Review: The Sea Gate

Title: The Sea Gate
Author: Jane Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A broken family, a house of secrets—an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.

After Rebecca’s mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother’s mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.

Olivia, her mother’s elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.

As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner…

A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she’ll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.


After Rebecca’s mother dies suddenly, she finds letters from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia. Olivia needs help renovating her home so she can move back in after breaking her leg. While Rebecca is fixing Olivia’s home, she finds some mysterious things, including a human finger bone, which makes her curious about her cousin. When Olivia was a young woman during WWII, she fell in love and had to make some tough decisions. Rebecca slowly uncovers Olivia’s past as she fixes up her house.

This was such a powerful story about love and loss. The story opened with Rebecca losing her mother suddenly, but she discovered her distant relative, Olivia. Olivia suffered some tragic losses during the war, but she also found love.

Olivia was treated horribly during the war and later in life. She was left with strangers after her father went to fight and her mother went to London. When she saw injustices happen, she tried to fight them but wasn’t believed and earned a negative reputation. This carried on throughout her life. It was so disappointing to see a young woman treated this way, just because she was a woman.

There was some possibly triggering content in this story. There was a rape, assaults, and murder. These scenes were brief, but could be triggering to some readers.

I loved this story. I couldn’t put it down! This is a beautiful and powerful historical story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

Have you read The Sea Gate? What did you think of it?

Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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