Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Winter Sea

History has all but forgotten...In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown....

I would classify The Winter Sea as fitting into the genre of romance which is not my favorite.  However Susanna Kearsley feeds wonderful history to the reader so well that I could not quit reading.  There is a scene in which Graham Keith, the son of the main character's landlord, summarizes the English/Scots Stewart Kings so well, that I wanted to copy them into this post (feel free to skip if you are not into Scots history):

"Robert the Bruce.....(think Braveheart) was the King of Scotland.....his daughter married onto the High Steward, so from that you've got the "Stewart" line which went through two more Roberts and a heap of Jameses before coming down to Mary Queen of Scots. ... And Mary's son, James, became heir to Queen Elizabeth of England, who died without a child.  So now you have a Stewart being king of both England and Scotland, though he acts more English than Scots now ....never setting a foot up in Scotland.  Nor does his son, Charles, who gets too cocky with his powers.  So along comes Cromwell and his men to say they have had enough of kings.  So they depose Charles and cut off his head.

Then the English, after years of Civil War and having Cromwell and his parliament om charge for a while, decide that they would be better off with a king and invite the old king's son, Charles Stewart (Charles II) to come back and take the throne.  And when he dies in 1685, his brother, James, takes the throne.  Which would not have been a problem, but James was Catholic.  VERY Catholic.  And not only do the English fear that he is trying to edge out their hard won Protestant religion, but they also fear he will enter into an alliance with the Catholic King of France....their worst enemy.

.....So the British look around for a Protestant replacement and find the perfect candidate as James' eldest daughter, Mary, had married a Protestant husband William of Orange.....

But just as the aristocrats are getting things in place, James' second wife gave birth to a son...and what comes next is not exactly a war, but more like a chess game with knights and nobles changing sides until about six months later James, his wife, and his new son flee to France.  

There are now two factions....those who support Mary and William of Orange and those who feel that James and his new son are the true rulers and wish to put them back on the throne... this faction is called Jacobites from Jacobus which is the Latin name for James."  I am going to quit copying....but one can find the rest starting on page 200 of the paperback book

The story takes place at Cruden Bay on the east coast of Scotland.  My husband, Jack, and I visited this spot in 1998 with Jack's golf buddies and their wives.  I only wish that this book had been available in 1998.  I would loved to have read it as a part of our trip.  As I remember none of us visited the ruins of Slains Castle while we were there.  If I had read the book, I am sure that I would have been very interested in the 1708 event that this book is about and in seeing the ruins.  Certainly I spent MANY hours reading about Culloden in preparation for the trip.

Below is a photo of my husband (far right) and his buddies on the Cruden Bay golf course.

 I would recommend the book to anyone who likes historical fiction and who is interested in Scottish History of the 1700's.

While browsing the internet for some information about Cruden Bay golf, I found the following WONDERFUL film that shows the golf course c.1914.  This short film is NOT to be missed if you have any interest at all in Cruden Bay:

and to:

for a tour of the course.  And to:

for a wonderful blog post that also includes photos of the course and a narrative that explains why it is so special.  I wish that I had asked my husband to say which of the courses he liked the most on that trip.  I have this book on audio and KOBO; I am reading it via

I just finished the book yesterday.  I would have to say that the ending is lots of fun!  This lady did a VERY good job of making the book encompass two very separate eras and, of course, I loved the references to genealogy research.  Susannah Kearsley did an excellent job of weaving many themes into her book.