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Sex on Earth: A Celebration of Animal Reproduction
Jules Howard

The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea - Susanna Kearsley I found the Winter Sea to be a very enchanting book. The premise of genetic memory was very interesting and I enjoyed the exploration of the topic. The story begins slowly but gradually builds and left me wanting more of the characters from the past. I vacillated between enjoying the present versus the past throughout the beginning of the book but the past quickly became the captivating aspect of the book.

Kearsley wrote the book so the present involves a writer gaining inspiration from the ruins of Slains castle in Scotland. The past involves the writer's novel, the strength of the book in my opinion. I disliked greatly the parallels between the present and the past, I found them entirely unnecessary especially considering the genetic memory theme. Why do certain statements or situations have to mimic the past in the present? It added nothing to the story for me. It also seemed like Kearlsey tried to work up unnecessary drama in the present (the brothers) that fell flat. In addition, the little nuances of being a writer felt like Kearsley herself kept intruding on the story. I rather wish Kearlsey had not tried to parallel the two stories but simply wrote Sophia's story even if I did enjoy the idea of genetic memory.

The relationship in the past, Sophia and Moray, is very well written and I could not get enough of the two. I admit certain situations had me in tears, which is extremely difficult to accomplish. Their love and other emotions are written so well that you cannot help but feel them too. I did not see the twist that happened at the end coming (maybe I should have?) and that made the ending all the more enjoyable. (Again though, the present situation could have completely disappeared and I would not have cared.)

The premise of the book was extremely interesting to me. Genetic memory played a part in Carrie's ability to write her novel, as she was remembering memories that were not her own. These memories were from Sophia, a relative of Carrie's some three hundred years in the past. It seems rather unbelievable but when you think about the complexity of DNA and the things that are known to pass it does not seem as unbelievable. I'm still not on board with the idea but I certainly enjoy batting it around in my mind. Are past lives under hypnosis really just genetic memories from ancestors? Fascinating idea. I've always loved the idea of past lives, I feel like an old soul myself, so this is a rather new take on it for me. But at the same time, doesn't it make it somewhat of a letdown for these past lives not actually to have been your own, just your ancestors?

The love story in the book, the past one at least, is so strong is such a short period of time that it also made me think of how love stories are today versus hundreds of years ago. Was love strengthened by the unknown? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? We certainly have little ability to have that these days with anything from text messages to skype to IMing and regular phone calls. Wouldn't a letter be nice? Technology is rather depressing if you think of how the constant ability to connect has lessened our true connections.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the book but I rather wished Kearlsey had bookended the story with Carrie and genetic memory rather than continually intruding upon the story. I found the present dull in comparison and the mimicking gimmicky. Had the story simply been Sophia's Secret, as the other title of the book implies, I would have found it worthy of more stars. But, certainly a very enjoyable read nonetheless.