The Sea Keeper’s Daughters (The Carolina Heirlooms Novels)

Written by Lisa Wingate
Review by Fiona Alison

The inheritance of a dilapidated historic hotel on Roanoke Island comes at a fortuitous moment for Whitney Munroe. A restaurant entrepreneur working on opening a second location, she arrives in Manteo with financial deadlines nipping at her heels. Her initial thoughts of selling the building for fast cash are soon dispelled, however, when she discovers a number of old letters secreted amongst her grandmother’s belongings—letters from a sister, Alice, who worked with Roosevelt’s Writer’s Project in 1936. Through Alice’s powerful words and astute perceptions, we follow her journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains as she conducts her interviews. The letters are deeply moving, replete with motley characters—some charming, some down-right dangerous—and we travel beside Alice on dangerous treks through an unforgiving land which became home to many Depression victims.

Whilst piecing together Alice’s extraordinary story, Whitney is pulled between financial and family pressures. The disposal of the hotel begins to take a back seat to her need to deal with a belligerent, ailing stepfather who has been granted a life-tenancy by her deceased mother. Then there’s the necklace and carved scrimshaw that are so valuable the museum can’t afford to purchase them outright, but which Whitney desperately needs to sell.

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is a charming inspirational novel, never indulging in a “too good to be true” feel with character or circumstance. Alice’s and Whitney’s stories are equally compelling—not always the case in multi-period novels. A wonderful story in fast-paced, clean, descriptive prose.