Author Karen White keeps her stories in the South with her latest novel Sea Change. This one takes place in St. Simons Island, Georgia, one of the Georgia's beautiful coastal cities. The charm and ambiance of this place adds to the richness of White's storytelling.
This time out White tells a story that is a mix of the real and the mystical. With overtones of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier lingering in the background, White sends her lead character Ava Whalen to St. Simons Island with her new husband Matthew Frazier. Once she arrives in this city she begins to learn more and more about her husband's past.
There is a first wife, Adrienne, who she never knew existed, and there is the strange fact she, like Ava, was a professional midwife. Later Ava meets Adrienne's brother John and learns that his family blames Matthew for Adrienne's untimely death. She was in a car wreck and drowned, leaving her family and Matthew devastated. John wants Ava to help him find out "the real story."
While all of this is unfolding, Ava begins to feel a familiarity with places and things at St Simons Island. It is as if she has lived here before and all of this knowledge is coming from the person she used to be. She even has her husband hypnotize her, which leads to her inadvertently gaining insight into this condition.
How much you enjoy this book depends to a large extent on how receptive you are to the idea of past lives. If you reject that idea totally then you might not enjoy the novel as much as planned. Possible reincarnation does play a big part in the plot. However, there are other surprises not related to past lives that White has in store for you. They are good ones you probably didn't see coming.
Karen White's ability to create life-like and enjoyable characters is her biggest asset. You get to know these people in detail which allows them to become acquaintances and good friends. Her main weakness is her over description of the locale. You get too much detail and in some places it blocks the flow of the story.
Still everything about the book has a purpose towards the overall impact of the story. Ava is on a collision course with her past, and how she reacts to what she learns will measure the probabilities of her future happiness. The reader travels with her on this journey and is invested in the outcome.
If you have enjoyed Karen White's books in the past then you will also enjoy this one. It wasn't one of my absolute favorites but it did hold my interest from start to finish and that is saying a lot.
Sea Change is published by NAL Accent. It contains 416 pages and sells for $16.00.
Jackie K Cooper