Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sea Change - Karen White

In the blogger world, Karen White is a rock goddess.  She is gorgeous, she is Southern from her head to her toes, and she writes touching, comfortable women's fiction.  And lucky for us, she is a bit of an overachiever, cranking out at least one book a year, sometimes more.  (Not only that but she juggles a couple of teenagers, a husband and a dog-child.)  I've had a chance to hang out with her over dinner, and she is the epitome of grace.  


I'd like to thank Jessica at Penguin Group for offering me the opportunity to review her latest book "Sea Change".  It took me all of three seconds to hit the e-mail reply button and scream YES.  


Synopsis:  Ava Whalen is embarking on a new journey, starting a new life.  She and her new husband Matthew, who had a whirlwind courtship and quickly eloped, are moving to St. Simons Island, where Matthew lives in the home that has been in his family for generations.  Ava feels that perhaps this is her chance to escape her feeling of never belonging in her own family and her arms-length relationship with her mother.  She also has a terrifying fear of water, but she hopes that Matthew, who is a psychologist, can help her with that.  


But there are secrets she is keeping from her new husband, and secrets he is keeping from her as well.  Determined to get closer to Matthew, Ava begins researching his lineage, wandering the graveyards, and meeting her neighbors.  Soon she feels a strong connection with a woman named Pamela who lived back in the early 1800's.  The more she digs, the more she fears that the past may have the power to destroy her future, but she is compelled to find the answers.


Alternating back and forth in time, between the modern day with Ava, and Pamela in the early 1800's, we follow two strong women who are in love, and would do anything to save their families.  This story is about family, about grandmothers, mothers and daughters, about bonds that extend over generations, and about second chances.


My thoughts:  One of Karen White's signatures in her work is her ability to transport you to a really cool place.  In this case, we travel to St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.  This is the Gothic deep South, with salty air and hanging moss and historically-rich landmarks.  What a perfect place to tell a story about mysteries from the past!  


And although I wouldn't classify it as a mystery, we have several we are attempting to uncover here.  There are the rumors about the ghost of a man who walks the beach, pining for his unfaithful wife.  There are Ava's unexplained fears and gaps in her childhood memories, and Matthew has a few unanswered (slightly sinister) questions about himself.  It was a delightful, warm and comfortable untangling of threads that, in the end, was very satisfying.


Often if an author attempts to provide two narratives from different time periods, it falters, breaking up the momentum, or we find ourselves preferring one over the other.  This did not happen here.  I loved both Ava and Pamela, and thought that the pacing between the two was seamless and perfect.


So Karen gives us a little bit of mystery, a wonderful sense of place, a little bit of love, a little bit of history, some intriguing ancestors, some tragedy (to keep us humble), and a little bit of the unexplained.  It all adds up to a very enjoyable summer read, which is exactly what we would expect!


4 out of 5 stars


   

22 comments:

bermudaonion said...

It's so funny that you reviewed this book today since I'm going to a Book Your Lunch for Karen today! I'm glad to see the book is good!

Anita said...

I was just looking at this book last night at work, and recognized the author but wasn't familiar with the book, it sounds lovely and I will have to read it some day....the list goes on and on you know...sigh.
Thanks for the review Sandy.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I feel so out of it not to know who a "blogger rock goddess" is! LOL

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I haven't read a single Karen White book and I've been meaning to. Good thing she is an overachiever because I'll have my pick of books to read! I could use some Southern fiction for the summertime. Feels about right. I like the premise of this book with researching lineages, strolling through graveyards, etc. I wonder why the cover seems beachy, though? I'm going to try to put a hold on it at the library.

patebooks said...

Looking forward to this one. To my TBR!!

Anna said...

I am reading this book right now and am loving it. How cool that you had dinner with Karen White! I don't think I'd be able to talk or eat. I'd just stare at her in awe and then she'd think I'm weird. LOL

Meg @ write meg! said...

Oooh, I love Karen White -- and this sounds right up my alley! Her books are always so interesting and atmospheric. Glad to know there's another winner here.

Ti said...

I've only read one book by her and I wasn't that impressed, although I loved the Southern aspect of it.

Jenners said...

And it has the obligatory summer read cover image! : )

Carrie K. said...

Wow - sounds so great! I've loved her last few books and have passed them all on to my mom, who also loves them. Will have to look for this one. :)

softdrink said...

I've never read Karen White. *slinks away in shame*

caite said...

Love the cover..and the setting...but the whole idea of "woman's fiction" makes me itchy.

Marie said...

sounds great. i haven't heard of her i'm glad you enjoyed it!

Jenny said...

I haven't actually read any of her books, but maybe I should change that!

Tasha B. said...

My mom loves Karen White. I'm pretty sure I saw her reading Sea Change, but we don't really discus books that much.

Susan said...

I had no idea Karen White had a new book out. I loved her other books, so I'll definitely be checking this one out. Thanks for the head's up!

Julie P. said...

Can't wait to read this one! Maybe next????

Amy said...

This book sounds great especially with the little bit of mystery. I haven't read all of Karen White's books yet (yay! books to look forward too) but I always love several of her characters...I'm already looking forward to getting to know Ava. I also love how Karen transports her readers to the setting of the story with gorgeous writing.

Great review, Sandy! I'm looking forward to this book!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I am so a member of the Karen White fan club. When I saw her at UCF book festival I couldn't handle it... I was in the presence of a major celebrity in my eyes. Definitely looking forward to this one!

Darlene said...

I'm hoping my copy gets here this week. I've been waiting and waiting. I really love her writing and her stories are always great. Glad you enjoyed this one Sandy.

France said...

Sea Change is written from two different perspectives. The first is present day Ava who is trying to adjust to her new life and is also working to uncover the mystery of Matthew's family history. The second point of view is that of Pamela, an ancestor of Matthew's who lived in Ava's house from 1804-1815 before life took an unexpected and unfair turn. A theme that is discussed frequently in White's novel is that some endings are really beginnings. This holds true for Ava and Pamela. While Ava and Pamela seemingly have nothing in common, the lives of the two women suddenly come together when Ava goes under hypnosis to uncover a childhood secret. Ava then makes it her priority to right a wrong that was done long ago.

Teena in Toronto said...

I finished it tonight ... great story!