Carol Kerry-green's Reviews > The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
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's review
Nov 15, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-suspense, romantic-suspense, 2013
Read in November, 2009

This is the second Susanna Kearsley novel that I've read and I can see her becoming a favourite author. The Winter Sea (or Sophia's Secret) is set in Scotland in and around Slains Castle near Aberdeen. Carrie McLelland an historical novelist is writing a novel about the 1708 Jacobite rebellion, but is finding it hard to get started, until on a visit to a friend she sees Slains Caslte, immediately she knows that she has been using the wrong background (trying to write the book set in the court of Saint Germaine) and hires a cottage in the village of Cruden Bay to write her novel. One story in this book is about Carrie's voyage of discovery as she writes her book, the other story is Sophia's, born in the late 1690s, she arrives at Slain's Castle by invitate of Countess Erroll to make the place her hom in 1707, the scene is set.

To Carrie, Sophia is just another fictional character there to tell the story of what happened in 1708; at least to start with. As the novel progresses and as Carrie writes she realises that the story is a part of her, Sophia Paterson, she'd chosen that name because one of her ancestors was called that and she was from Scotland, if from the West coast (Kircudbright) not the East Coast, but hey, she was only a fictional character. Except, research starts to through up references to characters in Carrie's novel, she comes across a letter that mentions a Mistress Sophia Paterson travelling to Slains to take up a place in the Countess of Erroll's household; other instances like this finally tell Carrie that what she is writing is what really happened to her ancestor and that she is writing from memory, genetic memory.

The novel (both of them) works really well, both stories are engaging and both involve a love story. The 1708 uprising never happened, King James set sail from France, but circumstances conspired against him and he didn't land then. The historical side of this novel is well researched and presented, as Carrie is portrayed as a historical novelist, you get a sense of how Susanna Kearsley as a novelist whose books are often set in both the modern world and a historical one researches herself.

A thoroughly enjoyable novel, one I'm sure I'll reread in the future

Re-read Nov 2011 Still cried at the end even though I knew what was coming.

Reread Mar 2013
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Reading Progress

1.0% "Just started this for the second time, reading it this time did a group read."
27.0% "I'm really enjoying this reread." 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Hannah (last edited Nov 18, 2009 01:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hannah Hey Carol,
Liked your review. I agree that Susanna Kearsley is an addictive author, and now one of my favorites also!

I've just ordered The Winter Sea from Amazon Canada and found Season of Storms off of's so hard to find Kearsley's books in the US).

Adored Mariana, loved The Shadowy Horses and liked Named of the Dragon.


Carol Kerry-green hi

Thanks for your comment. Hope you enjoy The Winter Sea when you get it. Still trying to get hold of her back catalogue - will be scouring 2nd hand bookshops and online!!

Like you, adored Mariana, and have just read Shadowy Horses, excellent! Haven't been able to get hold of Named of the Dragon yet, but will keep trying.


message 3: by Hannah (last edited Jul 18, 2010 08:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hannah Hi Carol!
Just got back from my beach vacation and I read The Winter Sea while there.

Loved, loved, loved it. Learned so much about the Jacobite rebellion of '08. Didn't know much about it before, and Kearsley's research seems very good. Now looking forward to one day finding a copy of The Splendour Falls and the release of her latest, The Rose Garden.

Carol Kerry-green So glad you enjoyed it Hannah, I loved it as well; so much info about the Jacobites and I loved the way she integrated this into the modern day story.

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