In Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea you get two books in one. The main character, Carrie McClelland is writing a novel about the past. The novel jumps back and forth between present and past. In the past we have among other things the love story of Sophia Paterson and John Moray. In the present we have Carrie, her genealogy research, her novel, and her slightly-less-interesting romance.
I found myself drawn more to the characters from the past. They were more real and interesting to me. I really liked the hero – he was dashing and romantic. There was plot point to the novel about the past that I found a little unbelievable – it was the same point that Carrie’s friend and agent, Jane found to be unbelievable and something that a mother would never do. I found that part of the story to be particularly sad (as did Jane). The storyline in the present seemed to be just a frame for the storyline from the past. I liked the present day hero well enough, and I liked the town’s people and their quirks. The present day heroine was okay, but she wasn’t that interesting – all she did was write and remember things from the past (she had her ancestor’s memories). If the story was to feature both present and past, I would have liked to see the present a little better developed. I felt there was no depth to the heroine, and there was nothing exciting about the romance. They just started seeing one another, and they ended up together. The romance from the past featured tension, danger, love, separation, tragedy, surprise and joy.
I understand that in Kearsley’s novel The Firebird she continues on with some of the storyline. She features Sophia and John’s daughter as another set of present day characters explore the past. I will definitely read that one. I hope both the present and past characters are equally developed (and interesting).