All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Winter Sea – Di Morrissey

on December 23, 2013

Winter SeaThe Winter Sea
Di Morrissey
Pan Macmillan AU
2013, 416p
Copy courtesy of the publisher/The Reading Room.com

 

Sydney lawyer Cassie Holloway is going through a marriage break up and has quit her job at a high profile law firm. Keen for an escape and to just get away from it all, she heads down the south coast of New South Wales to Whitby Point, a place that her deceased father always talked about but somewhere he never took his wife and daughter when he was still alive. There she rents a small cabin and spends her days walking and just generally healing and figuring out what she wants to do with her life. Disillusioned with the direction that her career has gone in, she knows that she wants something new and she’s looking for inspiration.

In Whitby Point she meets local vet Michael after a stray dog adopts her. He and his family, the Aquinos have been in Whitby Point for generations. But Cassie’s presence in Whiby Point suddenly becomes a problem when she discovers that she has been left money by a member of the Aquino family in his will. Shunned and suddenly made an outcast by all except Michael, Cassie decides to get to the bottom of this mystery and discover why she has been made such a beneficiary.

Her quest for information takes her back to the original Aquino, Giuseppe, who came to Australia after the first World War and made a life for himself fishing the coastal waters of New South Wales. Originally from Sicily, Giuseppe was at one with the ocean and had a knack for understanding where the fish would be and where he could get a good catch. He built a dynasty but there was tragedy in his life too and as Cassie finally find someone who can shed some light on the story and reveal how her own family is connected to the Aquinos, she begins to understand who she is and what her calling is.

I’ve read a handful of Di Morrissey novels in the past and one of the things I almost always enjoy about her books is the way she captures a setting and makes the reader really want to visit there. Despite the fact that I grew up in New South Wales and spent the first 24 years of my life there, I’ve never been down the south coast. I spent most of my childhood holidays on the north coast and then moved there just before I started high school. However the south coast is definitely now on my ‘to visit’ list – all of the scenery and the food described in this book is pretty amazing! The other part of the book is set in Sicily, very close to where both of my in-laws are from. I’m unlikely to ever be able to get to visit over there, unless I win the lottery at some stage, so it was nice to read about something connected to my husband and his family. My father-in-law has been a fisherman in his life, especially for calamari, flathead etc in southern Victoria, where he moved to when he came out from Sicily. It also gave me a chance to see what life might’ve been like for them, before they came to Australia. They came out here after the character in the story – he after WWI, them after WWII but I imagine things were very similar.

So once again, I loved both of the settings in this book however at times the story did feel a little slow. It begins with Giuseppe in Italy from 1906 and his journey to Australia, all of which was rather interesting but went on longer than I expected and then it switched to modern day and Cassie. In contrast this section was actually shorter than I expected and I felt like a lot more could’ve been done in terms of her friendship with Michael and how that develops. I liked her journey towards self discovery and how, by visiting a lot of the local area she became inspired and how it and her mother helped her decide what she wanted to do in life. But all of this came very easily in an industry which isn’t easy at all. It’s all rather effortless – well it is until the fact that Cassie has inherited money from an Aquino comes out and then it turns into something really petty and silly, which is also never resolved. Cassie never gets an apology from the person who attacked her, nor does she get a chance to defend herself nor does she see the reaction of the person who wronged her when they find out the truth. It was all a bit of a let down, especially the lead up to the secret from the past being revealed and then what happened thereafter. The book also did this thing at the end where it skipped forward a year, which really left a lot of things unsaid and it left me feeling less than satisfied about the relations between Cassie and several locals who also let her down because they believed malicious gossip.

All in all The Winter Sea is a good story but definitely not the best I have read from Morrissey. I’d have preferred a shorter introduction to Giuseppe and a much longer section containing Cassie and Michael before the past was revealed. And the end definitely needed more – I really dislike it when books leave out crucial scenes where characters need to interact in order to get past what has happened between them.

6/10

Book #330 of 2013

AWW2013

The Winter Sea is book #112 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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