“Wise, beautiful, moving, sad, rich…It makes you feel less alone on the trying, miraculous journey of being alive.” —Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family
The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when Alex, eleven at the time, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. After their mother’s suicide, the girls’ father shut down emotionally, leaving Alex responsible for caring for Colleen, then eight, and little Riley, just four. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. Decades may have passed, but the unresolved trauma of their mother’s death still looms over them, creating distance between the sisters.
Then, on a March night, a storm rages near the coast of northeastern Massachusetts. Alex sits alone in an old farmhouse she inherited from a stranger. The lights are out because of the storm; then, an unexpected knock at the door. When Alex opens it, her beautiful younger sister stands before her. Riley has long been estranged from their family, prompting Colleen to hire the private investigator from whom they’d been awaiting news. Comforted by her unexpected presence, Alex holds back her nagging questions: How had Riley found her? Wouldn’t the dirt roads have been impassable in the storm? Why did Riley insist on disappearing back into the night?
After her mysterious visitation, Alex and Colleen are determined to reconcile with Riley and to face their painful past, but the closer they come to finding their missing sister, the more they fear they’ll only be left with Riley’s secrets. An unforgettable story about grief, love, and what it means to be haunted, The Ocean in Winter marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in fiction.
“A compelling portrait of a wounded family seeking a path forward. Elizabeth de Veer writes with nuanced understanding of the complexities of hurt and healing, and she knows how to tell a damn good story. Rich in dialogue, action, and a keen sense of place, The Ocean in Winter pulls the reader into the swirling vortex of three lives shaped by a family legacy that will not let them go.” —Rilla Askew, author of Kind of Kin
“The Ocean in Winter is a compelling, well-written debut with the title being more than significant for this riveting novel as it illustrates the emotions of grief, pain, and even happiness which are often synonymous with the cold, destructive, and mysterious sea.” —New York Journal of Books
“Three sisters confront their past as a raging storm batters coastal Massachusetts in de Veer’s tense debut…De Veer imbues this family drama with the mysteriousness of a ghost story and the pacing of a thriller…This rousing family drama effectively captures the emotional turbulence of overcoming trauma.” —Publishers Weekly
“De Veer has created here not a story of joy versus sadness, but rather a study of how sisters navigate the world after experiencing a loss that reverberates in each’s life.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
Elizabeth de Veer has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has been admitted to writing residencies at the Jentel Artist Residency, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is a member of several writing groups, including Grub Street Writers’ Collective of Boston, the Newburyport Writers’ Group, Sisters in Crime New England, and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. She lives in a small town in Northeast Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.