Amanda Gates

Book: The Winter Sea

I don’t remember why I put The Winter Sea on my Amazon wish list to begin with. It had been on there awhile and then I got it for Christmas last year. It sat on my shelf for half the year, probably because I just couldn’t remember why I wanted to read it in the first place. But, it was time for another book and I felt adventurous and ready to give it a try. And I was sucked in.

I never wrote fully about The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, but I felt like many others out there felt: it was pure magic. It had history, multiple story lines, love, death, sadness, mystery, beautiful writing—it was a completely mind(and heart)-capturing fairy tale.

I never thought another book would even come close to The Forgotten Garden. Sure, I love other books like Harry Potter and Cutting for Stone and Bossypants and The Book Thief, but they don’t really fall within the same genre, so apples and oranges… But then came The Winter Sea and I found another story of pure magic, one that can hold it’s own against The Forgotten Garden, but is just different enough that I can love them both and not feel I need to pick one over the other.

But with confidence I can say, if you loved The Forgotten Garden, you will enjoy The Winter Sea. So read it.

Carrie is a writer of historic fiction and she’s working on her latest book about early 1700s Scottish independence. However, as she’s writing down her story, the things she writes down from her head end up being true in the history books. The book goes back and forth between Carrie writing in a small town on the Scottish coast (a town with an excellent cast of characters) and her account of her heroine Sophia, living at a castle during these tumultuous years of Scottish history.

The Scottish history part—Jacobites, fleets of ships, banished kings, overthrowing queens—was a bit hard to follow and I found myself lost a bit, especially since this part of the world’s history is completely foreign to me. However, I was able to follow well enough that it didn’t take away from the story, and in turn, makes me want to learn more about it.

But I loved Sophia. I loved how Sophia’s moves and love triangle mirrored Carrie’s present-day life. I loved how we as readers were learning what would happen to Sophia right along with Carrie because as the facts came to her she then wrote them down for us. It added an element of suspense. Each time the book would shift time periods, I didn’t want to leave who we were with (Sophia/Carrie), but I also couldn’t wait to get back to who I’d been missing.

I also loved that the present-day story was about an author writing a novel, because I have fantasies of living that life. I loved Carrie’s relationship with her editor, her freedom to spend days and nights writing and also her investigative spirit to learn the truth. The story was engaging, heartbreaking, intriguing, page turning and just perfectly lovely. Total winner.

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