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The Winter Sea ❰Read❯ ➵ The Winter Sea Author Susanna Kearsley – Thomashillier.co.uk History has all but forgotten

In the spring of , an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his cro History has all but forgottenIn the spring of , an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crownNow, 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 writeBut when she discovers her novel is fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only The Winter Epub / living person who knows the truththe ultimate betrayalthat happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her.

  • 544 pages
  • The Winter Sea
  • Susanna Kearsley
  • English
  • 01 February 2019

About the Author: Susanna Kearsley

Emma Cole, a pseudonym she used for one novel, Every Secret Thing, a thriller which at the time was intended to be the first of a trilogy featuring heroine Kate Murray, and which may yet be finished, some day Meantime, Every Secret Thing has been reissued under Kearsley's name, and the Emma Cole pseudonym is no longer in use.

10 thoughts on “The Winter Sea

  1. Katrina Passick Lumsden Katrina Passick Lumsden says:

    The five stars I've given this book reflects the high I'm still coming down from after having finished it. I think I might be in love with Susanna Kearsley. I read The Rose Garden earlier this year, and being a huge fan of time travel, devoured that shit like it was going out of style. Granted, it took me a little while to get into it because I found the pacing in the beginning to be kind of slow, but after getting over that bump in the road, there was no turning back.

    The Winter Sea was a whole different beast for me. This one grabbed onto my imagination much sooner and I found I really couldn't put it down. I read until I could no longer keep my eyes open, allowed myself four and a half hours of sleep, then woke and picked it right back up to finish it. I then experienced something I don't experience often; as anxious as I was to get to the end and find out what happened, I kept putting it down and waiting. It sounds insane, but I wasn't looking forward to the ending. Not because I feared it would be bad, but because I didn't want it to end at all. I wanted to just keep reading about Sophia and John and Carrie and Graham, and when it was finally over, I wanted to cry. There, again, was another complicated mess, as the ending left me feeling both happy and sad.

    The way Kearsley weaves her tales together is absolutely captivating to me, and I will forever be jealous of her ability to craft a compelling tale. I don't want to give anything away in this review, so I will just say that it was refreshing to see a hero from the past being selfish and claiming the woman he loves (who also loves him) instead of trying to spare her by keeping away. That path always leads to trouble in a story, so I've come to recognize it as a lazy and tired device.

    I might be a bit biased regarding this book considering my own genealogy traces back to several prominent Scottish families, but even those who have no Scottish in them at all should be able to appreciate the compelling, history-rich atmospheres Kearsley is capable of creating. The character voices are real and rich with emotion, the intrigue is well done, and Kearsley put in so many historical facts that this wonderful fiction also acts as a sort of history lesson. Let's face it, the conflicts between England and Scotland (especially those regarding the Stuart kings) are not easy to navigate, but Kearsley managed it with aplomb, giving life to these too-oft faceless historical figures so that it became a real story, not just dry facts from a history book. She will forever have my gratitude for helping to make sense of it all.

    If you like romance, I think you'll like this book. If you like history, I think you'll like this book. If you're into political intrigue, there might be something here for you. If you're a genealogist, this will speak to you. If you're a genealogist with ties to Scotland, you'll definitely like this. And if, like me, you're all of the above? Sit back, enjoy, and be prepared to want to read it again as soon as you're finished.

  2. L.E. Fidler L.E. Fidler says:

    i have what can only be described as a love-hate relationship with this book. i found so much of it to feel incredibly stupid and yet i couldn't put it down. explain that one to me!'

    warning: here there be spoilers.

    10 Things I Hate About You:
    1. the employment of a frame story - i'm pretty sure the conversation with her editor went something like this:
    sk: it's going to be two books in one! one story will be set in modern day and the other will be her historical novel!
    editor: oh, you mean, like a frame story?
    sk: no! it's two stories set in one!

    gah. okay, i get that she wanted to tell these two stories and intertwine them, blahblahblah. but what starts off being about carrie mcclelland, famed historical novelist, turns quickly into the tale of sophia, abandoned orphan extraordinaire. the carrie bits soon turn into annoying interruptions that comprise of key moments like putting the kettle on or ignoring her breakfast of toast so that we don't forget about her when the book voices take over.

    2a. protagonist as author - i HATE this device. so much. it frosts my cookies in ways you can't even begin to comprehend. it feels like a total copout - and, yeah, i get it, you write what you know, but this isn't her first book. you know what i'm sayin'?

    2b. protagonist as obvious incarnation of writer - this is sort of a subset of number #2. kearsley was a poli-sci major (or something) as is her carrie mclelland. at one point, there is a conversation between carrie and her scottish beau about professors and books and how she hates literature courses because she doesn't go in for all that analyzing and crap. well, screw you, too, carrie. some of us like that about our books and when you espouse your theories about how fiction is emotive and should not be subject to analysis, you isolate a population that does, in fact, read fiction for the little details.

    3. the writing - while for the most part, it's decent, there are moments that make the reader cringe. the conclusion of the sophia plotline ends with the trite sentiments of coming out of winter and finding their spring - or some such nonsense. gag me. i need that blatant bullshit like i need a hole in my head.

    4. you say DNA genetic memory, i say functioning schizophrenic - the sideplot with dr. weir is so underdeveloped and stupid, it's hardly worth mentioning. but i have to. carrie gets possessed by the ghosts of family past and they propel her to write her latest novel. she, being completely rational, sees a local doctor/history buff and asks him if her DNA could remember details about her ancestors' lives. no joke. you know what? the woman claims to hear voices, claims that the voices possess her and tell their stories through her literature. that doesn't sound like genetic memory to me. just sayin'.

    5. what's in a name - at one point, the editor in the book points out that there are characters who share the same name and that carrie should change the names to avoid confusion. this appears to be some sort of bizarrely meta moment that kearsley uses to explain why she isn't changing the names. there are two kirstys, two grahams, a stuart and many stewarts, several hamiltons, more dukes than you can shake a stick at...i don't know. i kept them straight, but i really wished i didn't need to expend the energy to do so.

    6. the graham factor - every heroine needs a hero. at least in historical fiction written for straight women. in the modern book, it's graham. and he's fine. but very one note. in fact, there is so little character development in the frame story at all that it is difficult to understand how carrie and graham end up together so damn fast despite some weird magnetic pull that exists between them. if a guy ever told me that i was his the moment he first saw me...i'd call the cops.

    7. where's the beef (part one) - there is a ton of history here, but it is presented tangentally. what i mean is, instead of witnessing epic battles and fights, all the historical information comes courtesy of history professors, history buffs, or conversations between characters. kearsley tells, she doesn't show. and perhaps she wanted to focus on the romances, instead, but that leads me to...

    8. where's the beef (part two) - the romances also seem to happen in long glances or brief conversations. she skirts over the sex, the birth, and, well, the love. you know what isn't really romantic to me? when characters wake up next to someone, get up, get dressed, and go to work. sorry. doesn't really do it for me.

    9. what the dickon? - when i was little, my all-time favorite book was The Secret Garden. i ate that shit up. and i loved dickon, but i couldn't understand half of what he said because of his thick, indecipherable, regional dialect. everything was wick. and there were lots of vowels and apostrophes. now, imagine a book where every other character is a dickon, not in characterization, but in language. and you'll ken fit i say.

    10. incest is...best? - so...in the final moments of the book...after a predictable conclusion to both tales, by the way...carrie is lying in bed next to grahamcracker and thinking about how his steely grey eyes remind her so much of moray's...and then she puts it all together in the creepiest a ha! moment i've read in awhile. sophia and moray have a daughter which sophia leaves behind at slains, a little girl who thinks she is the daughter of a fishermen, who has, presumably her own children and her own line of descendants. then, she thinks about her own fate - how moray became mcclelland and how they reproduced and had their own descendants as mclellands. and dawn breaks over marblehead and she thinks about the interconnectivity of their blood lines and SMILES joyfully as she cuddles up next to her kin. you know what wouldn't make me smile? realizing that i'm several generations back related to the man i'm sleeping with. genetics be damned; that shit is too close for comfort.

    Taming of the Shrew:
    1. I couldn't put this book down. I couldn't. I wanted to read it and could read huge chunks of it in barely no time at all. I can't explain it. Maybe my ancestors possessed me so that I could read this one faster than Carrie could write it?

    3 stars - a good book in some ways, but horribly flawed in others.

  3. Lisa Kay Lisa Kay says:

    Update: 5/17/12
    Rosalyn Landor has been nominated for the Audie Awards 2012 “Solo Narration-Female” category for her narration of The Winter Sea.


    Slains Castle as it was in all its glory...

    Slains Castle now...

    ★★★★☆ (This is a review of the audiobook.) I love to listen to the talented Rosalyn Landor read a book. Her elegant narration is perfect for this lyrical, atmospheric book. Ms. Landor does the accents nicely, especially the Scottish. She does a great job of the male and female voices in this sweeping, emotional novel, switching between the sexes seamlessly. Ms. Landor can be anyone, from an innocent young woman who feels like a fish-out-of-water, to a worldlier writer piecing together a historical account of memories of the Scottish Slains Castle and its inhabitants that haunt her. So, it was easy for one of my GoodReads groups to talk me into doing a “buddy read” of this one.

    This author can write! No doubt about it, it is superb, along with being well researched on the Jacobite uprising of 1708. However, I was expecting a romantic book, and I quickly realized this was deeper and darker than I was in the mood for, at the time; therefore, I set it aside for a while. Consider that when looking at my rating. Some of you are definitely going to give this book a five star rating.

    This is a “parallel” manuscript, telling two stories 300 years apart, alternating between a contemporary setting and the past. It wasn’t a lot of fun holding my breath, wondering which one was going to end badly (though I quickly figured it out). Then I held it again, wondering how bad it was going to be. Nevertheless, some of you will love the angst of that. Personally, I felt myself distancing myself from the heroine, as I didn’t want to get too attached. Still, I ended up crying.

    Wonderful book! So worth the listen.

    P.S. Also, while some people didn't, I liked the (view spoiler)[“ancestral memory” theory being innate in our DNA. (hide spoiler)]

  4. Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ says:

    4+ stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

    My recent read of Kearsley's Bellewether left me slightly dissatisfied, but I knew (and was assured by historical novel-loving friends) that she was capable of far more engaging storytelling, so I dove into her older duology of Jacobite-era novels, The Winter Sea and The Firebird. Both of these books ― in which Kearsley employs her favored dual-timeline approach with romance subplots, a paranormal element, and stellar historical research ― were thoroughly enjoyable.

    In The Winter Sea, Carolyn (Carrie) MClelland is a successful author of historical novels who is having trouble settling on the subject of her next book. She’s been staying in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, researching the role of the French in supporting the Jacobite uprisings in the eighteenth century, but can’t find the right approach for her novel. While driving to visit her agent in Scotland, she impulsively stops at Slains Castle in Cruden Bay, where the Earl of Erroll and his mother met with Nathaniel Hooke and other Jacobites to plan young James Stuart’s return to the English throne that had been held by his father, James II and VII, until he was deposed in 1688.

    Carrie finds the ruins of Slains Castle unexpectedly appealing to her imagination; she hears the voice of a woman in her mind saying, “So, you see, my heart is held forever by this place. I cannot leave.” Neither can Carrie leave: she promptly rents a cottage in the vicinity of Slains Castle and begins writing her novel at a rapid pace she’s never before achieved. She hears the characters in her mind and even dreams about them, and decides to name her novel’s main character Sophia. Carrie knows her McClelland ancestors had crossed from southwest Scotland into Ireland, and that one of her ancestors from the 1700s was named Sophia Paterson. It’s a bit spooky when Carrie finds out that Sophia actually lived for a few years in Slains Castle. But when Carrie’s research shows more and more connections with the novel she’s writing ― not just names, but the events she’s dreaming and writing about ― Carrie and those around her begin to wonder what kind of connection she has to the past, and to Sophia.

    Kearsley’s use of “genetic memory” as the reason for Carrie’s vivid dreams and recollections of events in the life of Sophia Paterson, down to knowing Sophia’s thoughts and feelings, was a bit of an eye-roller for me. (Scientifically speaking, genetic memory isn’t the physical encoding of specific memories in a body, but “a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli.”) But if you’re able to suspend disbelief and accept it as a story-telling device, The Winter Sea is a deeply interesting look at the lives of characters who were instrumental in the 1708 attempted invasion of Scotland by naval forces supporting James Stuart. Kearsley deftly weaves together both historical and fictional characters in her novels, and invariably provides a detailed afterword where she explains the historical background and where she’s taken liberties with actual history in writing her story.

    The Winter Sea switches back and forth between Carrie’s story in modern times, researching and writing her novel and dealing with the competing romantic attentions of the two attractive sons of her Scottish landlord, and Sophia in the early 1700s, an orphaned young woman who has come to stay with her relatives at Slains Castle. Anne, the Countess of Erroll and an actual historical figure, is a fascinating woman in her own right, independent, determined and capable of playing a significant role in the Jacobite rebellions. Sophia finds both love and heartbreak at Slains, as she meets some of the movers and shakers of the time. The Winter Sea has some sorrowful moments and gets extra tearjerker points for making me weep in public (I’m sure the person sitting next to me on the plane was amused).

    Sophia’s daughter’s story, and Russia’s role in the Jacobite cause in the years following this novel, are explored in its sequel, The Firebird. I highly recommend this pair of novels to readers who enjoy historical fiction with a side of romance and a slight paranormal element.

    October 15, 2018 buddy read with Dichotomy Girl and Teresa.

  5. Emery Lee Emery Lee says:

    8/15/11 - Addendum to original review. I did not rate this book after reading it because I was so upset about the ending, but in retrospect I have to allow that it was one of the best books (and perhaps THE BEST) I have read this year. While I am VERY stingy about 5 star ratings and this is NOT the HEA I would have chosen, I confess that the author's meticulous research, beautiful prose, and riveting parallel storyline has won me over in the end. I've decided to give it the 5 stars after all.

    OK. With the beginning- I was in LOVE with this book. Absolutely enthralled with it - the writing style, the dual plot lines, the historical accuracy - truly enamored. I found it so easy to relate to Carrie in her methodical and thorough research for her historical novel and her deisre to get the tiniest details right. I enjoyed the beginnings of romance with the Keith brothers, and I immediately sympathized with the characters in Carrie's novel.

    As it turns out, I am one of probably very few people who already had a very thorough knowledge of the Franco-Scottish plans in 1708 and the subsequent Jacobite risings and can say that the author was spot on with historical accuracy. I admire and respect how she was able to work so many true characters and events into the story in such an engaging fashion...


    About 80% into the book, things take a bad turn and there is a particular detail of this that spoiled the entire book for me. Although there is a rather contrived HEA (one that I actually saw coming) the female protagonist does something that caused me to become completely alienated from her emotinally and I found I could never feel sympathy or respect for her from that moment on. Since I do not believe in plot-spoiling reviews, but try very hard to just give my thoughts on a book, I won't reveal what that moment was. Suffice to say, however, I felt the action was so far out of character that I had a hard time believing in the ultimate HEA. It was also so far removed from my own nature that I could not relate to it. I then found myself reading the rest of the book with an uncharacteristic detachment and just flipping pages to see how it would all be resolved.

    This should have been/could have been a 5 star review but I am so conflicted about the resolution that I refuse to rate it.

  6. Virginie *No more time to write reviews for the moment :( * Virginie *No more time to write reviews for the moment :( * says:

    Wow! Sometimes it's worth it to step out of our comfort zone!

    I don't read romance books often, so I'm glad when I pick one and it's that good. I loved that the main character was an author and I really appreciated learning about the Jacobites, wich I didn't know much about. The love story in the past was amazing and I could easily see this becoming a TV series. I would watch it for sure!

    4.5 rounded up
    Thanks to my mom for the recommendation!

    May 10th, 2020

  7. Judy Judy says:

    Reader beware: This author does not compare to Mary Stewart, Daphne Dumaurier or Diana Gabaldon. I really wish I could have given this book a 2.5. It was better than okay, but not much.

    I really disliked the plot device of cutting back and forth from the 18th to the 21st century. When the 18th century story started to get interesting, the story would revert to the 21st century. The contemporary part of the story was dull and I didn’t care about the characters. The use of “genetic memory” as a plot device didn’t justify the jarring lack of continuity either.

    However, what bothered me the most was the lack of character development. The author did a tremendous amount of historical research, and it shows in her meticulous attention to accuracy. Yet, most of the details concerned atmospherics, the flow of events, and fidelity to the historic record, but didn’t add depth to our understanding of the characters. I didn’t feel like she had gotten into anyone’s skin and portrayed a richly lived experience. Disappointing.

  8. Ira Ira says:

    I’m glad in this ‘self published and write anything you want’ times, there are still author like Ms. Kearsley.

    This is certainly not a bubble gum book which widely available lately, and you just need to read it once and the story will stay with you forever. The last book I felt this way, was Jennifer Donnelly, The Tea Rose.

    Yep! This type of book is very rare and that’s why, it made me more appreciate the throughly research work this author done for her story.

    I don’t know what more can I write here, there are more than 7000 reviews you can choose from:)
    But if you love excellent writing of a beautiful love story, you must read this.

    Highly recommended from me, oh one note, this is not a time travel story.

    You should read to find out why this book loves by so many readers! ❤️❤️❤️

  9. Sarah Sarah says:

    If you knew me at all in person, you’d know that I am a lover of history. Though I am always interested in history of any kind, my particular interests range from ancient Egypt, it’s ties to ancient Rome, and how that all eventually leads to England before it was England, across the sea to the Danes and the Northmen, and back again to England, Scotland and Ireland. What fascinates me most is how the influences of all these great people through history still dictate so very much of what we do today. How history repeats itself again and again and again. Though I still have not quite sorted out The War of the Roses and that family mess, I’m getting there.

    So here I find myself, with a type of novel I have held no particular interest in for quite some time, a romance, that is saved by its historical context, and a touch of magic, or science, depending on how you look at it. And though I have no particular urge to go on a romance read-a-thon, it was a very welcome reading-slump-buster.

    This is really two stories in one. The first is that of Carrie, a historical fiction writer, who wants to tell the story of James Stewart, whose throne was stolen from him and his Jacobite supporters, especially Nathaniel Hooke. She’s been attempting to write in France at the palace of St Germain where Stewart lived in exile, but finds no inspiration there. On a chance visit to her agent in Scotland, she stumbles upon Slains Castle, and hears the voices of her characters finally come to life. As she writes, she discovers many details are history, with not a shred of fiction.

    We are also given access to the story she is writing, and the chapters frequently alter between past and present. The story she writes is of Sophia, who finds herself in the household of the Countess of Errol, a staunch Jacobite. This is the story that really stole the show though I hadn’t expected it to. Sophia is not an active player in the Jacobite uprisings, merely a passive observer for the most part, but her story is both joyful and tragic, enchanting and haunting. I ripped through these pages as I cannot recall having done in months.

    The romance is told beautifully. There are no sex scenes (they merely fade to black) and I think perhaps that is the most appealing aspect of the entire novel. It allowed the romance itself to take center stage and truly be felt by the reader. Though I could not tell you much about the truth of these events as the author has written them, I was impressed by the afterword (which I always read!) and it seemed to me that she had done very thorough research and perhaps even included a couple of the locals of Cruden Bay in Carrie’s story.

    The writing was superb, even if the Doric speech was almost untranslatable to my eyes. But it is Scotland and it lent the story a great deal of authenticity.

    I will definitely be checking out Kearsley’s other works in the future (I’ve been eyeing The Firebird for awhile) and would heartily recommend this to fans of historical romance and certainly to fans of Outlander and Diana Gabaldon.

  10. Hannah Hannah says:

    Re-read 2/22/13
    Just as excellent the second time around.
    Now to dive into The Firebird :D

    Original Review
    From the onset of Susanna Kearsley's, The Winter Sea, fate clearly plays a large part in the destiny of writer Carrie McClelland, as well as the novel she is researching on the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1708. A detour to Slains Castle on the rugged west coast of Scotland solidifies Carrie's desire to move her base of operations there. After meeting with her agent and good friend, Jane, Carrie finds and settles into her new digs at a cottage in Cruden Bay - a cottage with a magnificant view of Slains Castle in the distance.

    Immediately, vivid and strange, half-remembered dreams of another woman haunt her sleep, and make her computer keyboard keys fly with reams of storyline that these dreams produce. Carrie slowly submerges herself in the story of her ancestor, Sophia Paterson; a woman who was initially no more then a name in Carrie's family tree.

    As the days go by, and the dreams intensify, Carrie comes to realize that Sophia's story is no longer a figment of her writer's imagination, but a real echo of Sophia's life in 1708 Scotland. In addition, Carrie's own life begins to mirror Sophia's.

    The Winter Sea is a solid, historically replete novel featuring everything I've come to expect and admire from writer Susanna Kearsley:
    - Realistic characters you grow to like and relate to.
    - An intriguing storyline that maintains it's voice and consistancy throughout.
    - An understated love story without gratuitous sex or cheesy dialog.
    - A well researched historical novel that teaches and informs the reader without overwhelming them with dry facts and boring details.

    Kearsley's got a real talent for writing, and I don't mind admitting she has become one of my favorite new writers with a skill on par with the likes of Mary Stewart or Daphne duMaurier IMO.

    A solid 5 star book.

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