperate to find her. Now grown up, they each have their own demons to struggle with as they try to make sense of their early loss. I found it a compelling, insightful and very well-written exploration of sibling love and loyalty. The introduction of a supernatural element didn’t sit comfortably with me in a novel which is very much grounded on the harsh realities of adult life, but I felt the author incorporated it seamlessly into the narrative and I managed to accept it. It’s a haunting – literally – tale about the bonds that bind sisters and which can help them navigate an often difficult and painful world. A really absorbing read.
3.5 Stars This novel focuses on the lives of three sisters whose mother committed suicide 25 years earlier. Alex, the eldest, is a nurse who is travelling in India but is called back home when she inherits a ramshackle house. Colleen, the middle sister, is a devoted mother whose marriage is disintegrating. Riley, the youngest, is a model in New York; she is dealing with a number of issues but has cut herself off from her family.
Chapters are alternated among the three women, each of whom narrates in the first person. It is obvious that the trauma of their mother’s death continues to impact them. Alex had to look after her sisters because their father became emotionally detached after their mother’s death; she comments that “I don’t pursue the things I love because my family needs me.” Colleen focuses on her children so much so that her husband feels unneeded and unwanted; he tells her, “’I know that’s because your mom wasn’t there to take care of you when you were growing up.’” Riley describes herself as “Pretty and damaged, I am the daughter without a mother.”
Obviously, the book examines a number of heavy subjects: mental health, sexual abuse, addiction, suicide. Though it focuses on the long-term effects on survivors of suicide loss, there is also a great deal of compassion for those who choose suicide. They are not portrayed as selfish or manipulative or melodramatic, but as victims of depression and despair.
The novel begins slowly and that slow pace negatively affected my enjoyment. Though gradually I became more interested, I remained bothered by the author’s tendency to explain everything. For instance, she tells us that “Addiction changes a person from the inside out. The poisoned urgency of narcotics takes over every conscious part of human intent until the person they used to be almost evaporates.” Also, the reader is told that “The experience of sexual abuse in childhood does not end with the conclusion of the abuse. It’s trauma. It gets replayed over and over a million times in the mind of the survivor. It makes feeling safe ever again difficult or impossible; survivors turn to drugs to blot out the memory.” These didactic passages are unnecessary.
There are also some events that do not ring true. Alex inherits a house from someone she barely knew? Letters are used too often to manipulate plot: Alex “misses” a letter, a retired mailman doesn’t open his mail, and an unopened letter explains so much in the end? A lawyer would allow his home to be uninsured? The private investigator Colleen hires to find Riley doesn’t always seem to behave in a strictly professional manner.
The book does end on a positive note which, given the title, I expected: “The Earth keeps turning, every day, every night, each time giving us the chance to start over. In the night’s darkest moments, we so easily forget that morning will come. We can’t stop it; it simply happens, just like spring follows winter, just as the tides of the ocean rise and fall.”
The Ocean in Winter does have some of the tell-tale problems of a debut novel, but there is still much to recommend it. I will certainly watch for Elizabeth de Veer’s next offering.
Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.
This is such a beautiful and eloquently written novel. I loved it! It’s about three sisters Alex, Colleen and Riley who lose their mother to suicide when they were very young. Each chapter is told in a first person perspective alternating between the three of them. Each coping with all that life throws at them in the best way they know how. Alex is a nurse hoping to go to India and use her skills to help the people there but her family always seem to need her and getting the chance to do what she wants for herself seems to come last. Colleen’s marriage is falling apart and raising two children comes with its own struggles. Riley is the youngest. She’s a model in New York. Her life isn’t nearly as glamourous as one would think. There a lot of topics that are very real in this book such as depression, mental health and drug addiction. There is also a lot of hope, love and determination. The dialogue is superb and so incredibly authentic. It was truly a deeply touching novel. There were a few times when the tears came on whilst reading. I hope there will be many more novels by Elizabeth de Veer.
I enjoy a good sister novel and this book delivered big time for me. We meet and follow three distinct young women as they navigate growing up with the trauma of their childhood always present. This book shows the strength of those sisterly bonds but also the limits. Motherhood, depression and other life trials must ultimately be faced alone but it does help to have a sister to share it all with. There is a wonderful sense of place throughout with coastal northeastern Massachusetts always in the background with its changeable weather as the setting for the haunting. The writing is excellent, even a bit poetic at times. I will read more from this author who is new to me. This is mostly a character driven novel and at times I found the introspection repetitive and annoying as if the author didn’t appreciate the reader’s memory for detail but it is earns solid four stars for an enjoyable satisfying read with a bit of suspense and drama thrown in. - Mary
A story looking at the relationship between 3 sisters, who are all very different and dealing with the trauma of losing their mum at a young age to suicide. I liked the ghosty elements to this and how some bits were written to cause apprehension which for someone who doesn't read anything remotely horror-like worked for me. On the whole, this was a captivating book and I enjoyed reading it but I feel like it could've been ~70 pages shorter. The ending kept dragging and I didn't enjoy the fact that everything was explained perfectly. I would have preferred if some of the ending was left up to the reader to decide.
I don’t like to give bad reviews but this book was just not for me. I failed to care about any of the characters and when about 50% in, the soap opera storyline went down a bad road with drugs and sex. I shut the book and said, nope, done. I sometimes feel the descriptions of the book is of a completely different one. I didn’t find any tenderness, wise, magical or beautiful scenes. The only thing I did find interesting was Alex’s life in India. I’m sure others may enjoy this story but I just found it shallow, filled with drama and like a soap opera. I want to thank Blackstone Publishing with NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC. Comes in with 2 stars.
I am one of 3 sisters. I have a daughter with the same name as one of the characters. This book called to me, and I got so much more than I expected. Beautifully written, it will pull you in from the beginning. What happens in our childhood will affect the rest of our life.
Three sisters experience a traumatic, life altering event early in their life. They move on as best they can…until life brings them all to a point in their lives that changes are forced on them. A Father doing the best he can, but not really knowing how to parent. Alex and Colleen growing up much too fast, mothering Riley and trying to find their own way with memories haunting them. Riley, the baby, unable to overcome what happened to her at an early age and what she is doing to herself. Each come to a point in their life where change needs to be made regarding marriage, job decisions and lifestyle.
This book deals with heavy subjects…addiction, mental health, marriage, parenting. It deals with family, love and loss. Don’t let the darkness of the subject matter put you off. It’s a beautiful story of family and coming together. Raw, honest, real….this story will rip your heart out and put it back together. I especially enjoyed the mysterious visitations. Grief is brutal and shapes our life.. past, present and future. I thought the writer did an excellent job of portraying the internal struggle of an addict and humanizing that struggle. The cover art was a perfect portrayal of this book. I look forward to this authors next book!
Thanks to Ms. deVeer, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC. Opinion is mine alone.
This is a story of a family that faces a tragedy and how this tragedy affects their lives forever. It is also how family secrets can change things across generations. But it also lets us know there is always hope. For me this was a very compelling read. It grabbed me on page one and never let me go.
Thank you so much to @tlcbooktours and @blackstonepublishing for this #giftedcopy ❤️ It was a book I didn’t know I needed.
This book got me. It brought up a lot of emotions and maybe a little bit of healing. Mental health has been talked about more and more in our country and I couldn’t be more grateful. I lost my Uncle to suicide, so any book that dives into that topic brings about a lot of memories and questions. I think it’s helpful though to find myself inside the mind of a character dealing with depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts. Like perhaps I have a little bit more of an idea of what he was going through and the choices he made.
Now the book itself. All three sisters are dealing with emotional baggage that came about after their mother committed suicide when they were children. Each has handled it differently, and been affected in ways that will mold them forever. It was heartbreaking and real, but also beautiful in ways. I will say it was a very heavy read, so be prepared going in.
It’s been a while since I read a novel that focused on family dynamics that did not involve love interests, or was a thriller, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Emery sisters will forever live in my soul. Novels like this one come once in a lifetime, and boy am I glad I’m here to bear witness.
Eleven-year old, Alex, finds her mother in a bathtub unresponsive. Even though she’s the eldest of the three sisters, she wanted to fall apart, but held it together to summon help for their mother. Unfortunately, Alex, Colleen and Riley were motherless. Their mother had committed the ultimate sin of taking her own life. What kind of mother would do something so heinous? What did her husband and children do to make her leave her family behind permanently? This is what Alex carried with her throughout her life, as did her sisters.
Riley, the youngest of them, was a fashion model living in New York and doing whatever her carefree life afforded her. Her family hadn’t heard from her in years. When the girls were younger, they made a pact when their mother killed herself. They would always stay close. Hmm, that’s nice in theory, but you try carrying it out when life begins to happen. Colleen, the middle child, has the perfect life. She’s married to a successful lawyer, has two great kids and a great house and a great marriage. But, was her life as perfect as she thought?
Colleen was worried. She hadn’t seen her baby sister in years nor had she spoken to her. She couldn’t understand why Riley wasn’t returning her calls or emails? She decides to take a trip to New York to go in search of her. Once she arrives, she soon discovers her sister is no longer living in the last known apartment address she had on her. The landlord refused to advise her of Riley’s whereabouts. So, Colleen does the next best thing. She contacts a private investigator.
Once the ink is dried and the money has exchanged hands, Nate, the P.I. sets out to find Riley, and he’s successful. When he reports back to Colleen that he’s found her sister, of course, she’s elated with the news. While Colleen was paying for private dicks to find her sister, she had no idea that Riley showed up at Alex’s doorstep. There was no way for her to have known this fact. Alex was so thrilled to have her baby sister back. There was so much for them to catch up on. Oh, there's only one problem—and that, readers, is where our story skyrockets!
This story unfolded like a poet’s words in motion. Each of the sisters’ stories were the fabric sewn together to make up the material of the plot. The Emery sisters were impacted by one vicious and selfish act—the suicide of their mother. Each of them was forced to carry a piece of their mother’s act that comforted them like a warm winter’s coat. de Veer did an amazing job in outlining the backstory leading you up to what these sisters endure. All I can say is have the tissue box handy because I cried like a baby in several sections of the book. You will see yourselves in these sisters’ lives. They will resonate so strongly with many of your souls. I was misty eyed a great deal throughout the story.
This was an incredible story of what can happen to those left behind after a suicide. You are going to go through the motions with this story. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride that is worth the trip.
A remarkably assured debut from author Elizabeth de Veer, The Ocean in Winter is the family-centered narrative of three sisters and their various attempts to cope in their adult lives after the suicide of their mother during their childhood. Alternating point of view chapters between the three show each in turmoil in different ways as they attempt to make sense of their lives and find answers as to what pushed their mother to take her own life. This is an honest and lyrical exploration of mental health, legacy, and the obligations of family that is at turns poignant and incisive. The main complaint I had personally was that certain sections seemed a bit overlong, leading to some plot points that were introduced and not entirely resolved by the end. However, this doesn't detract too much from the overall experience, and empathetic readers will find plenty to enjoy here.
**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Blackstone Publishing**
Given the subject matter of this book, I can't really say I 'enjoyed' it but I do think it's well-written and structured and an important book to read.
Three sisters, Alex, Colleen and Riley tell their stories in alternate chapters. Despite being adults in their 30s, they are all still struggling with the grief and mystery of their mother's suicide when Alex, the eldest, was just 11 years old. Each has handled it in different ways given that suicide remains a largely unspoken event filled with guilt, shame and regret by those who are left behind. The author approaches this topic with compassion and honesty and through the narrative insists that the subject of suicide must be brought out from the shadows, confronted and talked about. The way the narrative is resolved is also totally in keeping with the tone of this story so that the reader feels as if they have known these three women intimately.
The narrative explodes all those myths that still surround suicide: that the person who suicides is selfish, emotionally manipulative or melodramatic. It shows the devastating and inter-generational effects of suicide without blaming the person who feels they have no other option to escape their pain. Suicide is a major public health problem in many countries, particularly amongst indigenous communities in first world countries. Despite some progress now being made in dealing with depression as a society, we are still making little impact on suicide rates because, as De Veer illustrates so well in this novel, it is still not talked about publicly. In educating people about suicide from all sides of the equation in a relatable way, this novel is a must-read.
This is a story of three sisters, whose mother committed suicide when they were young, leaving them with a father who was too emotionally detached to offer them help to deal with the trauma. Each sister goes their own way when they are grown, living completely different lives, each one unique and unlike each other. The story is told from the three different perspectives of each sister. Though close when they were growing up, they grow apart in adulthood, each living completely different lives until years later they meet and try to reconcile their relationships and deal with the trauma that has been at the forefront of their lives for years. This is a sad story, but it is beautifully written. It is a story about love, loss, and suffering, and also about how tragedy impacts our lives not only when it occurs, but for long after. It is a story about sisterhood and repairing broken relationships. I enjoyed reading this story, it is very detailed, the writer does a great job of showing each sisters' distinct individual personality, bringing them to life. A wonderful piece of literary fiction, I give 4 stars and recommend this novel strongly. It is scheduled to publish July 6, 2021, so don't miss it. Thank you to Blackstone publishing and Net Galley for the free ARC e-copy of this novel, I am giving my honest review in return.
A beautifully written and poignant book about three sisters coping with the profound effect their mother’s suicide has had on their lives since childhood. Each struggling to cope the best way they know how, Alex can’t escape the fact her sisters and father always need her, Coleen’ s marriage is in trouble, and Riley ran to Manhattan to become a super model. But now Riley’s missing and out of touch for too long Coleen hires a Detective to find her. The story flows back and forth through time told with the voice of all three sisters which really works as It grabbed me from the first page. The author is very knowledgeable about the disease of addiction, mental health and suicide. You’d expect the book to be dark and depressing with the subject matter but it’s anything but, instead realistically capturing the love of three sisters in an uplifting and loving way. I highly recommend The Ocean In Winter.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the Kindle ARC. What an absolutely stunning debut novel! Ms. de Veer's book about three sisters - Alex, Colleen and Riley - is amazing. Very well-written full of characters with depth and feeling. When I saw this book offered on Netgalley, I knew it was the kind of book I enjoy the most and I wasn't disappointed. The story is dramatic without being overly dramatic and I felt as if I were reading about real people, not just people in a story. The three sisters have survived their share of heartache with the death of their mother while they were still young. Each sister takes a different path in life and faces her own challenges. The Ocean in Winter is perfect in describing real life while being highly entertaining, thoughtful and beautiful. I would rate this book on the level of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett - my favorite book of last year
Thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an ARC. The Ocean in Winter is out on 6 July 2021.
This novel follows three sisters, whose mother suicided when they were young. As adults they are each dealing with this trauma in their own way, and are uniquely affected by it.
I liked the concept of this novel, exploring longterm grief and trauma and how ideas from childhood spill over into adulthood. However, overall I found these themes to be let down by the execution. The characters were all fairly one-dimensional, and I found a lot of their dialogue to be quite forced and stagey. I found this to be a big letdown in a novel tacking such interesting themes. This novel is being marketed as literary fiction, but I would definitely describe it as contemporary, not lit fic.
What a heartbreaking read. This is a novel of three sisters growing up after their mother's suicide. Part ghost story, part tragic family rebuilding. There are three narrators, each of the sisters, and the author did an amazing job detailing each of their unique experiences. This novel was deeply touching and felt so real. Being a woman who has lost my mother, I felt like I could connect to their grief processes throughout the book.
At times this was a slow read but it could be that it was so emotionally heavy that it took me longer to process and move forward.
Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!
“The Ocean in Winter” by Elizabeth de Veer is a captivating family drama set in a seaside town in Massachusetts about three sisters Alex, Colleen and Riley, struggling to survive despite the lingering effects of childhood trauma and present-day challenges.
The book begins 25 years after their mother’s suicide and I really enjoyed that each chapter was dedicated to one sister and written in first person, giving the reader profound insight into their lives, relationships with each other, and how they are still dealing with the tragedy from their childhood. Jumping from sister to sister also helped to carry the story along, although this structure did make the book a bit repetitive at times. I enjoyed Riley’s story the most, perhaps because she was the most obviously affected by their mother’s suicide and her life ended up so differently from her the other sisters.
Overall, I thought the writing and story could have been a bit tighter—I thought there were too many unnecessary details and too many side storylines—but the book’s concept was intriguing, the character well-developed, and the setting beautifully described. I would recommend this book for fans of “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and “The Guest Book” by Sarah Blake.
I'm a seasoned and picky reader. But this one grabbed me right away, sucked me in like an undertow, and as I stampede toward the end I can't put it down! Ms. De Veer is really good at storytelling--she gets the details of the North Shore just right, and writes about three different complex characters at a level of understanding and sophistication that makes me wonder if she's remembering past lives. The premise is a little grim--adult children of a mother who killed herself, and how that echoes through their lives and choices and identity as adults--but it is about life, and how to face it, even when maybe you're not sure you want to. I know that sounds fun...but actually, it is. What really struck me is that it's just right--the pacing, the descriptions of everything from places to how it feels to walk in New England cold, the way it's hard to know what you think and how you feel even when you really want to know. The story is engrossing and the characters complex, each of them with likeable and unlikable aspects, understandable when you look at where they each came from. You know, like people. If you like novels, you won't be sorry you picked this up.
Eleven-year-old Alex lost her childhood in an instant the moment she found her mother dead from suicide. Even that extremely traumatic event might have not been so overwhelming if only her father had been strong enough to step up to his duties but, no, he retreated. The three children were pretty much left on their own with Alex taking on the role of mother to Colleen and Riley.
The three girls promised to always be there for each other but life didn’t cooperate and they drifted apart, each on a very different path. Then certain circumstances bring them back into each other’s orbits again and the deep-seated love is still very evident.
This is a character-driven story with limited plot and, as such, the pacing is much slower than I usually like but there is no shortage of feeling. In fact, emotions run high and numerous themes come into play including some that might be considered triggers (suicide, depression, drug addiction, emotional abandonment, etc.). Ms. de Veer handles all of this with grace and compassion beyond her status as a debut author.
I wasn't sure what to expect from The Ocean in Winter by Elizabeth de Veer. I'd requested it thinking perhaps it was a mystery or thriller (ie. my reading bread & butter). It's not, but that was fine.
de Veer cleverly plots this out in almost a circular way. We start near the end before moving back in time. The book unfolds from three sisters' points of view. The opening scene tells us a little of the history before we reach those events, but holds back on details to sustain the intrigue.
I very much enjoyed this book. It's beautifully written and it's certainly bittersweet. There's a sense of helplessness rather than hopelessness. It could be depressing but instead I felt a sense of resolution.
This book felt like a key part was missing..like it was just about there and we merged off somewhere and ended up some place completely different. What I disliked most what the multi generational depression ending in suicide. It seemed like an easy out for an author that didn’t work to make a better connection between characters. It lacked depth and for me felt very mundane. Again the whole book felt so close but never made it. I did not enjoy, and I don’t say that very often. There was one part of the book that I did like, when it was said that we needed to stop hiding and talking about “it” more referring to suicide and depression and I agree. I think this book could’ve done a better job at touching base with both.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Wow. This book hurt my heart. I cried through the last 40 pages or so. There’s a lot here: grief, love, strength and vulnerability. There are a ton of triggers: suicide, sexual abuse, addiction, Child Protective Services, infertility.
The book is really well written, with characters that evolve slowly and completely. It’s a character driven story and some readers don’t care for that because it’s not action packed. This never dragged for me. Good writing does that-makes you care enough to keep you turning the pages.