Cover Image: The Sea Gate

The Sea Gate

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I remember being completely and utterly enraptured by Jane Johnson’s sweeping tale, Court of Lions and this talented writer has outdone herself with The Sea Gate, a captivating, lyrical and emotionally satisfying read set in Cornwall that has echoes of Rosamunde Pilcher at her best.

When Becky loses her mother, she begins the sad and heart-breaking task of sorting through her empty flat. With a stack of post to wade through, Becky beings to look through them and is taken aback to find a letter with a Cornish post-mark that ends up changing her entire life forever. An elderly cousin of her mother’s, Olivia, has written an impassioned letter to Becky asking for her help to save Cynalls, the once grand and majestic house that has fallen to rack and ruin. With Olivia in hospital for an indefinite period of time, there is nobody left to restore Cynalls to its former glory compelling Becky to pack her bags and try to save this once sumptuous house and find out a bit more about a part of her family history shrouded in secrecy.

On arrival, Becky cannot help but feel daunted at the mammoth task ahead of her, but having come this far she is not about to let a bit of dust and grime deter her from uncovering the secrets of the past. As she rolls up her sleeves and begins to do her best to bring Cynalls back to life, secrets from the past that have been buried for decades begin to emerge. As the years roll back, Becky finds herself immersed in the never forgotten past and into a time where Olivia was a young woman during the Second World War. 

As Becky is swept away by the danger and romance of a time gone by, will she uncover the dark secret that binds her and Olivia together?

A brilliantly written and wonderfully evocative page-turner from a writer at the height of her storytelling powers, Jane Johnson’s The Sea Gate is a book that is sure to blow everyone away with a seductive and beguiling blend of nuanced characters, searing emotion, intense drama and poignant romance told with such flair and panache, I almost could not bear to read the last page as I did not want this book to end.

A book readers will not easily forget, The Sea Gate is high quality fiction at its most dazzling.
Was this review helpful?
What a super book. I love it when you start a book and it's nothing like you thought it would be. This surpassed my expectations. I thought it was going to be the usual time slip wartime book but it was so much more. 
Becky escapes London to look after her elderly aunt in Cornwall. Here she finds herself and the family history of aunt Olivia. Mystery, intrigue and history. A real gem.
Was this review helpful?
‘For a moment it seemed as if the world shifted on its axis and she felt like a foreigner in her own village. They were so wrong, so dangerously wrong, and she had been right all along.’

Always up for a good dual time narrative, The Sea Gate ticks all the boxes venturing into Cornwall during WWII to the present day. Here is a story with strong characters involved in a family drama with some well kept secrets that lead to a present day mystery. 

The character of Olivia is the constant player in both timelines and boy! what a character she is! From a present day feisty 90 year old, to life in Cornwall as a teenager - she is overflowing with confidence and attitude - but her life has not been an easy one and the author does a fabulous job of digging deeper to see beyond the crotchety old lady persona. The characters, along with the plot, are complex and engaging. Even the parrot with the foul mouth needs to be included here. What is not to love about an old house with secrets and old Olivia telling Rebecca about her younger self during the war years. There is real growth for all the main players over the course of the story to entice the reader. 

‘Of course real life wasn’t like that. She couldn’t see a future for the two of them, not here, or anywhere, so she tried not to think about the future at all.’

Cornwall comes alive with detailed descriptions of sea breezes and secret coves. The plot is well thought out with lots of interconnecting pieces across both timelines that come together for a climactic conclusion. I thought it was cleverly constructed and the mystery has a super twist at the end that you will not see coming. There are multiple themes at play here from abandonment and abuse, to survival and self discovery, with subterfuge and violent confrontations.  Jane is to be commended for giving purposeful consideration to all these aspects along with the added light relief of humour and a foul mouthed parrot!

With so much going on it takes awhile to get going but by the end I was hooked. The depth of the  intrigue I was not expecting but once again Jane weaves it all together beautifully.  From the outfall of evacuees and war time prisoners, to interracial relationships, to murder and misdemeanours to caring for the elderly. When you sit back, there is a lot going on but somehow she makes it all blend together.

‘A seagull screeches overhead and when I look up I am dazzled by the golden light haloing its wings against the sky; and all at once Cornwall saves me.’

My fascination with Cornwall continues as it seems to be the perfect location for many a story with its rugged backdrop often being matched by an equally compelling storyline. The key figure here is the strength of character of Olivia who shines in both timelines and makes The Sea Gate a compelling read. 

‘I turn on my phone and find the photo I took of The Sea Gate and show it to her. ‘It’s so beautiful, and so sad. Tell me, Cousin Olivia, are you the “OK Painter”? It is you, isn’t it?’



 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
Was this review helpful?
Favorite Quotes:

Estelle swore in vehement French, which Olivia mentally noted down for future use.

She still did not believe there had ever been a Mr. Ogden. And if there had been he was probably, judging by his offspring, a hobgoblin.

The long mirror on the inside of the wardrobe door throws my image at me. There is little worse in life than being caught unawares by your reflection, before you’ve made the small adjustments all women make – I have avoided mirrors for so long that I have forgotten to look out for them – and there I am, thin and white and strangely shaped…

Olivia hated Sundays. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to have a day of rest and then make you get up early to go to church?

I feel nothing. Not regret, or hatred or even repulsion. Nothing at all. All my emotions appear to have burst out of me in that one punch. I imagine them flowing down my arm like Popeye’s spinach, pumping up the muscles, exiting in a cartoon-bubble POW!


My Review:

I adored this brilliantly crafted tale!  The storylines were highly engaging, emotively written, colorfully and effusively detailed, insightfully observant, staggeringly eventful, and cleverly paced while hitting all the feels with a powerful punch and taunting my curiosity with a constant itch.  The cast of characters was vastly diverse and well-drawn with despicable villains and endearingly flawed protagonists, but my favorite was the highly astute and humorously profane parrot.  This was an epic tale that intrigued, squeezed my heart, amused me, and kept me well entertained and actively engaged while reading. This sly missive was my introduction to the wily Jane Johnson and has me greedy for more.
Was this review helpful?
This book is told from a dual perspective by Becky and Olivia. Becky is tasked to make the old crumbling house livable for Olivia. Becky is lovely, but quite a troubled character. Grief, unsatisfying love life, fear of illness and other things occupy Becky’s mind very often… I really liked Olivia in this novel, at present she is this tough old cookie but when we start delving into her childhood, we can see how wonderful she truly is. I enjoyed Olivia’s parts because she was very mysterious throughout this book, and I really enjoyed all the little discoveries that author had to offer with every single chapter.

I liked the narrative and how all the events were flowing throughout the pages. Present mixed with the past, never left me bored, and I was hooked to find out what will happen next. This novel has a lot to teach us, not only about self-discovery but also about how it was to live during WWII, especially when you are young, want to be carefree, but are left to fend for yourself with a very annoying child bestowed on you. I see a lot of the author’s experience in this book, such as life in Cornwall, true love for the sea and great knowledge about Morocco and it’s people.

I loved the writing style, it feels serious, but at the same breezy and enjoyable. The topics discussed in this book were abusive relationships, self-discovery, romance, survival, small community and it’s ways of life etc.  The chapters are very well designed and didn’t leave me feeling bored. I liked the ending of this book, and I think it rounded up this story very nicely. So, to conclude, it was a very pleasantly surprising novel, filled with intriguing, different timelines as well as absorbing characters and their life stories.
Was this review helpful?
I really loved this book, it was a nice break from the thrillers - although there was so much excitement to keep me entertained 😊 I loved Olivia's character, a crochety but lonely old woman who reached out to her last remaining family, with a harrowing history. 
It hops between Olivia's past and her present to tell the story and it unveils a whole host of surprises as you go, some sweet and heartwarming, some distressing and heartbreaking....a story full of emotion. It was so easy to read too, and I had no idea where it was going to go...I was hoping for an alternate ending - you'll know what I mean if you've read it - but alas, that didn't happen. Pick this up guys, it's well worth a read ❤
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book, from the first few chapters the setting and sense of place, really appealed to me.

Becky an artist, finds herself to much to her own surprise heading to Cornwall to visit her Mother’s cousin Olivia. Becky remembers visiting Chynalls vaguely as a child, she leaves her partner Eddie an artist and decides that she needs to do this.

When she reaches Cornwall and visits Olivia in hospital and meets this strong willed and belligerent old lady who needs her help. She decides to stay and help set the house up for Olivia’s return and finds herself wondering about Olivia’s life, when she makes a shocking discovery this becomes even more of a necessity.

Becky has suffered ill health herself and you discover more about this as the story progresses. Becky has a lot of self doubt and anxiety about her self and doing this is completely outside her comfort zone. She pushes her self to do things she would not have done previously after the death of her mother.

I found myself willing Becky to stay and be herself and leave Eddie to his own devices.

The book is written from the point of view of Becky but also a young 15 year old Olivia living in Cornwall in the house in the Second World War, her mother is French and her father a soldier. She is living in a the Cornish village with evacuees, POW and Land Girls, making the community very diverse to its usual demographic. She is just beginning to come of age and this gives her many new experiences.

The writing is so atmospheric and sensory. I loved being transported to Cornwall with Becky and Olivia and I really love books about old houses and their history. I also loved the foul mouthed parrot !

I would hugely recommend this book and if you like historical fiction and family secrets you will love this. I particularly love Cornwall and not being able to visit in lockdown has been hard so this was perfect escapism for me and I love the mystery in this book kept me gripped.
Was this review helpful?
My reading has been mainly on the lighter side during lockdown, and I have enjoyed every moment – but I did rather embrace the opportunity to read something different, a sweeping story set in the past and present. And my goodness, this book was everything I hoped it might be – filled with hidden secrets, fast paced, two compelling stories intricately entwined and cleverly linked by both location and a series of wonderfully managed echoes and reverberations.

Grief and loss are often the trigger for a fresh start, and this might not be the first book I’ve read where things happen because of the discovery of a letter – but this isn’t a letter from the past, it’s a plea for help from an elderly aunt in Cornwall, found among her mother’s correspondence after her recent death, looking for help so that she will be allowed to continue living in her cliff top home. Becky’s life is at a crossroads – concerns about her own health, a lack of direction, a relationship she’s begun to question, a family intent on keeping her at the periphery – and she grasps the opportunity to breathe a little while offering Olivia some much-needed support. She finds the home in a far worse state of repair than she expected, with a resident parrot (albeit one of considerable character – and a particularly foul mouth) making it considerably worse. But the house is most definitely worth saving – full of character and secrets, from its basement to its attic.

Olivia herself immediately wins Becky over – cantankerous, irreverent, constantly planning her “escape” from hospital – and it soon becomes clear that she has a story to tell. And we’re allowed to share it, through some of the most accomplished dual-time writing I’ve read in quite a while: we experience her growth to adulthood during WW2, in wartime Cornwall with her mother largely absent, the beaches lined with barbed wire and the prisoners of war supporting the war effort at a nearby farm. Even in her youth, she’s such a strong character – there are moments of real joy as she drives her father’s Flying Eight around the countryside, and her coming of age and a particular relationship she forms (quite wonderfully handled) put her in considerable danger. There’s a really well-sustained balance between the moments of high drama and the tenderness of the developing relationship, with the author showing a particular sensitivity with the emotional content.

Becky, as she sets about making the house inhabitable, the repairs to the home mirroring her own recovery, gradually uncovers a whole plethora of deeply hidden secrets – the secrets of the cellar that Olivia is so determined should be bricked up, the story behind the symbols carved on the door frame and the sea gate, the identity of a mysterious and sought-after artist, and the reasons why Olivia’s recent health might have declined rather more quickly than expected. It’s a story that moves at tremendous pace, filled with shocks and surprises and unpredictable turns: there are more than a few heart-in-mouth moments that make the book entirely impossible to put down, as Becky puts the past to rest while finding some resolution of her own issues.

As well as being a gripping and highly original story with the strongest of female characters, it’s the setting of this book that I think I might most remember. Chynalls (Cornish for “the house on the cliff”) is very much the third strong character in this book, the descriptions of its idiosyncrasies so vividly drawn, coupled with the most wonderful descriptions of its setting, its depths and secrets. This was a wonderful read – and the book a definite contender as one of my Books of the Year.

(Review copied to Amazon UK, but link not yet available)
Was this review helpful?
I relished this dual timeframe story pulled together with unexpected threads against a vivid Cornish backdrop.  Unfortunately I can't mention the angle that really interested me as it's a bit of a spoiler.  Olivia is an endearingly idiosyncratic character in her youth and old age and there are some deliciously sexy and romantic moments.
Was this review helpful?
Wholeheartedly fantastic read!

‘Shut the fuck up!’ the creature retorted. Funny how the parrot becomes one of the key characters.

I’m really enjoying my reading at the moment, thanks to Netgalley which has introduced me to so many different genres.

I would never have chosen this book, and I’m so glad that I’ve read it.  Set in Cornwall, Johnson takes you on a sometimes uncomfortable, however beautiful journey.

It is written, I’m reading more of this type of format currently, in different timelines and with different characters.... which sometimes I found frustrating as I wanted to continue with the timeline and character I was reading about now, not switch to the other.  However this didn’t detract from the successful way in which Johnson brought the past and present together, it is well written and paced appropriately.

There’s a lot going on..... WWII, war time struggles with evacuees, refugees, prisoners of war and tragic consequences. The rape of a vulnerable child is shocking but the way in which Johnson weaves everything together, love, strength, history, intrigue, suspense, romance, interracial relationships, interfering relatives, prejudice, sickness, murder and deception is positive and sympathetic resulting in a compelling read.  Then you have two extremely strong women and a parrot thrown into the mix, I savoured every minute of their journey. And none of this was core to the plot, Becky wanting to help her mother’s aged cousin get back into her home, which is dilapidated and has been neglected over time.

What stood out for me was when Becky kept getting flashes of mental support from her mother, now deceased.   ‘’Stop it, darling.’ My mother’s voice is so strong it almost echoes. ‘Concentrate on this moment, right now. It’s all we ever truly have.’’ I wholeheartedly concur.

Johnson has a way of writing which is truly descriptive, there is so much I would love to share, however you are going to have to read the book to learn more.  It’s a great adventure.

Excerpts:

‘My whole body becomes a smile. I take a breath and duck my head underwater and open my eyes in the strange green light and there she is, waiting for me. We swim little circles around one another, the seal graceful and strong, and I feel graceful and strong as I match her, until at last she suddenly refines her bodyshape and torpedoes away from me, and that is the end of our game.’

‘Shocked anew at the carnage, I trace the scars left by my treatment. A double mastectomy and lymphadenectomy. This small round lump just beneath my collarbone my implanted chemo port; this dark mark where the drain exited (I can still remember the crawling sensation of it being drawn out again, wormlike, foreign).’

‘I take in my reflection, this sexless patchwork of a woman, remembering the first time Eddie saw me after the surgery, how he could not disguise his horror and repulsion.’ Good old Eddie 😡 what a poor judge of character 🤷‍♀️

Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Head of Zeus for this eARC provided in exchange for this unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Rebecca, finds a letter in her late mother's possessions from Cousin Olivia in Cornwall asking for her help. She decides to go straight to the house Chynalls which she remembers vaguely from family holidays in the past with her twin brother. On arrival she finds that all is not well. Olivia is in hospital and the house needs to be renovated to suit her needs (with an inside bathroom for one!)  She visits her in hospital and leaves armed with a "to do" list. 

The home help and her husband try to make her change her mind but she's adamant that she's going to help Cousin Olivia no matter what it takes. Her partner Eddie is only interested in his work and her brother wrapped up in his life with his overbearing wife.

The house is rambling, is filled with exquisite artwork and curios, has an underground tunnel and it's own cove. Rebecca finds something which scares her half to death which she realises she'll have to ask her cousin about. She also meets Gabriel for the first time who really is a character in his own right.  It  needs a lot of work to bring the house up to scratch so that Social Services will allow Olivia back home. She enlists the help of two brothers who run their business locally much to the disdain of Rosie, the home help's sons who make mischief and scare her.  

We also meet Olivia during the war years when she is a young girl and her story is compelling. She's had a rich life with her fair share of unhappiness, friendships and ultimately love and heartache.. I like how the past and the present are intricately interwoven with mystery and some surprising moments. I simply adored this book and would highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
This is a wonderfully warm story with the past and present interwoven flawlessly, resulting in an engaging and evocative read.

When Becky's mother dies suddenly, she has to take on the job of sorting through her effects and comes across a letter from her cousin, pleading for help. Without taking time to think, Becky races off to the Chynalls - the home on the Cornish coast which she vaguely remembers from her childhood. With cousin Olivia stuck in hospital until certain renovations are made to the ancient house, Becky agrees to take charge and deal with it all, but gets much more than she bargained for . . .

What a fabulously created novel! The cleverly crafted story had me fully invested very quickly and I was eager to find out what happened next. With romance, history and mystery all easily intertwined, the narrative flows smoothly and makes for a very rewarding read. With a cast of varied characters, there is never a dull moment and I flew through the pages, looking forward to finding out what came next both in Becky's story and, of course, Olivia's - and what an amazing life the latter had! I have been riveted throughout and adored all the quirky details of the house. A fitting conclusion to a book which I feel I have more absorbed than read, and am very happy to give 4.5*.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley and especially to Vicky Joss for my spot in this tour; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
The two women in this saga were both strong and resilient. They had many things in common despite their sixty+ year age difference.

The house, Chynalls, (Cornish for 'the house on the cliff'), was almost a character unto itself. Imagine it, on a cliff overlooking a Cornish beach, complete with secret tunnels, and a colorful and precarious history. When reading this book, one can't help but think of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca". The setting coupled with the one of the protagonist's names - how could you not?

The story set during the war years was vividly rendered and well researched. The present day story was also quite compelling, including themes of family secrets, blackmail, and  elder abuse.

The ending wrapped up the book perfectly. Poignant and hopeful in equal measure.

To be honest, anytime a novel is set in Cornwall it grabs my attention. It seems so idyllic. This time round I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there via the pages of "The Sea Gate" and can highly recommend it to readers who enjoy the work of Rosamund Pilcher, Kate Morton, Harriet Evans, and the like.

Loved it!  Every minute of it!  A sure contender for my 2020 Top Reads list.
Was this review helpful?
Becky's mother has just died and she has the unavoidable task of sorting through her belongings. As she does, she finds a letter from her elderly aunt Olivia who lives in Cornwall. Olivia needs her help and so she takes the long journey down there and finds a ramshackle house that also has a timeless beauty in some parts. The house is packed with dated furniture. And, there's a parrot. 

When a neighbour meets her he shows her into the place and suggests alternate accommodation. But Becky is staying put. And as she does, she discovers the nooks and crannies of the place. There are secrets to uncover, too. 

Jane Johnson creates an incredibly atmospheric novel and it's quite dark and eerie in parts. There are a few laughs to be had and the parrot is hilarious! 

I felt like I was literally there in Cornwall with Becky and that I was on the quest, too. The discovery of The Sea Gate near the house was unexpected and well woven in.

The atmosphere is built well and there's a mix of characters. The pace is relaxing yet leaves you guessing. 

Alternating Rebecca's life in the present day with Olivia's life in WWII, the 2 plots fit well. 

Thanks to Jane Johnson and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I was sent a copy of The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson to read and review by NetGalley.
I really enjoyed this novel. An intriguing story moving between the present day and the 1940s. With a great cast of characters and a beautiful setting, it is a book about memories and secrets. It was very nicely written, although I did have one or two niggles – one being the fact that the author mentioned a Badgers holt…. Badgers have setts – Otters live in holts! Also, there were a few too many archaic words for my liking, which I didn’t think would have been used even back in the 1940s - perhaps the author was trying a bit too hard? Anyway, this was the only reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 and I am happy to recommend it as a really good read.
Was this review helpful?
The Sea Gate is a superbly written story that follows the life of Becky, who suddenly finds herself headed to Cornwall. She must go to the aid of her hospital bound Aunt Olivia to help her save her home, Chynalls, a gorgeous but old and crumbling house that must be made habitable again, if Aunt Olivia is ever going to return there. During her time at Chynalls Becky will come to understand what really matters to her, and maybe even shed some of her demons.

I could comfortably relate to the two protagonists Becky, narrating in the present and Olivia, in the past. Both of these characters were richly portrayed by Jane Johnson and each had lively, vivid personalities. I was quickly absorbed into the narrative, and I particularly appreciated the parts of the story detailing the mystery surrounding the house itself. The author's descriptive writing delightfully encapsulates the beauty and wildness of the locale, transporting the reader to a wonderfully idyllic setting. This was a poignant and thought provoking read that encompassed themes of injustice and prejudice in a quiet, unassuming way. Once I'd started reading I couldn't put this evocative tale down and I was never certain where Jane Johnson was going to take me next. The author wraps things up beautifully in a fulfilling and satisfying conclusion.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Head of Zeus via NetGalley and this review is my unbiased opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I was first introduced to the writing of Jane Johnson when I read her book Court of Lions. That book’s setting (Granada) was a little different from the Cornwall of The Sea Gate but the two novels share similarities. For example, they both feature the interweaving of past and present story lines and a plot involving hidden secrets.

I recall finding the storyline of Court of Lions set in the present day slightly less engaging than that set in the past, although to be fair that was largely because the latter was so powerful. However, in The Sea Gate I had no such difficulty as the author gives the reader equally compelling stories and sympathetic characters in both time periods.

The Olivia the reader encounters in the present day initially appears a rather irascible and difficult old lady. However, as Becky soon discovers, she’s incredibly spirited and tougher than she seems. “There’s still so much fire in her, so much character, a sort of fierce, frail heroism. I wish I’d known Olivia when she was younger.” The reader is granted Becky’s wish as the story moves back to 1943 and Olivia’s wartime childhood at Chynalls. With her mother away in London and her father serving abroad, Olivia is left largely to fend for herself. Her life is changed through a chance meeting brought about, as she puts it, by “misunderstanding and xenophobia”. Despite being the “epitome of difference”, she and the other character form an unbreakable bond and a chain of events is set in motion that will have far-reaching consequences.

Becky’s discovery of the letter from Olivia in her mother’s belongings, gives her just the project she needs to distract her from recent events in her life, doubts about her relationship with partner Eddy, and worries about the future. She decides, “It’s time to take some responsibility for a change, to try to do some good in the world, to help my elderly cousin as I was never able to help my own mother.” The fact Olivia lives amid the glorious landscape of Cornwall helps Becky’s decision too. “Sea and sky fuse at the distant horizon. Spangles of light glitter like spilled treasure, undulating with the rolling of the waves… This is the Cornwall I have always imagined. The sense of wildness and isolation, of fairy tale and possibility.”

I particularly liked the way Becky’s renovation of Chynalls mirrors her own psychological and physical “renovation”. It was truly heart-warming to witness her growing self-confidence, independence of spirit and the reawakening of her creativity. As Becky admits herself, “Fear has trapped me, rendered me immobile and powerless…fear of everything, really. I’d forgotten I even had wings, let alone how to use them.” Becky’s inner strength doesn’t escape Olivia’s observant eyes though, recognising in Becky “That family gumption. The never-give-up look.” The nature of Becky’s gumption will become evident in the most satisfying way later in the book.

Alongside supervising the renovation of Chynalls by brothers, Mo and Reda, Becky becomes curious to find out more about Olivia’s past. Sorting through old letters and photograph albums, she concludes, “Cousin Olivia is, like Chynalls, stuffed with secrets, and I feel compelled to find out what I can.” What is the meaning of the symbols carved on the sea gate, for instance, or the identity of the artist whose paintings line the walls? Deliciously for the reader, Becky starts to feel “Little mysteries surround me, deliberately withholding themselves, trembling on the edge of revelation.”

I mentioned earlier the subtle connections between the stories of Olivia and Becky. These only increase as the book progresses. Echoes upon echoes, if you like. For example, both Olivia and Becky find themselves in need of guardian angels to protect them from those who would take advantage of them. And I must give a special mention to something else Olivia and Becky share – the gloriously foul-mouthed parrot, Gabriel, to whom it’s definitely worth paying attention.

In the second half of the book, as Becky gets closer to discovering the secret hidden for so long, the pace accelerates, the tension really ratchets up and there are moments of melodrama. The creaks of an old house, the sudden striking of a grandfather clock that has up until then been silent and a thunderstorm are just some of the ingredients that help to create a distinctly spine-tingling atmosphere. For Becky, “The house is full of secrets, and sometimes they come out and whisper together in the night.” However, secrets have a way of not remaining hidden and reading a book such as The Sea Gate wouldn’t be half so satisfying if they did, would it? Never fear, there’s a lot to be discovered before the full picture is revealed.

The Sea Gate is a skilfully crafted dual time story about two women from different generations who are nevertheless bound together by shared experiences and by a cliff-top house that has carefully guarded a shocking secret for decades.
Was this review helpful?
I have to start with a mention of the book cover. It gives off a sense of atmospheric moody, mystery Cornwall. Not forgetting a secret or two in the salty air.

The Sea Gate centres around the characters of Becky and Olivia. Becky is drawn to Cornwall to her late mum’s elderly cousin Olivia. Olivia is in hospital and can’t come home until her run-down house is brought up to scratch. This is Becky’s job to organise, which I think is her opportunity to escape her present life. But the house holds many secrets.

The book flits between different times – present day and Olivia’s life when she was a 16 year old girl during World War II. It’s interesting reading seeing what Olivia had to go through back then.

I have really enjoyed reading The Sea Gate, and have therefore gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It would have been 5 stars for me, but it did start off a little slow paced. I will definitely be on the look out for further novels by Jane Johnson as I do like her writing style.
Was this review helpful?
I love to discover new authors and Jane Johnson is definitely a new author for me.  I read the synopsis for 'The Sea Gate' and it sounded like just my kind of read- a historical drama with twists and turns throughout the book.  Well it was all that and more.  I did really enjoy reading 'The Sea Gate' but more about that in a bit.
When I read the synopsis, the fact that family history came into the story really did appeal to me.  I am currently researching my own family tree and I have uncovered secrets and lies in my own tree that had been covered up until now that is.  I liked the idea of Becky going to visit her elderly cousin in Cornwall and helping to restore the cousin's home to its former glory.  Whilst Becky is doing this she uncovers more secrets, which really did strike a chord with me.
It took me a little while to get into this book but that has more to do with the fact that I was tired and my back was killing me when I started to read the book and cannot be taken as a criticism of the book itself.  Once I got into the book then that was it, I was away.  This wasn't a book that I could read over the space of a single day but I did manage to binge read the book over the course of a few days.  Whilst I was reading the story, I would become so immersed in the story that I would lose track of time and also lose track of how quickly the pages were turning.  It wasn't unheard of for me to read for a couple of hours at a time.  I loved the story and I found the characters very interesting.
'The Sea Gate' is really well written.  The author certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start and draw you into the story.  The author has one of those writing styles that is easy to get used to and easy to get along with.  Through Jane's very vivid and realistic descriptions, I did feel as though I was part of the story myself.  Jane writes beautifully.  I felt myself become caught up in the emotion of the story.  Everything that the characters went through I went through.
In short, I really did enjoy reading 'The Sea Gate' and I would recommend this book to other readers.  I will definitely be reading more of Jane's work in the future.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.
Was this review helpful?
What a beautiful, evocative and empathic book this was!  I haven't previously read anything by this author, so I wasn't sure what to expect, I was initially attracted to the beautiful cover, when I read the premise, it was very appealing , being a dual time storyline revolving between  the present and wartime Cornwall. 
     The two female protagonists are Becky , in the present and Olivia in the past. They are both Very interesting and engaging characters . 
   After the death of her mother, while clearing her mother's possessions, Becky discovers correspondence from a distant  cousin she wasn't aware of . In the most recent letter, Olivia has requested assistance from her family or she will be taken to a care home, as she is deemed  incapable of coping on her own, after a fall leaves her hospitalised. 
      I was quickly absorbed into the narrative , it was very poignant and thought provoking with mystery surrounding  the house on the cove, in Cornwall and the tunnels running beneath it.  The descriptive writing encapsulates the beauty and wildness of the area , transporting the reader to an idyllic setting.  
     The injustice and prejudice portrayed , suffered by characters  both in tbe past and present  was uncomfortable to read at times , but very relevant.
    I couldn't put this book down once I'd started it.  You never quite knew where the author was taking you next and it kept you turning the pages to find out more.   Both strands of the storyline tie up neatly by the end of the book. It was an enjoyable read and I thoroughly recommended it.
Was this review helpful?