Friday, May 10, 2013

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥♥

The Winter Sea would make a great movie. It will be a crime against women if James McAvoy does NOT play the main dude. Granted he's a bit younger than the guy in the book, but we can suspend disbelief that far, can't we Skeptics?

See the YouTube trailer for the book below.

The Winter Sea is not a romance novel, per se, but it is definitely Romantical! SK's style reminded me of Tracy Chevalier's (Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Lady and the Unicorn, Remarkable Creatures) and puts you in a sort of dreamy, trance-like state where you genuinely feel like you have been transported to the misty moors of the Scottish coast.

The story-within-a-story arrangement deals with two time periods, the present day, and the years around 1708 - the time of the Jacobin uprising of the Scots. This was a failed plot by the supporters of the exiled Catholic King James to take back the throne from the Protestant English Queen Anne. 

The historical heroine lives with the Countess of Erroll at Slains Castle, right by a swirling, grey sea, and through her we learn of the men who come and go through the castle, plotting to return the "rightful" king, King James, to Scotland. Scotland is at a crossroads; It is a tense and dangerous time and we see how its fate lies ultimately in the hands of those who love and those who ultimately betray each other and the country.

In the present day, the modern heroine rents a cottage nearby the Castle and falls under its spell. She channels the story of the historical heroine and of a Scotland that stands at the precipice.

In both the present day and historical stories, SK weaves in two rather lovely romantic stories that, at least in the historical story's case, drive the plot forward and infuse the characters with even greater purpose and passion for their mission to bring back the King. The romance set in modern times was just for fun! Although, it probably worked so well because as SK flipped back and forth in the two time periods we can see how elements of historical heroine's life were reflected in the modern one's.

The book was surprisingly "technical" - there was some thoroughly researched historical material about the Jacobin uprising and the major players in that intrigue. SK deals with it all with a light hand so I never felt overwhelmed with information. She uses the raw, Scottish landscape beautifully. Not only the sea, but the castle ruins, her descriptions of the moody weather and terrain were all gorgeous and made me wish for a wee dram of whiskey to complement the mood.

Glad I picked this one up and especially glad I didn't read any Amazon reviews of it because there were tons of spoilers in those! I look forward to watching Jimmy in the movie. And since it's set in Scotland, I shall expect him to be attired in a kilt. 

I have SK's newer one - The Rose Garden, which I shall begin soon. Watch this space...

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