Let us hope we are all proceded in this world by a love story* -“The Winter Sea” and “The Violets of March”

November 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm 3 comments

*Quote by Don Snyder

Once in a while I long for a love story – a heartbreaking, filled with longing, happy (or tragic) ending love story. Writing a good love story is tricky. It has to be something the reader can relate to but also it has to have that right touch of the extraordinary.  Slip too far one way or the other and the story because ridiculous and too campy. Both “The Winter Sea” and “The Violets of March” were recommended by friends when, after a lot of really angst-ridden reads, I solicited suggestions for a good love story. Both novels did a great job of balancing the relatable main character with the extraordinary love element.  And so I finally ended reading two books with a smile on my face.

“The Winter Sea” by Susanna Kearsley, Published in 2010: Carrie is a novelist who writes historical fiction. While working on her novel about James Stewart’s attempt to claim the Scottish crown in 1708 she finds herself with writer’s block.  At the suggestion of her publisher she rents a cottage in the Scottish town of Cruden Bay where Slains Castle is located.  All of the sudden, Carrie finds herself able to write.  Her story, she decides, must be written from the perspective of a young woman, Sophia, who finds herself living at Slains Castle in the early 1700s.

While living in Cruden Bay, Carrie becomes close with some of the locals and of course falls in love.  Carrie finds she has a strange connection with Slains Castle, like she lived there centuries ago making her writing creepily accurate.  That part of the novel was a bit odd and I didn’t think necessary but it was an easy thing to overlook.  “The Winter Sea” is narrated by Carrie but then other chapters are the historical fiction novel Carrie is writing.  I usually hate this technique, a story within a story, but here it was fun.  Both stories were engaging enough to keep the reader interested and of course both were romantic enough to make this reader happy.  And any novel that is set in Scotland is okay by me.

The Violets of March” by Sarah Jio, Published in 2011: Emily was a best-selling author who finds herself with a bad case of writer’s block (yes, see above) and a philandering husband who is divorcing her for the “other woman.”  Emily decides to take a break from her life and go visit her Aunt Bee who lives on Bainbridge Island, a ferry ride away from Seattle. While staying with her Aunt, Emily finds what appears to be an old diary.  Written by Esther, the diary details Esther’s life and her
great but tragic love for Elliot.  As Emily reads the diary she starts to realize that Esther’s story is linked to hers and she is not just finding her next novel but finding herself.

The novel sounds a little corny but Jio is skilled at describing settings and the characters are lovable.  I decided while reading “The Violets of March” that I have to get, if not to Bainbridge Island, then at least to the sea next Spring. I could feel the sand, smell the ocean and I really wanted to be at the yearly clambake with the characters.  Happily, I was able to drink wine with the characters in the comfort of my own home.

I am not saying Jio or Kearsley are the next Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte. But who is? And because I will never be able to experience “Persuasion” again for the first time (though times 2 through 5 have been pretty enjoyable) I am happy to try to find those great new love stories that make me smile at my husband in between turning pages.

Other reviews to check out:

From The Book Stop

From The Lost Entwife 

From The Lighthearted Librarian

From Book Chatter

From Sheri de Grom


Entry filed under: November 2012 reads. Tags: , , , , .

Another thing to worry about- “The Age of Miracles” by Karen Thompson Walker Edelweiss, bless my homeland forever – “The House at Tyneford” by Natasha Solomons

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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