Summary: Charmaine Ryan knows only poverty and pain growing up. In the wake of a horrifying tragedy, she seeks a new life, and fate leads her into the private world of the wealthy Duvoisin clan. At first, it seems as if nothing terrible could touch this seemingly charmed family. But an ill wind blows through the halls and chambers of the Duvoisins' sprawling island retreat, carrying betrayal, deceit, and ominous peril.
Quickly, Charmaine is caught up in the secrets and mystique swirling around the enigmatic family. At the center are shipping tycoon Frederic Duvoisin and his youthful wife, Colette. And there is Paul Duvoisin, a dashing seducer and Frederic's bastard son, who stirs a dangerous fascination in the two women; the scheming Agatha Ward, who will not rest until she's taken Colette's place in Frederic's heart as well as in his bed; and exiled son, John, who reenters the family fold, stoking the turmoil as he unveils truths best kept hidden. Ultimately, Charmaine chooses to stand with Colette against formidable enemies, but has she made the right decision?
A sweeping, remarkable blend of adventure, romance, intrigue, and suspense, A Silent Ocean Away heralds the arrival of a glorious new voice on the historical fiction scene. -- Avon A
I was fortunate enough to receive A SILENT OCEAN AWAY: Colette's Dominion by DeVa Gantt from the Avon A Fiction Readers' Group at Gather. I have been reading a lot of historical fiction lately, and I thought this novel looked very interesting because it is being marketed as one of those big, sweeping family sagas. I agree that this book was primarily a family saga, with more emphasis on the family and their relationships than the historical information of early 19th century; however I definitely found myself caught up in Charmaine's life as well as the members of the Duvoisin household.
From the first few chapters of the book, I knew that I would love getting to know Charmaine. Charmaine is just an extremely kind-hearted and generous girl who has to overcome so many obstacles. Not only does she have to deal with losing her mother at the hands of her father, but she also has to handle moving to a new home, taking on a new job as a governess, and living with a family which has a great deal of conflict. In addition, she finds herself attracted to a man who is considered a ladies' man and a heart-breaker. I thought the character of Charmaine was very well-developed and I just loved her; but I also had fun seeing how the members of the Duvoisin household (as well as their interactions with one another) were portrayed. I enjoyed seeing Charmaine mature into a strong, independent young woman throughout the pages of this novel; and I also liked learning about the juicy background surrounding the family.
One thing that I really liked about this novel was that while it was heavy on relationships and romance, it still was an extremely "clean" novel. Don't make me swear to this, but I can't remember anything the least bit offensive from a language or romance aspect. In this day and age, that's not always true; and while I don't consider myself a prude, I found it extremely refreshing. It just goes to show that a book doesn't need all that stuff to be entertaining.
When I started this novel, I knew that A SILENT OCEAN AWAY was the first book in a trilogy that Avon A, an imprint of Harper Collins, plans to publish over the next few years. In fact, in the A+ Author Insights, Extras, & More... at the back of the book, there is an excerpt of the next novel in the series DECISION AND DESTINY: Colette's Legacy. I was very glad to have something else to read about these characters because the actual book ended so suddenly that I felt a little cheated. The book just kind of stopped (I was looking to see if I was missing pages), and I definitely think it left the reader wanting more.
I found the information about the "author" DeVa Gantt to be very interesting. A SILENT OCEAN AWAY is actually a coauthored work by real-life sisters Deb and Val (thus the name DeVa.) I am just blown away by the concept of writing a huge novel with someone else (nevertheless your sister.) You can read more about their fascinating story here. In summary, they began working on the novel way back in 1979, but their lives just "got in the way." Both women had careers and families, but they eventually came back to the novel and self-published the story in 2005. Positive reviews flowed in, and in 2006 Harper Collins decided to publish the novel as a trilogy.
I'm not sure that this a the type of book that my book club would want to discuss, but I'm pretty sure that most of the women would thoroughly enjoy the story. There is a type of reader's guide in the back of the book, but it's not the usual discussion question format. Rather, there are questions and answers by the authors; however, I think many of the questions could also be discussed by book clubs.
I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the Colette Trilogy; but unfortunately, I will have to wait until April 2009. After reading THE SILENT OCEAN AWAY, I am extremely interested in the Duvoisin family and Charmaine; and I dying to know what happens to all of them. I have quite a few questions and unresolved issues still floating around in my head. I'm pretty sure that I won't be alone with these feelings -- many readers will be looking forward to the next two novels!
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