The Ocean in Winter
Elizabeth de Veer
reviewed by Marialyce Weinreich
Everyone is set adrift with the death of a family member. But if what if that person was your mother? What if she committed suicide? A death like this can set a life going in directions never imagined.
Such is the fate of the three sisters: Alex, Colleen, and Riley. All three have grown to womanhood without the benefit of their artistic mother. Their father did his best, but he was reclusive and withdrawn, never really sharing or actually knowing his wife’s past. And that’s where the mystery comes to play. Each of the girls have been hit with emotional, heartbreaking events they need to come to terms with. And why they ask? Why did their beautiful artistic mother kill herself in the family bathtub, leaving her oldest daughter to find her? Were these girls not good enough for her mother to love and not leave?
Alex, the oldest, left at the tender age of eleven, is destined to mother her younger sisters. Grown to womanhood, she became an ER nurse but recently quit her job, after finding out some devastating news about her health. Traveling in India, looking to get lost or maybe find that elusive peace, she learns she has inherited a house near the ocean, from a woman she met and struck up an acquaintance with on a bus. Forced to return home, to deal with this development, she gets in touch with her sister, Colleen, who is starting down the painful path to divorce. Always, the sister who seemed to have it all, the two children, a successful husband, and a gorgeous home, she knows in her heart that this was inevitable, but the hurt is only compounded when her home suffers a terrible fire.
Then there is the youngest sister, Riley. Beautiful. Once even a successful runway model. Her life is in shambles as she travels the dark road of drug and alcohol addiction, a very dark road indeed where she has cut herself off from her sisters and travels the roadway to destruction alone.
The house Alex inherits is ramshackle, but within its walls, Alex hears things: voices and then footsteps that add a sense of the unknown. Yet, she attributes it to mundane causes. When a terrible storm ravages the East Coast, Alex once again is alerted to the strange goings on in her home. Suddenly, Alex hears a knock on her door. Opening it to Riley, Alex is taken with a million questions. How did Riley know where she lived? How did she arrive in the midst of a storm? They speak and Riley shares with Alex a terrible secret, but questions surge as Riley leaves asking Alex the final question of “If she could, would she save a child?”
This tale of love, loss, grief, and connections is one that could shatter your heartstrings. It is a saga of family turmoil that hints of the supernatural—a world of spirits that try to alert of danger, the past, and the way forward.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this story due out July 6, 2021.