Summary and book reviews of The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson

The Sea Gate

by Jane Johnson

The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson X
The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson
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  • Published:
    Jan 2021, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

A broken family, a house of secrets - an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.

After Rebecca's mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother's mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.

Olivia, her mother's elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.

As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner...

A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman's courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she'll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.

Chapter 1
Becky

I TAKE THE PHONE AWAY from my ear, end the call and stand looking at the impression of oil and powder left on its blank screen, traces of make-up I so rarely wear. I wipe the mark away with my thumb and transfer the phone to my jacket pocket. It is hard to take in the words that have just oozed into my ear.

There was something on the scan…

Across the street two women are still engaged in the noisy altercation that started just as my phone rang. The woman in the red car drove into a parking space that the woman in the muddy SUV was preparing to reverse into. The traffic is halted on either side of them: people have stopped on the pavement to watch the argument. Some are taking sides. Heated words are exchanged, photos taken. A moment ago I had been diverted by this intense little drama; now, it seems absurd and I experience the urge to run across the road and tell them that life is too short to get angry over something so trivial. But I don't. I am feeling ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The author handles the narrative voices superbly; both Becky and Olivia come across as unique and interesting characters, fully-formed and multi-faceted. Johnson enables her readers to create a deep bond with each of the women; they're people I came to love and understand over the course of the novel, and each is captivating in her own right. However, the story is often predictable and occasionally veers into melodrama, and a large number of loose ends are wrapped up far too neatly in the book's final chapter. I was having too much fun to mind these last faults much, though, and the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses...continued

Full Review Members Only (681 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
With its atmospheric setting, fast-paced dual narrative, and vividly eccentric characters, The Sea Gate is a juicy novel perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Daphne du Maurier. But it’s also an unflinching look at racism and sexism in England during the Second World War, a bittersweet love story and a tribute to unexpected courage under fire—both from its protagonists and its other characters...Readers may want to catch a train to Cornwall...after spending a few hours in Johnson’s lushly rendered world.

New York Journal of Books
The Sea Gate is a beautifully written story of two women’s courage.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A]n irresistible epic history...Johnson keeps the narrative speeding along, underpinning her tale with a large supporting cast...Johnson's powers of description evoke the setting's living history and brings it to brilliant life. This sweeping saga is a must-read.

Library Journal (starred review)
Johnson conveys a strong sense of place in her historical fiction. The author describes this as a book about family secrets. Although secrets abound, this is also a novel of sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. Recommended for readers who value the journey, however harrowing, as much as the destination.

Author Blurb Santa Montefiore, bestselling author of The Temptation of Gracie
A beautifully written and intriguing story that stayed with me long after I had turned the last page.

Author Blurb Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Winemaker's Wife
The talented Jane Johnson spins a vivid, complex tale of a young woman in war-torn 1940s Cornwall who has seemingly lost everything, and her distant relative in modern-day London, who must journey to England's rugged southwest coast, where a house full of mystery, history, and lies connects them both. Both storylines come alive in a swift-moving, evocative tale full of hidden bones, lost love, long-buried secrets, and even a foul-mouthed parrot. A wholly original World War II–era story that will make you both laugh and cry in equal measure.

Author Blurb Genevieve Graham, #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child
I was swept away by this mesmerizing book, and I savoured every moment of the journey. History, intrigue, suspense, romance, the evolution of two strong, engaging women, and a parrot—everything I longed for and more! The Sea Gate will stay in my heart for a long time.

Reader Reviews

Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth@Silver'sReviews - Great characters, pull-you-in writing, and a surprise ending.
Who is cousin Olivia? Rebecca remembered visiting her a few times when she was a child, but her mother didn’t mention her too often. Finding letters from cousin Olivia addressed to her mother pleading for help had Rebecca on her way to Olivia’s ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Parrot Trivia

African Grey ParrotOne of the characters in Jane Johnson's novel, The Sea Gate, is a foul-mouthed, multilingual African grey parrot (Psittacus Erithacus). Parrots are members of the Psittacidae family, which is comprised of over 300 species including lovebirds, cockatoos, macaws and budgerigars (aka "budgies"). While most people are broadly familiar with parrots, there's a lot of interesting trivia and history that isn't common knowledge.

  • The oldest parrot fossil on record is from the Eocene Epoch, about 50 million years ago, and was discovered in what is now Denmark.
  • Historical records indicate that parrots have been valued as pets going back thousands of years in Asia, Europe and South America.
  • Alexander the Great brought pet parakeets to Greece in 327...

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Readalikes

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