Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: "The Winter Sea," by Susanna Kearsley

As I've mentioned here before, I don't often do full-fledged book reviews, but I've made an exception The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley. Actually, it's not a review so much as an analysis of my reaction to the book, and my curiosity about whether my analogy below might apply to other readers as well. So here is a copy of the review I posted on Goodreads. If you've read The Winter Sea or a book like it and would like to chime in with your thoughts in a comment, I would love to hear from you!

Goodreads review:

Okay, so here is my take on "Winter Sea." I loved the two romances in this story. I loved learning about the early Jacobites, since probably like most readers, I was more familiar with the stories of Bonnie Prince Charlie than I was with those of his father, James. I loved the beautiful writing, which I fully confess made me envious and wishing that I could write beautiful scenes like some of these. :::sigh::: On the other hand, just for me personally, I struggled with the structure of the book, the flipping back and forth between the present and the past. Although I understand why the author wrote the book this way and realize the "flipping" was a necessary part of her plot, I still found it jarring. I would become fully immersed in the characters in the present and just as I was thoroughly enjoying their scenes, I would find myself wrenched away to the characters in the past. Then just as I found myself happily immersed in these characters' scenes, I would be wrenched back to the present. I found it somewhat difficult emotionally because I could have loved reading an entire book (or two separate books) about just one set of characters or the other without interruption. It is certainly a credit to the author's writing abilities that she was able to make me care so much about both sets of couples. (Loved, loved, loved the humor in the contemporary scenes. A few times I literally laughed out loud.)

Now, in one of my status updates I promised a food analogy that occurred to me while I was reading this book. My emotional reaction to the structure of this book made me reflect on why I found the switching back and forth so difficult when someone like my sister would have read a book like this through seamlessly without any of the jarring sensations that I felt. And then I remembered how we like to eat our food. Let's take Thanksgiving dinner as an example. Say my sister and I each have a plate containing turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and dressing. My sister will smoosh all of these foods together and eat them all mixed up, while I confess that I prefer to eat all my turkey, then all my green beans, then all my mashed potatoes, etc, one by one. My sister loves to mix all the flavors up together, while I prefer to savor each one individually before moving on to the next. (This works for chocolate, too. Give me 10 Hershey Kisses, 5 caramel and 5 with almonds, and I will eat all the caramel ones first, then all the almonds one. That's just the way my taste buds work.)

This analogy got me to wondering if the reactions of other readers of a book like "Winter Sea" might also reflect their eating habits. I am tempted to do a poll of readers to see if there is, indeed, a correlation between the two, but I confess, I am too lazy to put one together. However, if any of you read this review and would like to share your opinion on my analogy, I'd be fascinated to hear it!

(And if you've actually read this far, then you deserve to buy yourself some Hershey Kisses and eat them in whichever order you prefer!)

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