Beyond Mr. Darcy: Romantic Historical Fiction discussion

The Winter Sea (Slains, #1)
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Group Reads > December 2013: The Winter Sea

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Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...


Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
Questions to think about while reading:

1. Why might Susanna Kearsley have utilized a story-within-a story device rather than use a straightforward telling of a historical novel? What does the character of Carrie McClelland, as a writer, add to the story?

2. How do the two stories, past and present, parallel one other? Do they? Is one of the stories in one of the time-periods more engaging than the other? Did Sophie Paterson's story hold your interest more than Carrie McClelland's?

3. What, if anything, do the heroines—Sophie and Carrie—have in common? How do they differ? Are the two women believable? In other words, does Kearsley do a good job of creating rich, well-rounded characters?

4. Talk about the men in both stories. Which of the contemporary men—Jimmy Keith, Stuie, Graham, or Angus—do you find most appealing? Does Carrie make the right choice at the end?

5. Kearsley incorporates a good deal of historical fact into her story. Do you find her historical research intrusive or overbearing? Or does Kearsley blend it seamlessly into her story line? What about her remarks in the book's afterword...have you read it?

Bonus Question:
Have you read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander? If so, do you find similarities? Two other books in a similar vein are A.S. Byatt's Possessionand Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches. If you've read either of these, or others, compare them to Winter Sea.


April (AJoyS) | 129 comments I was wondering if anyone predicted the ending.? I did and I am glad it ended this way! I will try answer some questions later it is late and I need to go to sleep!


Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
April wrote: "I was wondering if anyone predicted the ending.? I did and I am glad it ended this way! I will try answer some questions later it is late and I need to go to sleep!"

Just finished this last night. I predicted the ending but back-pedaled a little bit when Graham gave Carrie the Moray family history. I'm happy it ended the way it did though I hoped they would find some way to get Anna back.


Kathi (kkreilley) | 28 comments I also predicted the ending. I


Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
1. I think the story within a story device was used to bring historical details into the novel without overwhelming the historic story. I've read books before where they tried to introduce historical details naturally into the story and it just felt forced. Having Carrie researching the time period in the present makes the story flow better and allows Sophia's story to stand on its own.

2. I found both stories readable and did not feel that one overwhelmed the other. As far as parallels, I think that both Carrie and Sophia were women who were far from home but felt a connection with the castle of Slains and the people in the surrounding area.

3. Carrie and Sophia were both very strong, independent women who knew it was ok to lean on others at times. I found both women believable. I think all the characters in the book were well-rounded and believable.

4. I did like Graham the most in Carrie's story. He seemed like a very interesting, nice, and romantic guy. I found Stuart too much of a playboy.

5. As I said in question 1, I did not find the historical research too overbearing on the story. I like having historical details in my fiction as it makes it more believable.

Bonus question:
I have read both Outlander and A Discovery of Witches and there are elements from both books in this book. Outlander is set in the same time period and deals with some of the same Jacobite issues as this book does. A Discovery of Witches has some of the memory aspects in it.


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