I’ve had the fortune to review several books recently that fall right into my view of the perfect summer read, and Karen White’s newest novel, Sea Change, has all of the right ingredients – beach setting, romance, and mystery. It’s a book you don’t want to put down and while haunt you after you’ve finished.
Ava Whalen has moved to the small Georgia island of St. Simons after a whirlwind romance and sudden marriage to child psychologist Matthew Frazier. Ava has never felt like she belonged in her family, while her instant strong attraction to Matthew feels like coming home. When Ava and Matthew arrive at St. Simons she must divulge the truth – she’s had a lifelong fear of water. As Ava meets others that live on the island she starts learning that Matthew has secrets of his own.
Ava’s mother, Gloria, loves her daughter, but has never been the mother Ava deserved. Their only method of bonding was over the garden, where Gloria nurtured beautiful flowers, while Ava preferred “useful” plants. Gloria worries about her daughter moving to St. Simons, not only because of her fear of water but because of Gloria’s own secrets related to that location.
In addition to following Ava and Gloria’s stories, there’s a third narrator – Pamela, a midwife who lived on the island in the early 1800’s. I won’t go into details about her, as this review would get quite long, but suffice it to say her story intertwines with Ava’s, and to understand and believe their relationship requires a bit of suspension of disbelief and/or belief in reincarnation.
I found Sea Change to be a wonderfully written novel, unraveling details in a slow but satisfying way. As Ava learns about her new home her belief system also changes and grows. The way she immediately befriends everyone she meets is a bit of a stretch, accepting people at face-value when they may have hidden motives. The characters are all flawed without being unlikable, and St. Simons is a rich setting and one can almost hear and smell the ocean and imagine what it’s like living in a place with such history. The three individual stories are woven together seamlessly, and the transitions from past to present are not as jarring as they could be in such a novel.
Nancy has not ruled out the possibility of reincarnation. She blogs at Life With My Boys and Books.