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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful debut novel
`The Sea Change' finds Joanna Rossiter spins her story around a mother and daughter, both caught up in life changing events - real, historical events - that are very different and yet have similar consequences. She does it so very well that I can scarcely believe it is her debut. But it is.

In 1971 Alice was travelling across Asia to India with her new...
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Sea Change
A fairly dissappointing read. I could not feel anything for the characters. The book was too descriptive and the pace too slow.
Published 11 months ago by Simone


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful debut novel, 16 May 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
`The Sea Change' finds Joanna Rossiter spins her story around a mother and daughter, both caught up in life changing events - real, historical events - that are very different and yet have similar consequences. She does it so very well that I can scarcely believe it is her debut. But it is.

In 1971 Alice was travelling across Asia to India with her new boyfriend. When they reached India they married, but the very next day they were separated by a tsunami. As Alice desperately searched for James she had she thought about their past, their relationship, their journey. And she thought about her mother. Her instinct was to turn to her mother, Violet, but they had parted on bad terms.

In 1943 Violet's home, and the whole Wiltshire village of Imber, was requisitioned by the army. She had never returned but she had never forgotten her home and the people who were lost to her now: her sensitive, caring father; her practical mother; her spirited sister, Freda; and Pete, the troubled young man she had been drawn to. They were all lost to her now.

The same themes - home, love, loss, misunderstanding - are threaded through both strands of the story.

Joanna Rossiter writes quite beautifully, in fluid, graceful prose, and she illuminates characters, places, relationships, in all of their complexity, so very well. And she writes with such intelligence and understanding, leaving space for her readers to wonder, to interpret, to think, to react.

I was completely caught up, though I was torn between wanting to rush forward with the story and wanting to linger to appreciate so much that was wonderful.

The movement between 1940s England and 1970s India felt quite natural, and the two places were brought together by recurring themes and images. The descriptions are rich, the sense of place is strong, bringing landscapes to life and making the destruction of those landscapes, by man and by nature, devastating.

All of that could have overtaken the characters and their stories, and yet it never did. They were utterly real, complex, and fallible. I cared, I wanted to intervene - particularly to bring mother and daughter together, to make them talk, to help them understand each other - but I couldn't. I could only watch, utterly fascinated.

And for all that the two storylines are linked, for all they work together, each has its own character. The balance between incidents and emotions is different, Violet's leaning towards the former and Alice's towards the latter. At times I preferred one to the other, but each one was always compelling, always moving.

The tone at times is elegiac, and story is haunting.

After a debut like this I am finding it very easy to imagine Joanna Rossiter becoming an established author, whose new books welcomed with open arms. I do hope so ...
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It seems implausible this is a debut novel, but it is, 9 May 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
In her debut novel, The Sea Change, Joanna Rossiter writes about a peculiar kind of grief. I do not know the name of it. I wish I did.

Her book, you see, is about lost landscapes. She bases her story on two real events: the appropriation of Imber, a Wiltshire village, by the War Office in 1943; and a coastal community in India crushed by tsunami in 1971.

In each case there is destruction, the residents are displaced, their homes are robbed and the familiar environment scarred and garrotted. War and wave bring death to families caught up in them - and yet there are survivors too, left to mourn, recover and possibly to rebuild.

Rossiter gives us one family touched by both incidents. In 1971 (`the present'), Alice is travelling overland through the Middle East to India with her spur-of-the-moment husband, having left her mother, Violet, in England on bad terms.

Meanwhile, her mother's Imber upbringing forms the other portion of the story three decades earlier. She is the daughter of a parson, and Pete is the object of her teenage infatuation.

When catastrophe comes, personal loyalties are tested: the roots to the past that hold you back; the excitement and appeal of new experiences pulling you forward.

Violet's love for Pete is intriguing. He is a wanderer without sentiment for any specific location, whereas Vi harbours a deep desire to `go home', though war games have rendered Imber unrecognisable.

Her relationship with her daughter is equally complex. Alice's adventuring hurts Violet, is intended to spite her, perhaps. The strings of affection tug, knot and unravel.

Rossiter has a gift for bringing geography to life, her descriptive passages are some of the loveliest and most effective I can recall reading. Likewise the devastation of landscapes she's so skilfully created are poignant and anxiety-inducing. Rossiter makes it easy for us to see through Violet's eyes, to empathise with her pain as her beloved birthplace is ripped apart. But as well as being a beautiful book, I think this is a subtle one. Is there something self-indulgent in Violet's grief? Undignified even? (Bricks and mortar aren't people after all.) Do villages have a heart, the same as any other loved one? It is an interesting question, intelligently asked.

One of the greatest pleasures I had reading this novel is the recurring theme of water damaged paper: the patches of mould on wallpaper like an atlas; the damp books drying over a banister; the ring from a teacup on an open map; the letter turned to mulch by the sea. I read a chapter in the bath and accidently got some pages wet - it was as if the moisture had leaked out of it.

Rossiter has a mature sensibility. She writes with fluency and grace. It seems implausible that The Sea Change is a debut novel, but it is. And the prospect of more work as good as this, or even better, is tantalising. She knows herself.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Absorbing, 10 May 2013
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This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
Around 70 pages into The Sea Change, I nearly missed my stop on the train journey to work. One minute I was huddled in the rain with Violet and Annie, cold, wet, muddy and heartbroken, and the next the word `Blackheath' reached across the decades and I found myself plonked unceremoniously back in the present day, scrabbling my belongings together and hurrying off the train.

It's a rare book that can absorb me so completely on such a short train ride that I really do forget where I am. Joanna Rossiter's rich, compelling story, and her intriguing word-choices, her wonderful sense of place and her complex - and often frustrating - characters creep up on you like, well, like the tidal wave she describes. Then, like the wave, they swamp you, taking you captive, and leaving their mark long after you've closed the cover for the last time.

I spent much of the book wanting to bash the main characters' heads together. True to their time, they held so much inside, when actually talking to each other could have solved so many problems, and eased the grief that they carried like a second skin, seething and groaning beneath the surface of their quiet, dutiful lives.

But that is a criticism of the time, not of the book. Their reticence is a significant part of what compels you to keep reading - every snippet they give away is a tasty morsel, awakening your appetite for more.

This is an excellent, and really accomplished debut novel and I can't wait to read more from Joanna, or to visit the places I already feel I know so well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Separations and Secrets, 12 July 2013
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
Not that easy a book to read, as there are two `I's to get to grips with, Violet and Alice by way of sister/aunt Freda and lover/father Pete. Chopping and changing identities the chapters inhabit two villages, one set on Salisbury Plain, from the beginning of the last war, the other a tsunami devastated beach in India, 1971.

Based on truths, the army takeover of a quiet community who had to leave their homes for the greater good, families so trusting they left food in their larders for their return, a promise ruthlessly forgotten by the authorities; the story of Imber has resonance and pull. The tsunami that hit Kanyakumari predates the similarly awful one we remember more recently. Alice and James were there by chance, on the hippie trail, their physical separation and subsequent tangled search for each other threads through alongside Violet's unravelling complex family history.

There are shocks and surprises, pin sharp observations and utterly convincing human behaviour. All the way through you hope that there will be sense to the story, at times you may wonder, but by the end I decided it was more than a worthwhile reading experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sea Change vs Finals, 29 May 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
A day before one of my finals I was rushing home from the library to finish off The Sea Change. Such a gripping read, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Beautifully written and a real page turner. Can't wait for the next of Joanna's masterpieces.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read, but persist, 24 July 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
Everyone seems to tell you the blurb, so I won't go into details.
On a review side - this book should be bought and read. For all those who do buy it you need to persist. I found the over-descriptive writing in the first few pages very difficult to break through - to understand who was saying what and what was happening. Jumping back and forth in time is not easy, telling almost 3 stories is also tough - young Vi, current Vi plus Alice.
So while I am delighted to have read this, people should add it to your book shelf - just know that once you get past the first few pages it gets immeasurably better and you dive into a story. I don't feel it is a complete story - it feels like some bits were missed, skimmed over or maybe just the vision was tunneled to focus on the stories.
It is not heartbreaking, it is just a book to try to understand - you are waiting for explanations as to why the story line is shaped the way it is.

Wonderful first novel
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic First Novel, 9 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
A beautifully written and poetically described novel. The rich descriptions of landscapes transport you into the novel. Hopefully this is the start of a wonderful career for this author. Looking forward to following Joanna Rossiters progress!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and captivating!, 23 May 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
Joanna Rossiter finds just the right words every time, her descriptions are exquisite. The cover may deceive you into thinking this is a flimsy chic lit holiday read- start reading and you will be drawn in and gripped by the complex woven lives and parallel times. The storyline intrigues and compels you to keep the pages turning. The vocabulary brings alive the villages, beaches, war torn cities and journeys. The characters find it difficult to express their feelings and often miss out on the opportunity of happiness. The ending satisfies, yet leaves you wanting more. Thank you Penguin for finding this delicious new author. Bring on her second book...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotiinal, 31 July 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Kindle Edition)
The Sea Change' is an emotionally charged read that leaves your senses heightened, almost as if you are trapped within the pages. It tells the story of two events that are highly traumatic and affect one family.

Through past and present, mother and daughter share with us the traumatic experience that has and will change their lives forever.

At first I found it hard going to keep up with the flow of the story from past to present, but the poignancy of the story kept me reading.

Whilst I understood the need in Violets character to return to a place that had left her with so many traumatic memories, she wasn't a character that I overly liked.
Her daughters are complete opposites. Freda thought she was better than she was, the way she looked down her nose at others, had me despising her.
But Alice on the other hand was a fantastic character, a wannabe free spirit and her relationship with James was wonderful, they are perfect for each other.

Joanna Rossiter brings us a descriptive debut that will have you smelling the waves and feeling the hurt and angst of characters within, ride the waves of emotions with 'The Sea Change'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN enjoyable read, 6 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Sea Change (Paperback)
The sea change by Joanna Rossiter talks about love and loss, grief and compromise. Two different stories run alongside. We find Violet, as a teenage girl living through life changing events during the Second World War, then, we meet her daughter Alice, the survivor or a Tsunami, desperately searching for her husband and questioning everything she though she knew about life and love.

The relationship between mother and daughter is strained and difficult. Alice is a free spirit who wants to see the world. Violet has never left the country and is a bit overprotective of her daughter. They do have different characters but Alice's obvious hostility towards her mother is never explained by the author or understood by the reader.
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The Sea Change
The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter
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