Title: The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate
Carolina Chronicles Book Three
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (30s), Literary, Fiction
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
From modern-day Roanoke Island to the sweeping backdrop of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny.
Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Gilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at the Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a Depression-era love story change everything?
The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate is a beautiful journey of self-discovery and healing for lead protagonist Whitney Monroe. This third installment in the delightful Carolina Chronicles can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend all of the books in the series.
Desperately trying to save the restaurant she co-owns with her cousin, Whitney’s life is further complicated after her stepfather, Clyde Fransczyk, falls and she is forced to confront the complicated past she has ignored since her mother’s death. Traveling to the Outer Banks to take care of her stepfather and the Excelsior, her family’s historic waterfront hotel, Whitney uncovers startling information about her family’s history that provides surprising insight into herself, her grandmother and her strained relationship with her stepfather. She also learns new information about her mother and her late in life marriage to Clyde that makes it very difficult to for her to go through with her plans to convince him to move into assisted living so she can sell the family hotel to an overzealous developer. Before Whitney can decide what she is going to do, the situation with the restaurants takes a dark turn and she is torn between preserving her family’s legacy and her duty to her loyal employees.
For the first time in her life, Whitney is on the verge of failure and with so many people counting on her, she is stubbornly fighting to keep the second restaurant from closing down. Her tenacity is admirable but her reasons for refusing to concede defeat are wrapped up in her guilt over making an impetuous business decision that could destroy what she and her cousin have worked so hard to create. This stubbornness extends to her attitude towards Clyde and it is incredibly frustrating watching Whitney refuse to consider other options for his care. She also seems incredibly short-sighted about her decision to continue the battle to keep the second restaurant afloat. She is so certain that she knows what is right that she remains on her chosen path long after she should have explored other options. Overall, Whitney is a likable but exasperating character who lets her fears and inability to trust prevent her from moving forward until she is forced to by outside influences.
Through a series of newly discovered letters written by her grandmother’s twin sister, Alice, Whitney learns intriguing information about the 1930’s Federal Writer’s Project. As one of the Project writers, Alice traveled to distant areas throughout Appalachia where she interviewed and gathered oral histories from as many people as possible for the program. This peek into a long forgotten piece of American history is incredibly fascinating but it also provides Whitney with a different viewpoint of her grandmother and how those long ago events shaped her into the woman she came to know. She also sees how her mother’s past experiences influenced her decisions later in life and this new perspective helps Whitney make peace with her loss.
The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate is an incredibly well-written and compelling novel of redemption. It is a marvelous tale that weaves fact and fiction into an enthralling story of love and healing that I highly recommend to old and new fans of the Carolina Chronicles.