About this book: (from the publisher) Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the southwest coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe’s great-grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie’s future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.
About the author: (from her Amazon page) Di Morrissey is one of the most successful authors Australia has ever produced. She trained as a journalist, working in the media around the world. Her fascination with different countries; their landscape, their cultural, political and environmental issues, forms the inspiration for her novels. Di is a tireless activist for many causes: opposing large-scale development and commercial food chains into Byron Bay NSW, fighting gas and mining intrusion into sacred lands in the Kimberly, and stopping massive and unnecessary power lines intruding into the Manning Valley NSW. Di also established The Golden Land Education Foundation in Myanmar. Di lives in the Manning Valley, NSW.
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary Women*
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG
First Impressions: The alluring, atmospheric cover, along with the intriguing synopsis, told me this could be lovely winter read–the kind you cozy up with while nuzzled inside a warm afghan and sipping a cup of your favorite steaming beverage. In fact the cover is so appealing that as I was carrying it around, one woman saw it and commented that it looked like a good book. I agreed. But then I had to tell her that while I was only a few chapters into it, the story wasn’t measuring up to my expectations.
This story matters… as it explores how our family’s past can affect our personal future–if we let it.
My take: This novel contained the most meandering beginning I’ve read in a long while. The first 100 pages were backstory. In these pages, I had a hard time discerning plot, and there was no tension to speak of. The only thing driving the story forward was my curiosity to see how it would all plug in to the rest of the tale.
When the story did finally reach the contemporary story-line, it picked up a bit–but it was still too much telling and not enough tension for my taste.
Di Morrissey is apparently known for her strong delivery of “place,”, and judging by this novel (the first of hers I’ve read) I would agree. If you enjoy novels that take you into a different world and immerse you there, you might find this one appealing.
All in all, I felt as if this was a novel I might have read (and probably enjoyed) 20 years ago. The style seemed to me outdated. That said, I feel a little ridiculous with my critique given that Morrissey is multi-multi published (over twenty titles to her name) and a much beloved novelist in her homeland. But there you have it. Reading pleasure is nothing if not subjective.
[Tweet “From Di Morrissey, known for delivering a strong sense of place: The Winter Sea.”]
Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: * So here’s where I talk about this novel’s categorization. The publisher’s choice (Fiction/Contemporary Women) baffles me–though I do also acknowledge that this one’s rather genre-defying, which is perhaps why they settled on what they did. It contains a significant historical fiction thread alongside the contemporary one. (And I found the split a bit clunky.) I would also define it as more romance than women’s fiction by tone and style.
My question to you: Can you name a recent book that seemed not to fit its genre? Do tell.