PUBLICATION DATE: June 5, 2012
ea Changeis Karen White’s latest novel. If you enjoy mysteries with a historical element, then you might like this fun summer read.
Ava Whalen has recently married Matthew Frazier, a man she’s known for a mere two months. As the book opens, she is preparing to move to St. Simons Island, Georgia, where Matthew is from. However, Ava hasn’t told Matthew that she has a crippling fear of water. Ava, who’s always felt like she doesn’t belong, believes that she and Matthew have an intense connection. Even though she doesn’t want to live near the water and will have to search for a new job as a midwife, she thinks her marriage is worth the move to St. Simons Island. It might even be worth alienating her family. Ava’s mother, Gloria, refuses to speak to her after she learns of the marriage.
As Matthew and Ava get settled into Matthew’s ancestral home on the island, Ava begins to learn more about her new husband, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death. Is it possible that he was responsible for her death? How well does Ava know Matthew after all? Why does he keep certain areas of the house locked up? And is it a coincidence that both of his wives had been practicing midwives? As Ava begins uncovering Matthew’s family history, she’s surprised to learn that she has a connection to the island too.
There are three narrators: Ava; Gloria; and Pamela, a midwife from the 1800s. The chapters narrated by Ava and Gloria are my favorites. Although Pamela’s chapters weren’t as interesting to me and seemed to drag a bit, I understand what they add to the story.
This is a mainstream novel, not a Christian one, and if you are bothered by supernatural elements, then this isn’t necessarily a good book for you.
If you like to be challenged and to figure things out yourself, you might be frustrated by Sea Change. The plot developments are somewhat obvious and we are repeatedly reminded of various hints. There aren’t many surprises and not much subtlety. Ava should figure some things out well before she does.
The story would have been more enjoyable if we got to know Ava better. For example, there are references to a prior engagement, but otherwise, we don’t have a good sense of what her life was like before she met Matthew, other than being repeatedly reminded that she has felt out of place. Overall, Ava’s relationship with Matthew is interesting; we sense there is a real connection between them and yet White maintains the suspense by making us wonder what he is hiding.
White’s writing is evocative and lovely; we get a good sense of the locations described in the book. Gloria’s decisions are understandable and I enjoyed seeing how her relationship with Ava evolved over time; the gardening analogies are especially well done. Even though some aspects of the mystery seem pretty obvious, the story is still very suspenseful and fun to read.
Despite its faults, Sea Change is a fun read that will keep you turning the pages.