Sea of Memories
When Kendra first visits her ailing grandmother, Ella has only one request: that Kendra write her story down, before she forgets…In 1937, seventeen-year-old Ella’s life changes forever when she is sent to spend the summer on the beautiful Île de Ré and meets the charismatic, creative Christophe. They spend the summer together, exploring the island’s sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, and, for the first time in her life, Ella feels truly free.But the outbreak of war casts everything in a new light. Ella is forced to return to Scotland, where she volunteers for the war effort alongside the dashing Angus. In this new world, Ella feels herself drifting further and further from who she was on the Île de Ré. Can she ever find her way back? And does she want to?From the windswept Île de Ré to the rugged hills of Scotland, Sea of Memories is a spellbinding journey about the power of memory, love and second chances.

Sea of Memories Details

TitleSea of Memories
Author
ReleaseMar 1st, 2018
PublisherLake Union Publishing
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Cultural, France

Sea of Memories Review

  • Renita D'Silva
    January 1, 1970
    I love this author's books - she is one of my favourite authors - and so I was eagerly awaiting this book. And what an amazing read! Gorgeous evocative writing that spills from the page transporting the reader to another place and time. Every character came alive for me and I felt for Ella but my favourites were Finn and Christophe. Another absolutely fabulous story from an incredibly talented author. A spell binding tale that will stay with me for a long time.
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  • Nancy Baker
    January 1, 1970
    Perception is everything. An adult looks at a pebble on the sidewalk and sees just that -- a pebble. A child looks at that same pebble and sees a sizable rock. Another person looking through a magnifying glass looks at that pebble and sees a huge boulder. All perceptions feel right to each person, and as much as their views differ, they are all looking at the same thing. So it is with human relationships. We have an innate ability to read what we want into a conversation, a human gesture or a pe Perception is everything. An adult looks at a pebble on the sidewalk and sees just that -- a pebble. A child looks at that same pebble and sees a sizable rock. Another person looking through a magnifying glass looks at that pebble and sees a huge boulder. All perceptions feel right to each person, and as much as their views differ, they are all looking at the same thing. So it is with human relationships. We have an innate ability to read what we want into a conversation, a human gesture or a person's actions. This was a story of Ella's life - seen from her eyes, seen from her daughter's eyes and seen from her granddaughter's eyes. The story is the same for all, plus or minus a few details, but their perceptions of who Ella is/was all differ. Ella is laying in a nursing home in the much latter part of her life. She has been estranged from her daughter for many years. Her granddaughter visits and Ella asks her to transcribe her recorded life's story. It is a sweet story; it is a sad story; and it is a misunderstood story -- all the same story, but different perceptions. There was much to love and much to learn about Ella's approach to life, happiness and her life's calling. My favorite paragraph in the book talked about the difference in a parent's love for their child and a spouse's love for their partner. It came fairly early in the story, but it spoke volumes and was the resonating voice throughout the pages that followed. "The love that you have for your children, that is the only pure and simple kind. It's overwhelming, instinctive, absolute. But it sits alongside the love that you have for your partner, which is another kind of love entirely. That's anything but simple; it's far more complicated; and yet it's the love that we chose, meaning it should really be the easiest one of all, so why do we make it the hardest?"
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  • Katya
    January 1, 1970
    Sea of memories2.5*This book is a good example of how a very beautifully written novel can also be very shallow and trivial.How can I describe it? Like a good-looking cake (very classy, stunning and lovely decoration), but without any distinctive taste (as if you are eating a honeycomb.).I really, really liked the descriptions in the book – a fine mixture of beautifully written words. I felt however that the author tried too hard to draw an impressive mesmerizing picture, forgetting to put some Sea of memories2.5*This book is a good example of how a very beautifully written novel can also be very shallow and trivial.How can I describe it? Like a good-looking cake (very classy, stunning and lovely decoration), but without any distinctive taste (as if you are eating a honeycomb.).I really, really liked the descriptions in the book – a fine mixture of beautifully written words. I felt however that the author tried too hard to draw an impressive mesmerizing picture, forgetting to put some content on the way. On the outside everything was perfect. But when it comes down to the emotions, to the turmoil the characters are going through, to the tumultuous undercurrents, swiping away one’s soul, there is a long way to go.I couldn’t feel the passion. For me the characters were a little bit too plastic, too soulless, and vacant.As I was reading through the book, I was thinking that it could be said more simply, but in the meanwhile more accurate, deeper, “cutting edge”-ly kind of a way.The story is as old as the world – one girl, two boys. The first love. The lasting love. The dream. The reality. The illusion. The mundaneness.At the end, I still couldn’t relate to the characters, couldn’t believe in them.Sorry, but I expected more.
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  • Greta Halliday
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this book and did not put it down until the last page had been read. This poignant and beautifully written story really tugs at the heart strings and totally immerses you. It is one of the best books I have read for a while and one that I will be re- reading in the near future. A story of lives, love and loss is a must read., the writing is superb.
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  • Jacqueline
    January 1, 1970
    I have waited a long time for a new release from Fiona, her previous three novels, set among the Bordeaux vineyards, were great reads so I was initially a little worried about the possibility of disappointment, if this new novel didn’t live up to my expectations. Thankfully Sea of Memories, although totally different to her previous books, didn’t disappoint in the slightest.Set partially among the sand dunes and Atlantic coast beaches of the Ile de Ré, just off the coast from La Rochelle, this b I have waited a long time for a new release from Fiona, her previous three novels, set among the Bordeaux vineyards, were great reads so I was initially a little worried about the possibility of disappointment, if this new novel didn’t live up to my expectations. Thankfully Sea of Memories, although totally different to her previous books, didn’t disappoint in the slightest.Set partially among the sand dunes and Atlantic coast beaches of the Ile de Ré, just off the coast from La Rochelle, this book also takes us to Paris and Scotland as it covers the years when Europe was torn apart by war and the lives of three young friends Ella, Caroline and Christophe were changed forever. This is a story of love in its many different forms, including grief and pain, and of the realisation of what love truly means, that only comes with age and wisdom. It is so beautifully written you will cry.Art is a big theme running through this book and we meet artists whose creations are brought to life through Fiona’s words, but woven cleverly throughout are also the topics of women at war, the SOE missions into Occupied France, works of art being hidden during the war years, the plight of the Jews, childhood polio, family feuds and autism. This may sound like a lot of things to pack into one book, but it works, as each theme is treated with respect and sensitivity.I consumed every page, always hungry for more; more of Ella’s story set in the past, more from the beautiful Ile de Ré and more of Kendra’s story today, as she painstakingly sorts through her grandmother’s memories and pieces together a life that is filled with love and loss, all the while living with her own troubled emotions.Writing this review in those mushy emotional hours that sometimes hit you when you have just finished a great book, I would go so far as to say this book is a work of art in its own right and must be added to your reading list.
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  • Little My
    January 1, 1970
    Whilst I did really enjoy this novel and the descriptions of France I felt in trying to cover the entirety of one person's life meant that the characters became somewhat diluted. At times I felt disappointed that some of the main character's experiences were dealt with in a chapter when they could in fact have been books in their own right. But still a very enjoyable read.
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  • Cari
    January 1, 1970
    Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy was the first book in quite some time that made me ugly cry myself into quite the intense headache, but despite that (or maybe because of that) I found it to be an absolutely lovely reading experience. Much of the novel takes place on the Île de Ré island off the shore of France, which is about as picturesque and serene as a setting can possibly be; however, the tranquility of the island (like all of Europe) was disrupted by the bombs and violence of World War II. Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy was the first book in quite some time that made me ugly cry myself into quite the intense headache, but despite that (or maybe because of that) I found it to be an absolutely lovely reading experience. Much of the novel takes place on the Île de Ré island off the shore of France, which is about as picturesque and serene as a setting can possibly be; however, the tranquility of the island (like all of Europe) was disrupted by the bombs and violence of World War II. The story alternates between the past on the Île de Ré (as well as Paris and various other European locations during and closely following the war) and present day Scotland, where a young woman visits her elderly grandmother in a nursing home. Feeling that her death is drawing near, the grandmother begins to record her memories of the time before and after the war so that her granddaughter can transcribe them, which is how we are taken back in time, upon a sea of memories. This was a very memorable tale of loss, lasting love, and the power of forgiveness. It certainly tugged at my heart strings and reminded me of why I have always loved historical fiction so dearly.
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  • caroline Sowersby
    January 1, 1970
    The right time to read a storyI have lost my little brother ( He was 75!! but still my little brother) So many things touched me in the book We were brought up in Edinburgh My brother was a patient in Princess Margaret Rose Hospital Lots of things and places spoke to me.He died while I was reading your story this week . I am not sad as I have faith Thank you for your sensitive writing
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  • Suze Lavender
    January 1, 1970
    Kendra's grandmother is old and doesn't have long to live anymore, but she has one last wish. She wants Kendra to write down her memories. Kendra has a busy life, being the breadwinner at home and taking care of her autistic son, but she's intrigued by her grandmother's request and decides to give it everything she has. Ella's lead an interesting life and before Kendra knows it she's entirely enthralled by her grandmother's story.It's 1938 and seventeen-year-old Ella is excited. She's going to F Kendra's grandmother is old and doesn't have long to live anymore, but she has one last wish. She wants Kendra to write down her memories. Kendra has a busy life, being the breadwinner at home and taking care of her autistic son, but she's intrigued by her grandmother's request and decides to give it everything she has. Ella's lead an interesting life and before Kendra knows it she's entirely enthralled by her grandmother's story.It's 1938 and seventeen-year-old Ella is excited. She's going to France for the summer. On Île de Ré she can improve her French by spending time with twins her own age. She immediately falls in love with Christophe, who teaches Ella about beauty, freedom and art. He's a brilliant artist, but his father has other plans for him. The weeks they have together are glorious and Ella's sad when she has to go home and promises she will return to him next summer, which is exactly what she does. Their time together is precious, as Europe is on the brink of war and Ella has no idea what will happen to them in the future.Ella can't stay in France and Christophe joins the army. There's no way for them to be together and they lose contact. Ella can't sit still and do nothing, she wants to contribute and joins the WAAF. There she meets Angus, a man who would do anything to keep her safe. Ella's life with Christophe seems like a dream, a memory she will cherish forever and due to the war she will never get it back. She has to move on and look at the future, but will she be able to do it? Can she ever leave Île de Ré and everything it meant behind her?Sea of Memory is a beautiful poignant story. I was greatly impressed by this deep and multilayered love story. Because of the war Ella loses the love of her life and this is something she will never completely get over. She isn't complete when she's in Scotland, even though there's a lot of love in her life. Her time on Île de Ré has left a lasting impression. It was truly special and these memories made me smile and brought tears to my eyes at the same time, because there was so much to lose. The war has brought misery and unrest, but there was also bravery, selflessness and community spirit and Fiona Valpy has perfectly translated these subjects into a fantastic story.Sea of Memory is tragic and sad, but also hopeful and filled with unconditional love, miracles and friendship. It's a bittersweet story that immediately found its way into my heart. Fiona Valpy's gorgeous descriptive writing style makes the story come to life in an amazing way. She effortlessly captures the magic of Île de Ré and I love how she skillfully creates her atmospheres. She combines this with a perfect thorough exploration of emotions. That makes Sea of Memory a terrific heart-rending story, it's a book that will stay with me for a very long time.
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  • Eileen
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 stars (liked it)I enjoyed this book. The author did a nice job with setting descriptions and crafting a story that was fulfilling overall. My one main wish was that the time spent on the modern storyline had instead been invested on further developing the older one.
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  • L F
    January 1, 1970
    Love is an everyday occurrence. This is a real page turner as it twists and turns it’s way to a wild island just off the French Coast. We follow a young British woman as she visits this magical place that will forever change her life just prior to WW II. The author explores different types of love as our protagonist discovers one must always hope, but not to an extent that you do not recognize the wonderful things already in your life. Later, in a effort to receive forgiveness from a daughter wh Love is an everyday occurrence. This is a real page turner as it twists and turns it’s way to a wild island just off the French Coast. We follow a young British woman as she visits this magical place that will forever change her life just prior to WW II. The author explores different types of love as our protagonist discovers one must always hope, but not to an extent that you do not recognize the wonderful things already in your life. Later, in a effort to receive forgiveness from a daughter who was hurt badly upon discovering a family secret, she enlists her talented granddaughter, Kendra to write a detailed memoir of her broad life. Grandmother Ella was a brave war hero, capable of having a multiple loving relationships and a wonderful mentor. You will love to love this women as the pages fly by and sad to leave her at the end.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Fiona Valpy is a new author to me but one I'm so glad I've discovered, I absolutely adored this book. I loved the journey we went on with the characters and I just loved the setting. This was the perfect book to read to escape life, I was fully immersed into the story whilst reading. This book is emotional, have some tissues at the ready when reading! The characters are so beautifully written and I just loved Fiona's writing style. This is a book where you need to dive in and be prepared to igno Fiona Valpy is a new author to me but one I'm so glad I've discovered, I absolutely adored this book. I loved the journey we went on with the characters and I just loved the setting. This was the perfect book to read to escape life, I was fully immersed into the story whilst reading. This book is emotional, have some tissues at the ready when reading! The characters are so beautifully written and I just loved Fiona's writing style. This is a book where you need to dive in and be prepared to ignore everyone and everything until you've read the last page. I will re-read this book in the future and I'm happy I've discovered Fiona's books - I will devour them in the future!
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    This is the life story of Ella as written by her granddaughter Kendra. But wait--It is amazing . Don't question buying this book. It gives you the feels. All of them! It ranks right up there with Lilac Girls and Sarah's Key. I loved it and look forward to more books from this new to me author. Thank you thank you Goodreads and Lake Union for picking me to review this.
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  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    Available on KindleUnlimited.This novel is a delightful novel of love and the second world war. It’s refreshingly free of swearing and offensive expletives. Ella is in her twilight years and asks her granddaughter, Kendra to write her story for posterity. The imagery swept me away. A love of nature is evident and so beautifully descriptive. It takes you to Ile de Re which sounds idyllic. The era of the 1940s is reflected well contrasting the beauty and tranquillity of the island compared to the Available on KindleUnlimited.This novel is a delightful novel of love and the second world war. It’s refreshingly free of swearing and offensive expletives. Ella is in her twilight years and asks her granddaughter, Kendra to write her story for posterity. The imagery swept me away. A love of nature is evident and so beautifully descriptive. It takes you to Ile de Re which sounds idyllic. The era of the 1940s is reflected well contrasting the beauty and tranquillity of the island compared to the atrocities of war. It’s a well-told romantic love story that evokes the senses without being tacky or crude. I admire the warmth and compassion threaded through the story. The first love between Christophe and Ella with its innocence, joy, hope, intensity and despair is especially poignant. I enjoyed the fascinating secret mission war work performed by Ella. The mention of Polio in the fifties took me way back to a time when political correctness wasn’t recognised, and people defined by their calliper. I recall seeing children with their awkward movements and a heavy calliper - often in the face of meanness and mockery from others. Most of them attended Open Air schools, but they were visible at times. I enjoyed the art theme enormously as it’s my passion too.
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  • Jayne Long
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read about first love, love won, love lost and how you don't always get what you want in life and how sometimes, you have what you need all along, but sometimes you don't always see it, but with maturity and some perspective you realize that what you had all along was exactly what you needed at that exact moment.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    4.5- loved it
  • Rebecca Stonehill
    January 1, 1970
    This was the first of Fiona Valpy's novels I have read and I was enormously impressed by this evocative and poignant novel. With a strong sense of place and first-rate, believable characterisation, I was swept along by Ella's story from beginning to end, hardly putting the book down. I really enjoyed the dual time scales as well - while at first I was unsure of the relevance of the modern setting, as the story unwound, I could see how Kendra's anxieties with her marriage and mothering gently mir This was the first of Fiona Valpy's novels I have read and I was enormously impressed by this evocative and poignant novel. With a strong sense of place and first-rate, believable characterisation, I was swept along by Ella's story from beginning to end, hardly putting the book down. I really enjoyed the dual time scales as well - while at first I was unsure of the relevance of the modern setting, as the story unwound, I could see how Kendra's anxieties with her marriage and mothering gently mirrored, in many ways, the experience of her grandmother many years before, helping to make the ending of the novel that bit more satisfying. Well done to Fiona Valpy and I look forward to reading many more of her books.
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  • Gail Atkins
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written book about love, friendship and relationships.A dying grandmother asks her granddaughter to write her memoirs of her time in France during the early stages of WW2, in a hope that her estranged daughter would read it and their rift would be healed.Secrets shared and heartache bond the two women, changing their lives forever.
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  • BrittanyElizabeth Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    WowWhat a beautiful read! This story really just grabs you and takes you on its journey with the characters. Such a beautiful story of loss, love, redemption, and hope. So gorgeously written that one can almost smell the salty French sea air, and feel the sunshine on your face. This is a story that won’t leave your mind for a long time. Definitely a Must read.
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  • Georgina Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, the descriptions of France were so well written and really took me there. I loved the story, how it goes back and forth to the past and the present day and just everything about the book in general. I even had a few tears at the end which to me is a sign of how much the book has moved me. First book I’ve read by Fiona and I’ll definitely look for more. Five stars
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  • Mircina
    January 1, 1970
    Unexpected delightI was not expecting this to be the wonderful sorry that ice just finished reading. I have fallen in love with Ella and her life story and have already looked up Il de Re as next year's holiday destination. Fantastic beautify written story x
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  • Bobbi
    January 1, 1970
    I gave this 5 stars and 4 tissues. This book is about 3 young people that meet in the summer of their 17th year and spend an idyllic time on an island off France. They become friends forever but WWII changes their lives completely... The years that follow are joyful, scary, sad, and sweet.
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  • Sheryljacobs2
    January 1, 1970
    This book is beautifully written, and I loved the descriptions of the beach and ocean.
  • Jayne Webster
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful.....What a beautiful story. It made me cry at the end so that tells me how good it was. Please read....
  • Alma Petterson
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I could not put it down I had to keep reading to find out what happens to every one. And I cried.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Touching story, beautifully beautifully written - sentences flow as a river!Very good read!
  • Meital Ben-Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    I read Ella's story with a trembling heart...Do not miss this book!
  • Priya Singh
    January 1, 1970
    There's something about war stories....you cannot not fall in love with them.Brilliant novel about love and loss, and finding meaning in life through second chances.
  • Vickie Copp
    January 1, 1970
    Brought me to tearsThis is a good book. Would recommend it to anyone .An eye opener to show how you can overcome any daily stress.
  • Mrs W D Huelin
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this bookI don’t do a lot of reading but because I was going away for a few days I thought I would download a couple onto my kindle. So glad a chose this one. Brilliant from start to finis. I actually felt like I was in France myself!! I hadn’t quite finished it before leaving my holiday and so was going to finish it on the flight back. I couldn’t in the end cos it was making me cry and got a bit embarrassing so have just finished it now when home. Will be seeking out Fiona’s other books. Loved this bookI don’t do a lot of reading but because I was going away for a few days I thought I would download a couple onto my kindle. So glad a chose this one. Brilliant from start to finis. I actually felt like I was in France myself!! I hadn’t quite finished it before leaving my holiday and so was going to finish it on the flight back. I couldn’t in the end cos it was making me cry and got a bit embarrassing so have just finished it now when home. Will be seeking out Fiona’s other books. Made me feel that I would like to write about my life story.
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