Amazon link for the book is here.
In Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, writer Carrie McClelland ends up in a tiny cottage in Cruden Bay (northeast coast), Scotland while writing her historical fiction novel about the Jacobite Rebellions of the early 18th century. Having initially struggled to get the book started, Carrie finds sudden inspiration in Scotland, particularly at a long-abandoned castle, Slains, which played a prominent role in the ’08 invasion attempt. There, she hears dialogue in her head between characters that then flows onto her page, characters who Carrie later learns really did exist. One of these characters, Sophia Paterson, was Carrie’s own ancestor, and Carrie chronicles Sophia’s story as she sees it play out in her head. Carrie dives into the writing, recalling facts, persons, and details that she intuitively knows, as if she’s faithfully recording someone’s spoken tale, someone who has been dead for over 300 years. Her uncanny insights are intriguing and disturbing as she tries to fully uncover the story. Everything she writes down subsequently turns out to have happened exactly as she has written it. Is it possible that Carrie holds the genetic memories of her ancestor Sophia?
Meanwhile, in the present, Carrie’s landlord has two sons, Stuart and Graham, both vying for her attention. Graham is a history professor at a local university who helps Carrie with her research and bears a remarkable resemblance to Carrie’s fictional hero.
Kearsley masterfully weaves Sophia’s and Carrie’s stories together, with reality mirroring the historical and vice versa. All but a few of the characters are historically accurate, as are all of the locations, which adds great depth to the tale. The book is as compelling for its details about the events and people involved in the ’08 uprising as it is as a narrative that binds the factual and fictional together. While the first third of the novel is rather slow to pick up speed, the connections and events that evolve are well worth the wait, so dig in!