Sea Change

Sea Change

4.1 58
by Karen White

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For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island means a new beginning. But what she doesn’t realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever…


For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging,

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For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island means a new beginning. But what she doesn’t realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever…


For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging, and now, at thirty-four, she still feels stymied by her family. Then she meets child psychologist Matthew Frazier, and thinks her days of loneliness are behind her. After a whirlwind romance, they impulsively elope, and Ava moves to Matthew’s ancestral home on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.

But after the initial excitement, Ava is surprised to discover that true happiness continues to elude her. There is much she doesn’t know about Matthew, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death. And her new home seems to hold as many mysteries and secrets as her new husband. Feeling adrift, Ava throws herself into uncovering Matthew’s family history and that of the island, not realizing that she has a connection of her own to this place—or that her obsession with the past could very well destroy her future.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This latest novel by White (The Beach Trees) interweaves the stories of Ava and Pamela. Ava has just profoundly disappointed her mother by running off to marry Matthew after knowing him for only two months—despite her four-year engagement to Phil. Ava's mother, Gloria, has always been distant, but her refusal even to say good-bye rattles Ava to the core. Two hundred years in the past, during James Madison's War (or the War of 1812 as we now know it), we meet Pamela and her family. As a midwife and one of the few with medical/herbal knowledge on St. Simon's Island, GA, Pamela works not only to bring the children of St. Simons safely into the world but also to combat malaria. She befriends a British doctor occupying the island to obtain the medicine she needs to treat her family; however, their friendship becomes the undoing of her tenuous life. How these stories intersect, as surely they must, unnerves not only the characters but the reader as well. VERDICT White entwines historical fact and research seamlessly through the lives of these strong and intriguing women. Although Sea Change is not as compelling as Anita Shreve's The Weight of Water, fans of the latter will be drawn to this story. [National tour.]—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead
Kirkus Reviews
A new bride who moves to St. Simons, a Georgia barrier island, finds that she has deeper ties to her home than she ever suspected. Ava, the only daughter of a funeral director, shocks her family, especially her mother, Gloria, with her whirlwind marriage to Matthew Frazier, whom she met at a medical conference (she's a midwife, he's a pediatric psychologist) only months before. Gloria can't bring herself to speak to her daughter, much to the chagrin of Ava's 90-plus grandmother Mimi. The marriage is especially baffling to Gloria because Ava, with her lifelong water phobia and persistent nightmares of drowning, will be living in the seaside house which has been in the Frazier family for centuries. Once she's carried over the threshold, the mysteries of the old, though immaculately renovated, house, and the island it's on, crowd in on Ava. Among them: Why didn't Matthew ever mention his first wife, Adrienne, an artist? What did John, Adrienne's brother, mean when he says his family thinks Matthew killed Adrienne, when her death (by drowning after her car went over a bridge) was clearly an accident? Why does Matthew keep hiding Adrienne's papers and memorabilia from Ava? As Tish, a family friend, encourages Ava to do historical research about the Fraziers, Ava begins to suspect that her visceral attraction to Matthew may only be explainable as a carry-over from a former life. But whose? Occasional interspersed chapters, set in the early 1800s, provide a clue, as Matthew's ancestor Geoffrey and his wife Pamela (a midwife herself) deal with sterility, resentful siblings and infidelity. Further perplexing puzzles: How did Ava sustain fractures before the age of two? Why did her family, who once lived on St. Simons, move inland? Who originally owned a music box blown in by a tornado and an ancient wedding band inscribed "Forever?" Although the narrative can be painfully slow, White skillfully juggles the deceptions that nurture the novel's enigmas, until the surprising truth emerges.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years


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Sea Change 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
Add this book to your summer reading list. Seriously. Do it! Sea Change by Karen White is a mixture of mystery, romance, and history. Ava Whalen has been afraid of water since she was a baby. Nobody knows or understands why. Ava's mom, Gloria, loves her but has always been standoffish towards Ava. Pamela lived 200 years before in the same St. Simons Island house as Ava and her new husband, Matthew Frazier. The story is told from all three women's point of view. Ava and Matthew married after a whirlwind romance. They decide to move to the coastal town of St. Simons. They move into Mathew's ancestral home. They are both eager to start their new lives together. On their first night there, Ava learns that Matthew has been married before. She is upset that such a big detail was withheld from her. Eager to know more about his first wife, Ava starts to uncover some disturbing details about the mysterious death of Mathew's first wife, Adrienne. Ava digs deeper to find out if the man she loves could be responsible for Adrienne's death. Ava and Adrienne also share an obsession about a mystery that happened over 200 years ago on the island. Meanwhile Ava's mother, Gloria, is devastated that Ava moved to the island. Gloria and Ava have always had a strained relationship. Since moving to the island, it has become even more so. Secrets are being kept from all sides. Sea Change is a great read. It's reminiscent of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It has the same mysterious, haunted feel that Rebecca holds. The journeys from the past to the present are fascinating as the story unfolds. The characters are fantastic. White keeps you guessing on who to trust. One of my favorite characters is Mimi. She's Ava's ninety-one year old grandmother. Despite her age, she has no intention of slowing down. She's a feisty, spirited woman that made me laugh. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Ava Whalen Frazier has just gotten married. Her mother is none to happy. She barely knows her husband, Matthew and to top it off she is moving to St. Simons Island. And here is the thing, Ava is deathly afraid of the water. Her mother is so upset she won’t even come out to say goodbye to her only daughter. But Ava is in love, feels such a deep strong connection to Matthew. Ava’s family is so tightly knit. She seems to be the adventurous one. After arriving on the Island, Ava meets her new home. Matthew’s home is an ancestral home filled with the past, and with secrets. Before she even gets her feet on the ground Ava begins to find out just how little she knows about the man she has just married. Like he was married before and there are questions about his wife’s death. Ava begins digging into the past to find out what she can, but ends up becoming obsessed with the past. The novel mostly focuses on Ava, but you will also read about Pamela. Pamela is in the past, but her story moves forward filled with mystery. White also has chapters of Ava’s mother Gloria. It’s hard to figure out how and where all these story pieces are going, but when it comes together! OH MY GOODNESS! I was SHOCKED! Just SHOCKED! This is the only time I’ve ever said this, but I wish I could read SEA CHANGE again for the first time. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like alll of Karen White's books, this one is a winner. You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island means a new beginning. But what she doesn't realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever. Have read all Karen White's books, as love the Atlanta author; however this one was not quite as good as her usual works. Moves back and forth from the historic 1800's, to the mother and daughter- a little slow moving.
shmeyers More than 1 year ago
Another great one by Karen White. A mix of mystery, history, romance and a few ghosts.
Darlene28 More than 1 year ago
I love the way Karen draws you into her books so that you are right there with the characters and this book did not disappoint. Sea Change is about secrets of the past and secrets of the present and how they effect lives. I love all of Karen White's books and devour them. Really good read!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me turning every page and wanting more, more, more!! I couldn't stop from trying to figure everything out through the whole book. Although it has some hardships I was satisfied with the ending. Can't wait to read more books by this author.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
Sea Change is a very good book and keeps you guessing at every turn. Just when you think you have it figured out, you find out that you don't. I loved how Ms. White weaves the story between modern day and back to the War of 1812. The author does an amazing job with character development and the secrets that they hold. I would really recommend that you pick up this new release.
bschiemer More than 1 year ago
This book will draw the reader in with characters who are real people. Something about the story line will strike you as familiar yet the direction it takes will surprise you! The author paints with love and affection the beautiful scenery of the coastal sea island. If your heart is at the beach even when your body isn't, you will love this book. Cuodos to the author for this book which crosses many different genres and she found acceptance!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great. It was one of those books where you find it difficult to put down. The characters are likeable, even loveable, especially Mimi and Tish. The storylines continue to build and meld leaving you wanting more, to the point where you just can't put it down because you need to know "why?". Have the tissues handy....
MinaD1 More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in recent years After a whirlwind romance with child psychologist Matthew Frazier, newly-wed Ava Whalen, thirty-five years old midwife from Antioch, moves in her husband’s ancestral home on the lovely St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. While trying to adjust to the new environment and to her new life as a married woman, she stumbles across secrets and ghosts that have deep roots in the past (about a century) and grave repercussions in the present. Not only she finds out that her husband has been previously married to another midwife, that he is a widower and that his former wife’s family believes him to be somehow responsible for their daughter’s accidental death. She also experiences a strong and inexplicable sense of connection with her husband’s family history and first wife Adrienne. Matthew’s attempts to conceal and destroy every remaining trace of Adrienne from their home, fuel Ava’s suspicions , but it will be Matthew himself, despite his reluctancy and secretive attitude, to ultimately enable Ava to fulfill her destiny. With his help she will unveil her elusive past and unlock the secrets that link her to Matthew’s ancestor Pamela Frazier, a midwife who fell victim of her jealous sister’s schemes and died tragically, leaving behind her beloved husband, Geoffry Frazier, and their son. Sea Change is one of the best books I have read in years. It warmed my heart and tugged at all the emotional strings that a piece of literary fiction can possibly tug at. So good I didn't want it to end. Narrated from three different points of view (Ava’s, her mother’s Gloria, and Pamela’s), this engrossing tale of love ‘lost and regained’ unfolds on multiple chronological shifts between 2011 and 1812. Despite the multi-layered narrative style, I never felt thrown off-balance: the switches between narrating voices and the swaying of their memories felt natural like the gentle rolling of the sea waves...the sea, ever silent protagonist and backdrop of the Frazier family’s tragedies. Karen White’s writing style has a distinctive lyrical quality. I utterly enjoyed the Southern setting with all the charm of an island with a strong historical identity. White’s reach prose and detailed descriptions are very powerful and evocative: the vivid descriptions of Matthew’s ancestral home, the island’s unique flora, the cemetery, the lighthouse, create a solid bridge between written words and visual images. This heart-pounding mystery provided a very insightful analysis of family dynamics ( the delicate bond and trust issues between newly-wed husband and wife, the complexity of a mother-daughter conflictual love, jealousy and antagonism between sisters) and for their depth and poignancy they appealed to me and got me misty-eyed even more than the paranormal twist of the storyline. Of all the characters, the one that troubled me the most is Ava’s husband, Matthew. It felt to me like he was the weakest link in the story, although he turns out to be the one who holds the keys (literally and figuratively) of the secret doors that our characters will need to open, in order to shed light on the past and be able to move on. I cannot quite understand why he goes to such lengths to hide the real motivations behind his secretive behavior, when he could have and should have been open with Ava from the start. My guess is that the author used this character and his lack of transparency mainly to enhance the suspense element of the story. Some of his choices remain questionable for me, questionable and forgivable like many human behaviours are when love is at stake and we are not willing to take chances. What he demands of his wife is a huge leap of faith and luckily for him, Ava is a great character, with a heart twice the size of Georgia and the guts of somebody who’s willing to take chances for the sake of what she loves the most. As for Gloria, Ava’s mother’s, her inner conflicts touched the cords of my heart…as a mother I cannot but understand and sympathize with her. Despite the very imaginative foundation of this book (karma and reincarnation themes), the storyline is very fetching and the suspension-of-disbelief not difficult to reach at all: emotions and feelings are so well rendered that the entire narration wrenched my heart and swept me off my feet. Love for her husband and son is what brings Pamela to death and what will bring her back in Ava’s life a century later. Love is what brings Gloria and Matthew to hide some truths in order to protect Ava. In the end, love seems to be the great motivator, the engine behind questionable, courageous, and fateful decisions, able to cheat death and defy time in an endless alternation of ends and beginnings. Posted by Mina at 3:28 PM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook
mastkat More than 1 year ago
Definitely a page turner. Have read many by this Author! Love her style, how she pulls you into the book and keeps you guessing!
planopeggy More than 1 year ago
Loved the book! Well worth reading! I've read several books by this author and Sea Change is one of my favorites. It is a good book for a book club.
msdolan More than 1 year ago
Good read but long story. It took too long to get to the point. I do like Karen White's stories. She has a great imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very intresting! It keeps you questioning throughout the book "whats going to happen next?". And i love it because its a great love story. You can see the love between Ava and Matthew. I love it too beacause it doesnt have sexual scenes in it like all the other books do. Its just an old fashion love/mystery story. With a very good story plot. GOOD JOB KAREN WHITE!!!!
Tanya2011 More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a book by this author I haven't liked. This book has great characters and family secrets going back generations. I highly recommend her Tradd Street series as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A modern day Rebecca without Mrs. Danvers but with plenty of extra ghosts!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I still have about 100 pages, but really like the book. Would just sit and read it if I had the time.
bongie More than 1 year ago
I enjoy all of Karen White's books and this one was among the very best. I had a difficult time putting it down with all the things going on. Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He sits, smoking. He blows it out and walks away.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Aubrey Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I really loved this book in that the main character is a midwife which is my dream job. She is strong in many ways but weak in others. Her husband Matthew was a lot more elusive and harder to like. The characters of the novel were well thought out and very textured. You really got to know them and love them. While reading this novel I actually felt like I was a part of the story and involved with the characters rather than just reading the novel. The author did an excellent job at weaving in and out of the present and the past to tell a story that was filled with mystery and intrigue that left you guessing from beginning to end. I like the fact that the novel was told from different times and from different voices. It made the story seem more believable and alive. You have the present story of Ava and Matthew and the past of Pamela and Geoffrey. Both past and present stories were needed to tell the tell of loss and redemption on St. Simons Island. I was impressed at how much I liked this book because it is not my usual preferred genre to read in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but not her best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago