The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley



Sometimes I dream about the same thing again and again, but not as a recurring dream. It is more like the same world and same people. My dreams are like mixed up or missing episodes in a series. I know they belong to the same world, but their sequence doesn't make sense. The story usually happens at night or twilight in a city full of greenery and huge buildings made of stone. Last time it was set in a vast open space resembling an abandoned heliodrome or sports court set in terraces with dilapidated steps leading form one plane to another. These dreams should worry me but they don't. Sometimes they are grey and heavy and they border on the scary but I don't really feel it. There's a feeling of detachment, like watching something I am a part of but at the same time I'm not. However there is something I do feel, these dreams seem to be frighteningly real.

Another thing that happens every now and then is a feeling of familiarity with things I know I never saw. Like feeling almost at home in a building I haven't been into before. Perhaps this is why I like time slip and time travel novels, stories set in different time periods one affecting the other, with a touch of paranormal where strange links with the past reign. Past intrigues me, it doesn't matter if events are a result of pure imagination of an author or if they really happened. However, something keeps me away from historical novels lately. I don't read them anymore and I don't miss them either. What is more, stories set in the past make me nervous. The Winter sea is part romance, part historical novel. I don't mind the romance part as long as the author doesn't overdo it and Susanna Kearsley didn't. I'm OK with the heroine dreaming about the past, hearing voices whispering to her from centuries ago and remembering things she didn't experience herself. What made me feel uneasy was a moment just before I first started reading the part where the story is set in the past. I don't really care if it is historically accurate, and I can't tell since I'm not familiar with events described in the novel. Just before the start of a first chapter set in the past I closed the book and waited. It turned out my fear was totally unnecessary. I liked both parts, present as well as past and how they connect and influence each other.

I like coincidences and the ability to let go, to follow hunches one has just for the sake of seeing where they might lead. I'm familiar with what the heroine Carrie says when she talks about choosing subjects for her books. The events she writes about take place in the beginning of 18th century when exiled James Stewart is supposed to return to Scotland to reclaim his crown. Later she changes point of view of the story a little, just on the basis of a few words somebody says, a sentence she heard a man speaking when she was half asleep listening to a conversation taking place centuries ago. While dealing with ancestral memory, she finds that the border between present and past is thinner than she thought. I can't say I didn't like the book, I did, it was a nice read to pass time in a doctor's waiting room or on a bus. However, the story didn't exactly glue the book to my fingers. I got the impression that time travel was the most important aspect of the story, not so much what happened in the past or present.

I added The Winter Sea on my TBR pile quite some time ago and soon forgot about it. Now the story coincides beautifully with what I have been thinking about lately in connection with my paintings: the void in the form of water, sea and its grey expanses. Carrie writes about Sophia, a woman from the past looking out of her bedroom window: The sight was unexpected, and it stole her breath. She saw the sea and nothing else. She might have been aboard a ship, with days of journeying between herself and land, and nothing round her but the grey sky and the storm-grey waves that stretched forever to the grey horizon. And there was an answer to my questions about the importance of the viewer understanding what went through an artist's head while creating an artwork. Carrie talks about how she hated her teacher dissecting books while analysing them at school: "Who knows what the writer was thinking, and why should it matter?" My thoughts exactly.


* Words written in italics are direct quotes from The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.


*


Včasih sanjam iste sanje. Ne ponavljajo se, bolj gre za to, da sodijo v isti svet, z istimi ljudmi. Podobne so pomešanim ali manjkajočim epizodam iste serije. Vem, da sodijo skupaj, vendar v sosledju dogodkov ni posebnega smisla. Zgodba v sanjah se po navadi dogaja ponoči ali v mraku, v mestu, polnem zelenja in kamnitih stavb. Zadnjič so se dogajale na prostem, v prostoru podobnem heiodromu ali zapuščenem športnem kompleksu, grajenem v terasah, ki jih je povezovalo razpadlo stopnišče. Te sanje bi  me morale skrbeti, vendar me ne. Včasih so temačne in težke in mejijo na grozljivo, vendar tega ne čutim. Gledam jih skozi filter oddaljenosti, kot da se ne bi dogajale meni, hkrati pa vem, da se. Kljub vsemu pa so videti zastrašujoče resnične.

Kdaj pa kdaj se mi dogaja tudi, da se mi stavbe v katerih nikoli nisem bila, zdijo nelogično znane, v njih se počutim domače. Morda so mi zato všeč zgodbe, ki vključujejo potovanja skozi čas in prepletanje različnih časovnih obdobij, s kančkom paranormalnega. Preteklost me po svoje vznemirja, pri čemer ni pomembno ali si je avtor opisane dogodke izmislil ali so se v resnici zgodili. Kljub temu pa imam zadnje čase težave z zgodovinskimi romani oziroma z zgodbami, ki se dogajajo v preteklosti. Ne berem jih več, niti jih ne pogrešam. Po svoje me celo delajo živčno. Zimsko morje je deloma romantična zgodba, deloma zgodovinska. Nič nimam proti romantični zgodbi, če avtor ne pretirava in Susanna Kearsley ni pretiravala. Čisto v redu je, da junakinja sanja o preteklosti, da sliši glasove, ki ji prišepetavajo iz preteklosti in da se spominja stvari, ki jih ni doživela. Ni pa mi bil všeč občutek negotovosti, ki me je preplavil tik preden sem začela z branjem prvega poglavja, ki se dogaja v preteklosti. Ni pomembno ali so opisani dogodki zgodovinsko točni, saj tega dela škotske zgodovine sploh ne poznam. Skratka, tik preden sem začela brati zgodbo iz preteklosti, sem zaprla knjigo. Kasneje sem ugotovila, da je bil moj občutek živčnosti čisto iz trte izvit.

Všeč so mi naključja in sposobnost prepustiti se dogajanju, slediti občutkom samo zato, da vidimo kam nas bodo pripeljali. Znano mi je tudi to kako junakinja, Carrie, izbira tematiko za knjige, ki jih piše. Knjiga opisuje dogodke iz začetka 18. stoletja, ko naj bi se iz izgnanstva v Franciji vrnil škotski kralj James Stewart in prevzel krono. Kasne, na podlagi predloga agentke in stavka, ki ga je slišala v polsnu, ko je poslušala pogovor, ki se je dogajal pred stoletji, malo prilagodi zorni kot pisanja. Med ukvarjanjem s spominom prednice ugotovi, da je meja med preteklostjo in sedanjostjo tanjša kot je mislila. Ne morem reči, da mi knjiga ni bila všeč, ker mi je bila. Čeprav pa je bila prav simpatično branje za preganjanje časa na avtobusu ali v zdravniški čakalnici, se mi nekako ni zalepila za prste. Dobila sem občutek, da je glavni junak romana potovanje skozi čas in ne toliko kaj se je zgodilo v preteklosti ali sedanjosti. 

Zimsko morje sem dodala na seznam za branje že pred časom in potem pozabila nanj. Zdaj se mi zgodba lepo ujame z razmišljanjem o mojem slikarstvu, o praznini v obliki vode, morja in njegovih sivih širjav. Carrie piše o Sophiji, ženski iz preteklosti, kako gleda skozi spalnično okno: Pogled jo je presenetil in jih vzel sapo. Videla je morje in ničesar več. Lahko bi bila na krovu ladje, dneve potovanja stran od kopnega, okoli nje pa ne bi bilo ničesar razen sivega neba in nevihtno sivih valov, ki se razprostirajo v neskončnost do sivega obzorja. Pa še odgovor na vprašanje, ki si ga zadnje čase postavljam: ali je res tako zelo pomembno, da gledalci razumejo kaj se je dogajalo v umetnikov glavi medtem, ko je nastajalo njegovo umetniško delo. Carrie govori o tem kako je sovražila analizo knjig v šoli, ko so učitelji secirali zgodbe do onemoglosti: "Kdo ve o čem je pisatelj razmišljal, zakaj bi to sploh moralo biti pomembno?" Tudi jaz mislim tako.


* Ležeče izpisane besede so vzete iz knjige The Winter Sea Susanne Kearsley. Prevedla sem jih sama.


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