“The Ocean in Winter is my absolute favorite kind of novel: wise, beautiful, moving, sad, rich. This magical tapestry woven from the lives of three sisters trying to reconnect to each other and themselves in the wake of their mother’s death does what the best fiction should: it makes you feel less alone on the trying, miraculous journey of being alive. I cried for the last forty pages—from joy and gratitude.” —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.
“Tenderness, steel, and rage forge the relationships of three sisters in the aftermath of their mother’s suicide. The Ocean in Winter shines a light on the layers of grief which build up and reverberate for generations after a family tragedy. Author Elizabeth de Veer lays bare—with razor-sharp precision and lush writing—how in the face of family crucibles, we can collapse or become strong at the broken places.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Widow of Wall Street
“Three sisters, two resilient, one fragile, face their memories and pain in Elizabeth de Veer’s The Ocean in Winter, which combines exquisitely observed atmosphere with a page-turning plot.” —Kathleen Gilles Seidel, author of Don’t Forget to Smile
“The Ocean in Winter is a deft and beautiful book, brilliantly crafted, thrilling, funny, and heartbreaking by turns. It’s about difficult sisters, shapeless yearnings, solitude, loss, the shadow of the past; about not knowing how to stop pretending, about losing control, about finding one another or … not. Its characters are vivid and real, their voices unmistakable. They stay with you.” —Benjamin Rosenbaum, author of The Unraveling
“With sharp, tender insight, Elizabeth de Veer’s gorgeous novel lays bare the inner worlds of three sisters trying to cope with devastating, incomprehensible loss. I came to love these brave, flawed, easily recognizable characters as they reached for answers, and for each other, across some divides that could be breached and some that couldn’t. Fiercely intelligent and always engaging, de Veer does what the best novelists do: she takes the full measure of her difficult subject, and transforms it through some alchemy into hard-won wisdom and grace.” —Elisabeth Elo, author of Finding Katarina M. and North of Boston
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.