The Sea Keeper’s Daughters – Lisa Wingate (4-4.5 Stars) Lisa Wingate’s most recent novel, The Sea Keeper’s Daughters, builds upon her prior novels of the Carolina Heirlooms series. Whitney Monroe spent her childhood summers working at her family’s hotel on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While grappling with her father’s untimely death, Whitney and her mother forged a tumultuous relationship with her grandmother. As an adult, Whitney views the Excelsior Hotel as a much-needed inheritance that has the power to save her Michigan-based restaurant. However, she never imagined the outpouring of dissent regarding the historic building’s demise, as the structure’s tenants fight to preserve the hotel for their businesses and a nonprofit that has the power to turnaround the area’s failure of its youth. In Whitney’s desperate attempt to find heirlooms worth saving or selling, she uncovers a mystery that has lasted for generations. Through the story of her great-aunt’s work with the WPA folklore writers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Whitney comes to realize the incredible work of God’s faithfulness in her own life and across generations of her family. Overall, I ended up greatly enjoying The Sea Keeper’s Daughters. However, I found the pacing and my general interest in the novel to vary throughout sections of the book. The novel focuses its earlier chapters almost exclusively around Whitney’s present-day story, which were far less compelling and slower than the rest of the novel. As Ms. Wingate incorporated an increasing amount of historically-based material around Whitney’s great aunt and the WPA folklore writers, the novel significantly changed to a faster pace and became an absolutely fascinating story to read. Consequently, it is challenging to give an overall rating of The Sea Keeper’s Daughters. While the first portion of the book was hard to get through (even for a very fast-paced reader), the historical aspects and the second half of the novel were inspired and would rank among one of the best novels of the year. It is based on those incredible highlights of this novel that I will likely be reading Ms. Wingate’s The Story Keeper and The Prayer Box in the near future. Special thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for an advanced copy of The Sea Keeper’s Daughters! Thanks!
“Without even realizing it, The Excelsior and I had stepped into a local news hotbed. Somewhere in there, Alice’s letters niggled, too. What had she learned about the necklaces and the Melungeon women who wore them?” Whitney questions in Lisa Wingate’s novel, The Sea Keeper’s Daughters. Another Carolina Heirlooms novel, this four hundred and forty-eight page paperback targets those who enjoy historical fiction involving cultural biases, hidden pasts, and complicated family dynamics. With one slang word, the topics of racism, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. This reader wishes all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence. In this current-day story written in first person, thirty-eight-year-old single Whitney Monroe keeps busy running two restaurants in Michigan with her cousin. When her world collides due to one of the high-end eateries being targeted for a take-over, she must find funds quickly to keep it afloat. Knowing years ago she inherited a rundown historical building in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, she takes a trip to see if her grandmother or mother’s belongings can be sold to keep her businesses’ doors open. There is only one problem: her ornery stepfather lives on the third floor of the old building that also leases to several retail tenants on the first floor. Purposely keeping her distance from her gruff relative and one renter in particular, Whitney gleans what she can from the long-untouched rooms on the second floor. When she finds an old necklace, brooch, and scrimshaw carving along with letters from a woman she never knew existed, her life becomes more complicated. Learning about the poverty of the Appalachian people during the Depression, the young woman who needs to stop running from and to things wonders what happens to the Melungeons and if they are connected to the Lost Colony. Tying her previous novel, The Story Keeper, into this account, Wingate shows how one woman’s insecurity in making decisions can be challenged through another’s history. With an abrupt ending that has a confusing twist, Wingate keeps the reader guessing if Whitney will find happiness. Author, magazine columnist, and speaker, Wingate has written over twenty novels. Nominee and winner of several writing awards, she concentrates on Southern backgrounds and history in her storytelling. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinions.
If I could give it more stars I would! I was privileged to be a part of the Sisterhood of the traveling book and was able to read a pre-publication copy and what an honor it was! I truly fell in love with this book. The wisdom that was imparted through the characters in this novel is so real and practical that I had to keep writing in my journal, as I reflected on the truth's that were put forth. I went on a roller coaster ride with Whitney, the main character as she worked out her inner hurts and the turmoil as her life starts to fall apart around her. As I neared the end of the book and saw that I only had a few pages left, I kept thinking, "Oh, no, we're going to be left hanging and having to wait for the sequel". But, what a surprise awaited! I got goose bumps and tears streamed down my face! Yes, I would say this one really got my adrenaline going! It's my new all time favorite now. Highly recommend it.
This is a trip back in time to the once prestigious hotel Whitney's family owned, which now belongs to her. Many decisions are to be made about what the hotel can do for her, and what she can do for the hotel. Included are mystery, intrigue, history and very detailed letters from the past, written by a member of the Federal Writers' Project. The story weaves two timelines together through those letters, bringing a great deal of interest to the protagonist and her family. I had no idea this was part of a series of books. It reads very easily as a standalone, and swept me away from Michigan to the Outer Banks and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Characters are strong, diverse, and numerous, but easy to follow as they are encountered. I loved the history and the stories of the very small group of people referred to as the Melungeons. Information obtained about these people is well researched and documented. I thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat complicated book, a lengthy one. The plot developed at a pace that kept my attention throughout. It was difficult to put the book down as clues to the past led to a better understanding of the present. The main character frustrated me at times, but that is "who she is." She was clearly defined as her personality is as real as any other individual's. I highly recommend this interesting and entertaining book! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from The Book Club Network For Readers Only program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
Touching is defined as arousing strong feelings of sympathy, appreciation, or gratitude. In my opinion, it describes a Lisa Wingate book! In The Sea Keeper’s Daughters, Whitney Monroe is struggling to save her restaurant business, in Michigan. When she receives a phone call, telling her her stepfather, Clyde, has been hospitalized, she must return to North Carolina (a place she hasn’t been since her mother’s death) and the property she inherited. The Excelsior had been a Gilded Age hotel, owned by her grandmother, Ziltha, who Whitney remembered as a cold, bitter woman. Now, falling into disrepair, the building is home to Clyde (inhabiting the third floor), the second floor holds stored family items and the first floor is commercial tenant space. Clyde is combative, the tenants anxious and Whitney finds herself torn. Is it time to displace Clyde and sell the property, to save her business? Searching the second floor, Whitney discovers hidden family heirlooms and letters written by a relative she never knew about. Alice, Ziltha’s twin sister, had been a member of the WPA’s Federal Writer’s Project, during the 30s. Alice’s letters, to Ziltha, describe her travels through the Blue Ridge mountains (along with her companion, Thomas) and her discoveries about the Melungeon people. The story of Alice, Thomas and a young Melungeon girl, Able, become the focal point of the story. As Whitney unravels the past, she must come to terms with the present and make decisions about her own life and future. An ending, I did not see coming, was emotionally powerful. I love Lisa Wingate’s ability to blend fact and fiction, past and present, into a thought-provoking journey! Thanks, to NetGalley/Tyndale, for allowing me to read an advance copy of this wonderful book!
A shroud of mystery surrounds the mystic tri-racial Melungeons, thought by many to have descended from the historic "lost colony" of coastal North Carolina; making their elusive residence high in the Blue Ridge mountains and avoiding civilization, being the objects of cruel misconceptions and brutal treatment. Who would have the courage to trace their story, when it appears that their story might be safer kept untold? Whitney Monroe is desperate, her once promising career in the restaurant business is on thin ice, having been intimidated by local Michigan residents who are resisting the high end competition that her eatery represents. As if life could not get any more complicated, she receives word that her estranged stepfather is in the hospital, miles away on Hatteras Island. Travelling to the Outer Banks of North Carolina takes Whitney on a much different journey that she could have ever anticipated, especially when she begins to unearth family heirlooms with a connection to history that tangles her in a web of controversy over historical properties and personal preferences. Will her fear of love destroy everything that she is beginning to hold dear or will she trust the Keeper of the sea to ordain her steps as of one of His daughters; free to embrace a very promising future? This novel is filled to over flowing with gems of inspiration and encouragement, not to mention the fascinating historical back story; connecting the narrative with the Federal Writers Program that was initiated by Eleanor Roosevelt during years of economic depression. "The Sea Keeper's Daughters" is the kind of book that belongs on every shelf! I am grateful to the publisher who provided me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.