The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy)
Author: Sarah Sundin
Released: February 6, 2018
Betrayal as deep . . .
Love as mysterious . . .
As the sea before them.
In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family’s summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.
As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.
The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life in this powerful new series.
In a story of intrigue, bravery, development, and faith, historical fiction author Sarah Sundin once again brings to life a beautiful story of World War Two heroes and heroines. The Sea Before Us, the first novel of Sundin’s “Sunrise at Normandy” series, is a thrilling beginning to a trilogy set around D-Day. My most anticipated novel of 2018, The Sea Before Us exemplifies why Sundin is a favorite of World War Two novel readers–she is a master of blending historical details, strong plots, and authentic emotions into the stories of the brave men and women who fought during the world’s most troubling time.
In a series reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk–depicting a World War Two battle through the lenses of soldiers fighting from the sea, sky, and land–The Sea Before Us opens the series from the perspective of naval officer Lieutenant Wyatt Paxton and WREN Dorothy Fairfax. Series typically are written with stories in chronological order, but the Sunrise at Normandy series stories will be told simultaneously, with each Paxton brother depicting his story from his particular perspective of the battle. I am so excited to read a series written in this order and found Wyatt’s perspective–from the sea–a engaging one that opened D-Day and its preceding and following events in a way that has me eagerly awaiting the next story. With such a captivating tale of the sea battle, I can just imagine how well written the stories from the land and air will be.
The Sea Before Us centers upon two characters who struggle with love–familial, romantic, and for and by God. Wyatt Paxton and Dorothy Fairfax’s stories deeply touched me because Sundin’s talent for writing emotionally compelling characters drew this hero and heroine off of the page. While the circumstances surrounding Dorothy and Wyatt’s respective stories were out of my realm of understanding–and therefore kept me from wholly identifying with them–I never once questioned these characters’ feelings. Of the two main characters, Wyatt’s steadiness, loyalty, protectiveness, and determination to do right by his family endeared him to my heart. I never found Dorothy, however, more than passably likable because her character development came across as shallow. She did, though, make strides in this development toward the end of the book, which I was happy to read because her story was so touching.
While The Sea Before Us was my most anticipated book of 2018, this novel is not my favorite of Sundin’s for a few reasons. Names of numerous side characters as well as the various titles of the military men and women who crossed paths with Wyatt and Dorothy overtook scenes, and I found myself frequently pulled out of the story as I tried to place ranks with duties, abbreviations, and branches of the military. Wyatt and Dorothy’s romance, while sweet, felt flat in its execution despite how often they were together on the pages. I knew why and how they came together but never truly felt their feelings for each other. I also would have preferred more showing in Sundin’s writing technique rather than the telling that seemed to overtake her prose.
Sundin’s passion for World War Two history and her subsequent mastery of transferring that passion and knowledge onto the pages of the story took the moderate pace of The Sea Before Us to an engaging one. This author’s ability to infuse the stories of men and women with the details, dangers, and bravery of this time period is second-to-none. By contrast of the slower pace with which I turned the pages of most of this book, when the D-Day invasion approached, I couldn’t get enough of The Sea Before Us. I was absolutely transfixed by what I saw of the invasion through Wyatt’s eyes. One piece of the scene that involved sailors and soldiers communicating in an unexpected way brought even more admiration and respect for the Greatest Generation that I already had–the mark of a truly talented author.
RATING: 3.5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, Anchor in the Storm, and When Tides Turn in the Waves of Freedom series, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. Her popular Through Waters Deep was a Carol Award finalist and named to Booklist‘s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. Sarah lives in California. Visit her website for more information.