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Women of the Dunes

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From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes. Libby Snow has always felt the pull of U From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes. Libby Snow has always felt the pull of Ullanessm a lush Scottish island enshrouded in myth and deeply important to her family. Her great-great-grandmother Ellen was obsessed with the strange legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the nearly lifeless body of her husband—and who inspired countless epic poems and the island’s name. Central to the mystery is an ornate chalice and Libby, an archaeologist, finally has permission to excavate the site where Ulla is believed to have lived. But what Libby finds in the ancient dunes is a body from the Victorian era, clearly murdered…and potentially connected to Ellen. What unfolds is an epic story that spans centuries, with Libby mining Ellen and Ulla’s stories for clues about the body, and in doing so, discovering the darker threads that bind all three women together across history. Infused with Sarah Maine’s signature “meticulous research and descriptive passages of lush, beautiful landscapes” (Publishers Weekly), Women of the Dunes is a beautifully told and compelling mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams.


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From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes. Libby Snow has always felt the pull of U From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes. Libby Snow has always felt the pull of Ullanessm a lush Scottish island enshrouded in myth and deeply important to her family. Her great-great-grandmother Ellen was obsessed with the strange legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the nearly lifeless body of her husband—and who inspired countless epic poems and the island’s name. Central to the mystery is an ornate chalice and Libby, an archaeologist, finally has permission to excavate the site where Ulla is believed to have lived. But what Libby finds in the ancient dunes is a body from the Victorian era, clearly murdered…and potentially connected to Ellen. What unfolds is an epic story that spans centuries, with Libby mining Ellen and Ulla’s stories for clues about the body, and in doing so, discovering the darker threads that bind all three women together across history. Infused with Sarah Maine’s signature “meticulous research and descriptive passages of lush, beautiful landscapes” (Publishers Weekly), Women of the Dunes is a beautifully told and compelling mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams.

30 review for Women of the Dunes

  1. 3 out of 5

    Julie

    Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine is a 2018 Atria Books publication. “Perhaps that’s what a legend is, a memory preserved over many generations” What a fascinating and thought- provoking Scottish tale spanning centuries and generations, examining legends, the truth behind them, and the way history tends to repeat itself. Libby and her university team have arrived on Ullanessm Island for the summer to work on an excavation project. For Libby, the trip is just as personal as it is professional. Her Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine is a 2018 Atria Books publication. “Perhaps that’s what a legend is, a memory preserved over many generations” What a fascinating and thought- provoking Scottish tale spanning centuries and generations, examining legends, the truth behind them, and the way history tends to repeat itself. Libby and her university team have arrived on Ullanessm Island for the summer to work on an excavation project. For Libby, the trip is just as personal as it is professional. Her great- great grandmother once lived on Sturrock estate, as a service worker. The past timelines, beginning in the 9th century, reveal adultery, scandal, trials of faith, forbidden love, and the makings of legends. Those legends, passed down through the years, has an enormous impact on Ellen, a servant girl in the 19th century. Once more a love triangle emerges, and a man of God questions his faith, while more doubt is cast on lineage and heritage, and eventually leads the reader to Libby. As Libby works closely with the Sturrock family, she finds herself embroiled in their unconventional family dramas, where once more, scandal, lies, and greed brings the legends and myths of old, full circle, while adding and creating their own contemporary legends, sure to be pondered on and investigated by future generations. While the pacing of the story slowly connects the three timelines, it is seamless and easy to follow, and so full of drama, angst, and tension it was hard to put the book aside for any length of time. The vivid Scottish scenery helps to create the rich atmosphere of the novel, combining historical details in with present day analogies. I love legends, myths, folklore, and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. As is demonstrated here, the stories don’t always represent the whole truth, but, they allow us a portal to the past, and has a way of connecting families. But, one must wonder at the validity of the legends, how much truth is blended with embellishments, or if the legends were censured or exaggerated to conceal a scandal, or to protect someone, thus adding a quality of mystery and intrigue to be guessed at and debated for many generations to come. 4 stars

  2. 3 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    4 fascinating Scottish stars to Women of the Dunes! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 The description of this book captivated me. My alter ego in college enjoyed archaeological digs, so I’m up for anything with an excavation, multiple timelines, and history. Women of the Dunes is told in three timelines, including a Norsewoman in the 9th century, a 19th century woman, and a contemporary archaeologist, Libby. A Scottish island, Ullanessm, draws people to it with its ancient stories and myths, including the main characters 4 fascinating Scottish stars to Women of the Dunes! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 The description of this book captivated me. My alter ego in college enjoyed archaeological digs, so I’m up for anything with an excavation, multiple timelines, and history. Women of the Dunes is told in three timelines, including a Norsewoman in the 9th century, a 19th century woman, and a contemporary archaeologist, Libby. A Scottish island, Ullanessm, draws people to it with its ancient stories and myths, including the main characters. How the three timelines intersect is natural and fulfilling. The author has clearly done impeccable research, and her own background in archaeology shows. In the end, this is an interesting tale of betrayal, murder, love, and redemption, shrouded in a cozy, easy-to-read, comforting historical mystery. Thank you to Sarah Maines, Atria Books, and Netgalley for the copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    Women of the Dunes is a beautifully written historical tale about treasures, mysteries, murder, and even a little bit of a romance. The story is told in three alternating viewpoints which includes a Norsewoman in the 9th century, a 19th century woman, and Libby who is an archaeologist. The story slowly but beautifully connects the three timelines together. The author effortlessly builds upon her research and experience in this historical tale which heightens the story even more. And.. let me just Women of the Dunes is a beautifully written historical tale about treasures, mysteries, murder, and even a little bit of a romance. The story is told in three alternating viewpoints which includes a Norsewoman in the 9th century, a 19th century woman, and Libby who is an archaeologist. The story slowly but beautifully connects the three timelines together. The author effortlessly builds upon her research and experience in this historical tale which heightens the story even more. And.. let me just say how much I want to go to Scotland now! The metaphors and visualization in this novel is amazing! In all.... this was an enjoyable read with a cozy mystery at it's finest! I read this in a day... so that must tell you something ;). 3.5 stars rounded up. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Atria for the advanced arc in exchange for a honest review. Published to GR: 7/17/18 Publication date: 7/24/18

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review Well, I was quite excited to receive this story after being refused a copy of Sarah Maine's earlier book, The House Between Tides. Whoever designs the covers for Maine's books should know they are stunning and suit her stories well. However I am feeling(surprisingly) lukewarm over my reading experience. The writing is strong, the multi narrative, an intriguing story, but the pace was slow and the pagan story was probably the most Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review Well, I was quite excited to receive this story after being refused a copy of Sarah Maine's earlier book, The House Between Tides. Whoever designs the covers for Maine's books should know they are stunning and suit her stories well. However I am feeling(surprisingly) lukewarm over my reading experience. The writing is strong, the multi narrative, an intriguing story, but the pace was slow and the pagan story was probably the most fascinating and yet often played second fiddle to the contemporary storyline and that of 1890 which didn't always hold my full attention. Maybe it is me, the heat, or my itchy bug bites, but this was a real hit and miss.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Scotland, back and forth in time, murders, illegitimate children, missing jewels, secrets, buried treasures, legends, a permitted excavation, authentic characters, and an old estate all greet us in WOMEN OF THE DUNES. We follow Libby as she and her university team have gotten permission to excavate the estate of Hector Sturrock and an estate where Libby's great grandmother worked as a servant. Libby's grandmother told her of the legend of Ulla that was part of the estate and the town of Ullaness. Scotland, back and forth in time, murders, illegitimate children, missing jewels, secrets, buried treasures, legends, a permitted excavation, authentic characters, and an old estate all greet us in WOMEN OF THE DUNES. We follow Libby as she and her university team have gotten permission to excavate the estate of Hector Sturrock and an estate where Libby's great grandmother worked as a servant. Libby's grandmother told her of the legend of Ulla that was part of the estate and the town of Ullaness. Libby had always enjoyed the legend and liked to hear it every time she visited her grandmother. When Libby joined the team for the excavation, she had to decide if she would tell what her grandmother had told her and what her great grandmother had kept from the estate. The legend began with a ship coming into a harbor where a monk named Odrhan lived. Ulla was pregnant with her husband’s brother’s child, but when the husband found out about the baby, he badly hurt his brother, Harald, so Ulla sailed away with the injured Harald and sailed to Odrhan for help. As generations continued so did the legend and its people. The most interesting aspect was that Libby was the current generation of the women involved, and there were many secrets kept by them all. 
 WOMEN OF THE DUNES was captivating simply because of the lifestyle of the original family as well as those who lived in the Sturrock estate today. The women of all generations had stories to tell, the estate’s castle-like home still kept its charm, and the legend made WOMEN OF THE DUNES enticing. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the land and the house. Going back in time and hearing a story re-created is something I always love to read about. The two stories - present and past - connected, came full circle, and brilliantly meshed together as mirrored stories. Any reader who enjoys castles, secrets, looking for clues in old documents, and re-tracing the steps of characters that lived long ago will want to read WOMEN OF THE DUNES. WOMEN OF THE DUNES is going to be a favorite. 5/5 This book was given to be as an ARC by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  6. 3 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    The first book I read by Sarah Maine was THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES and I was blown away by the wonderful story and the atmospheric setting. I was eager to find out if WOMEN OF THE DUNES would be as good. And it was! To be able to effortlessly write a book with three different storylines without confusing or making any of the storylines less interesting than the others is a gift and I think that Sarah Maine has this gift. I'm so used to dual storylines that getting one with three storylines feels li The first book I read by Sarah Maine was THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES and I was blown away by the wonderful story and the atmospheric setting. I was eager to find out if WOMEN OF THE DUNES would be as good. And it was! To be able to effortlessly write a book with three different storylines without confusing or making any of the storylines less interesting than the others is a gift and I think that Sarah Maine has this gift. I'm so used to dual storylines that getting one with three storylines feels like an oddity, in a good way. READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

  7. 3 out of 5

    Juli

    Like her great-grandmother before her, Libby Snow is obsessed with Ullaness, a Scottish Island and the Viking Maiden Ulla whose legend gave the island its name. Libby is an archaeologist and she's excited to finally have permission to dig on the site where Ulla allegedly lived. Instead of finding artifacts relating to the legend, the dig uncovers human remains dating back to the Victorian age. The man was murdered, shot to death and his body unceremoniously dumped in a hollow. Clues to the murde Like her great-grandmother before her, Libby Snow is obsessed with Ullaness, a Scottish Island and the Viking Maiden Ulla whose legend gave the island its name. Libby is an archaeologist and she's excited to finally have permission to dig on the site where Ulla allegedly lived. Instead of finding artifacts relating to the legend, the dig uncovers human remains dating back to the Victorian age. The man was murdered, shot to death and his body unceremoniously dumped in a hollow. Clues to the murder bind all 3 women -- Ulla, Libby, and her great-grandmother Ellen -- together across time. This book is so beautifully descriptive and emotional! I loved the story, the characters and the setting. I don't normally like books that alternate characters and different time lines, but for this story it worked perfectly. We get to share the story of all three women and learn how it all weaves together. Just a lovely story! The mystery and the legend are very engaging. The story kept my attention from beginning to end, with some interesting twists and surprises. Very well written! Sarah Maine has written two other books including The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River. I'm definitely going to read her other books! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  8. 3 out of 5

    Sarah

    Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.com Happy Reading, friends! Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine Book Review Three tales all surrounded by mythology, secrets & tradition on the western coast of Scotland. If you're wanting to leave your life behind for a bit, head to Ullaness with Sarah Maine to meet the Women of the Dunes. An Archaeological Dig That Uncovers Secrets Libby Snow has deep-rooted family history to the coastal sea town of Ullaness. Growing up, her grandmother regal Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.com Happy Reading, friends! Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine Book Review Three tales all surrounded by mythology, secrets & tradition on the western coast of Scotland. If you're wanting to leave your life behind for a bit, head to Ullaness with Sarah Maine to meet the Women of the Dunes. An Archaeological Dig That Uncovers Secrets Libby Snow has deep-rooted family history to the coastal sea town of Ullaness. Growing up, her grandmother regaled her with the myth & story of the mysterious Ulla. On the surface, Libby, an archaeologist, arrives in Ullaness prepared to participate in an excavation at Sturrock House. Libby's family has history & they carry secrets from this land. Yet, here Libby is, ready to slide in with the hope of uncovering some truth. Unexpectedly, a man is found dead prior to the start of the official excavation. There's a give & take type of relationship between the landowners & the archaeologists. Libby takes on the role of appeasing the landowners while taking part in the investigation of who this man is & what he was doing in Ullaness. Quickly, emotions, history & her family's ties to this town rise to the surface. Sarah Maine - Three Timelines, Beautiful Scenery & a Mystery. While I can burn through a book in a day, I savored every syllable of Women of the Dunes. I honestly cannot remember reading a book that captivated me in this way. There's something about Sarah Maine's storytelling style that reels me in. Quickly I'm transported into the story, but something tells me to pace myself. This way, I understand & appreciate every morsel of the tale. Let's All Go to Scotland Women of the Dunes is incredibly atmospheric. While I haven't yet visited Scotland, I was THERE. I can picture Sturrock House, the water's edge, the land, the dunes & I loved every minute of Sarah Maine setting the scene. I'm ready to read another book that takes place in Scotland immediately. I need to go back! THE VERDICT I am Really Into This book. Women of the Dunes is not my typical fare & I loved reading a bit outside of my comfort zone. Women of the Dunes has layers of mystery with a historical fiction type of feel. The atmospheric writing is unbeatable & you'll no doubt be entranced by Ullaness. Special thanks to Sarah Maine , Atria Books & NetGalley for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dorine

    Her most engaging novel so far, WOMEN OF THE DUNES by Sarah Maine toys with the reader, teasing us with mysterious tidbits until the final page. Libby Snow’s family history is entrenched in folklore, told over and over through the generations. As an archaeologist, she jumps at the chance to assist with a dig in Scotland where her family’s history supposedly took place. Rodri Sturrock lives at Sturrock House, acting as his brother Hector’s agent regarding the upcoming excavation. He’s adamant about Her most engaging novel so far, WOMEN OF THE DUNES by Sarah Maine toys with the reader, teasing us with mysterious tidbits until the final page. Libby Snow’s family history is entrenched in folklore, told over and over through the generations. As an archaeologist, she jumps at the chance to assist with a dig in Scotland where her family’s history supposedly took place. Rodri Sturrock lives at Sturrock House, acting as his brother Hector’s agent regarding the upcoming excavation. He’s adamant about what they will and will not allow, even though Libby seems to soften his rough edges every time they meet. Sarah Maine’s talent becomes more evident with every book. It’s strange, but I feel a rhythm in her style. It’s balanced like music, sing-song-like, flowing through my head artistically. She paints beautiful landscapes with her words, making the seashore dunes come alive. The mystery builds with captivating gradations. It made me anxious and hopeful that Libby would find the truth to her family’s history. Would it be wonderful, or were they just a pack of thieves? I was camping when I read my digital advanced copy before release day. It held me spellbound for days, but I neglected to put down my thoughts before reading another book. Good thing, too, because it gave me a reason to read it again months later. I don’t think I could have written a deserving review without that second read, and even now I’m not sure I can explain why I love this story so much, but I’ll do my best! The characterization and scene-setting are amazing. Maine has the uncanny ability to give such unique cues to a conversation over tea, making the characters jump off the page and into your heart. I love the nuances of our hero, Rodri, and his foodie business partners. They get on like old friends who love each other as family. They’re not even close to a normal family, so their idiosyncrasies and secrets attract Libby’s curiosity. Maine gives such good attention to details that are never boring, making the book play like a movie in my head. This novel is no less entertaining the second time through. It’s so good that I didn’t dare skim for fear of missing some exquisite detail. The story goes through three different time periods as it solves the mysteries surrounding the archaeological dig the book centers on. The main characters are the archaeologists who want the historical discovery, the local police who want to resolve a more recently buried body, and the two brothers who own or live on the estate in question. There isn’t just one mystery, so the trail is complicated and entertaining through years of folklore and misdeeds. And, of course, there is a despicable villain who becomes more appalling toward the end. Looking back at the history, two holy men fall in love with mysterious women, which adds to the gossip surrounding the dig. Then there are three generations of warring brothers. With several points of view to tell each generation’s truth, the present-day archaeologists are searching for these same stories among the ruins. There seems to be too much going on, in the way I describe it, but it’s so mesmerizing. Loaded with deliciously addictive prose and an equally addictive plot, WOMEN OF THE DUNES is exactly the style of fiction I love. With a bit of tender romance that makes me hopeful for a fairy-tale ending, I’m begging for a sequel to catch-up with the sons when they’re grown. Sarah Maine has a talent for setting place and time that pulls me into her stories. I especially enjoyed the main characters this time, specifically since their stories are told bit by bit as history is discovered. Maine’s talent for characterization is progressing vividly. Especially with Rodri and his family. They were so much fun that I kept rereading their scenes. If I had to make a comparison, I feel as though WOMEN OF THE DUNES moves much faster with the same exquisite detail as THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES and BEYOND THE WILD RIVER, but with a depiction that leaps off the page. Although I enjoyed the latter two books, WOMEN OF THE DUNES is beyond brilliant from beginning to end. Don’t miss this Romance Junkies’ Recommended Read! Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies. Digital ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review. ***Oct. 4 mini review*** Excellent historical mystery mixed with modern day archaeology. Full review to come. Even better the 2nd time, and I took notes this time, so hopefully my review will reflect why I loved it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    M.K.

    Sarah Maine weaves not one, not two, but three timelines together in this novel set in Scotland. Highly enjoyable, with interesting characters and an intriguing premise.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Ernst

    I enjoyed this tale set on Scotland's western coast. Not a mystery in the traditional whodunit sense, but a story of family history, legends, and lore. Viewpoints include Libby, an archeologist seeking answers to a long-lost family secret, and an ancestor who once lived on the estate Libby is now studying. The author creates a wonderful sense of place. All in all an enjoyable read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    This book has 3 big POVS, even if Libby is the main one. Libby comes to Scotland for a dig. But her great grandmother was from there and she knows the legend they are to uncover. Then there is Ellen in 1890, a servant at the big house. She loves the old legend. And the question is, why did she leave for Canada? What happened back the? Ellen had her head in the clouds. I get that she was pretty, but everyone sure went crazy for her. Also, she was not alone with her POV, the priest Oliver has a POV This book has 3 big POVS, even if Libby is the main one. Libby comes to Scotland for a dig. But her great grandmother was from there and she knows the legend they are to uncover. Then there is Ellen in 1890, a servant at the big house. She loves the old legend. And the question is, why did she leave for Canada? What happened back the? Ellen had her head in the clouds. I get that she was pretty, but everyone sure went crazy for her. Also, she was not alone with her POV, the priest Oliver has a POV here too. Which brings us to Ulla, who comes with her dying lover to this part of Scotland that will have her name. Fleeing from her husband and meeting a monk, but, it was not Ulla who had this POV. It was Oran the monk who was fine living there as a hermit before vikings comes and mess things up. Oran was so! Well you can imagine, but he was a man of his time. I did wonder about Ulla and her thoughts, but we never got those. Oh and how on earth could they speak with each other? A dig. And uncovering what happened to her ancestor. Libby has a lot before her. And she also becomes embroiled with those who own the land. Oh he was hard to get to know, but I liked him. You will see. A lovely book set in different times and connected to each other. In more than one way. Narrator Ruth Urqhart I really like her voice and she was perfect for this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    Well, I was quite curious about this one. Love the name and the cover. It's a bit slowed pace for me,but I enjoyed reading it. It's narrated through 3 different times. But I didn't really understand why sometimes in same chapter it showed to times. I didn't fell right, I read 2 similar books in terms of construction this year and I kind of compared them unconsciously I suppose. It's a mystery. You don't understand if there's a slow burn romance going on or just some complicity happening. It's strang Well, I was quite curious about this one. Love the name and the cover. It's a bit slowed pace for me,but I enjoyed reading it. It's narrated through 3 different times. But I didn't really understand why sometimes in same chapter it showed to times. I didn't fell right, I read 2 similar books in terms of construction this year and I kind of compared them unconsciously I suppose. It's a mystery. You don't understand if there's a slow burn romance going on or just some complicity happening. It's strange.  Sure, it is a historical novel, with what seems to be a repeating pattern. To me it was okay, although it has potential.

  14. 3 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    Can I give this one more than 5 stars?!? Sometimes a book comes along and it’s like it was written just for you. I have been a huge Sarah Maine fan since reading Bhalla Strand, which is now known as The House Between Tides. When I saw that this one was out, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to read it earlier, so I checked it out from my library and brought it with me to Seattle for vacation. Her books are always so atmospheric and have this kind of dark romantic prose so I fig Can I give this one more than 5 stars?!? Sometimes a book comes along and it’s like it was written just for you. I have been a huge Sarah Maine fan since reading Bhalla Strand, which is now known as The House Between Tides. When I saw that this one was out, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to read it earlier, so I checked it out from my library and brought it with me to Seattle for vacation. Her books are always so atmospheric and have this kind of dark romantic prose so I figured it would be an exciting vacation read. So let’s just say that it was evident that this book was going to keep me up into the late hours of the evening. From the second I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down! Like I literally had to tear myself away from this book because I didn’t want it to be over and I wanted to savor every single page! I love the archeology parts. In another life, I planned on being Indiana Jones and I actually did take quite a few classes in college to become a Biblical archeologist, but then I loved literature and writing so much that my path went another way. But I love books with archeology in them and Maine’s knowledge and attention to detail shines in this book. I love the legend and oral tradition aspects of this story and how that played out in multiple ways in this book. This was the most interesting angle for me and I absolutely devoured the history, legend, and archeological elements. In a word—outstanding. Then came the characters…..a smart, yet secretive independent woman with a mysterious connection to the legend and past, double check. A handsome, yet brooding caretaker with a tragic past—-YES YES YES CHECK. I loved that the secondary characters and the alternating time period characters didn’t eclipse the two main ones. Libby and Rodri have great chemistry and carried the story without any problem. In fact, when we switched to Ellen and the other Sturrock characters, I was greatly annoyed. I wanted to keep reading just Libby and Rodri’s story however, before I knew it, I was enjoying Ellen’s portions just as much. I think what stood out to me was the romantic angle. Ellen’s portions were clearly a love story, but Libby and Rodri’s were less obvious. Throughout the book, the chemistry and growing attraction between Libby and Rodri are hardly mentioned but the reader will easily see the subtle changes as the story goes on. It takes a true talent to show readers a subtle romance without any real confirmation of the feelings. There isn’t some grand, let me tear your clothes off moment, to tell the reader that YES they are in love. All of a sudden about half way through this book I was like awwww they like each other—a lot. And it literally stole my heart. I loved loved loved how mature and how surprisingly romantic this approach was. There were so many things to love about this book. The setting, the legend, the romance—-it had everything. Maine’s books always remind me a little of a modern Victoria Holt or Daphne du Maurier. I can’t get enough of her books and I am looking forward to reading the next one she puts out. Not going to lie, I wouldn’t mind revisiting these characters in other books but I know that Maine will create new characters that I will love just as much! This was easily my favorite read of the summer, if not the entire year. I can’t remember having loved a book as much as I loved this one in a long time! Final note—-whoever her cover designer is should get a huge shout out. Her covers are beautiful and the artist captures the essence of her books so well. I am absolutely in love with this cover and can’t get enough of it! See my full review here

  15. 3 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

    3.5 stars

  16. 3 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    Legends are just that - legends. As the stories are passed down from generation to generation, pieces of the stories get lost, but other stories are added in. But what if some of the family legends had more truth than originally thought? Libby was drawn to the area where the legend started. With an archaeological dig planned there for the summer, she is excited to get started and uncover more about the stories that Ellen used to share. As her Nan shared the stories from Ellen, Libby was drawn in Legends are just that - legends. As the stories are passed down from generation to generation, pieces of the stories get lost, but other stories are added in. But what if some of the family legends had more truth than originally thought? Libby was drawn to the area where the legend started. With an archaeological dig planned there for the summer, she is excited to get started and uncover more about the stories that Ellen used to share. As her Nan shared the stories from Ellen, Libby was drawn in as a kid. But there are some surprises that are still waiting to be discovered. Rodri is managing the estate for his brother, the current baronet. Yet there are things on his end that still shrouded in mystery. His brother has been absent for many years, and his wife, the Lady Sturrock is obsessed with wealth and material items. She is trying to sell off the estate a piece at a time, while Rodri tries to keep it intact. What starts as an innocent encounter, quickly turns into much more. A body is revealed, but one that is much later than the time period Libby is studying, and yet, there is so much more than archaeology drawing her time and time again to the house... The Women Of The Dunes drew me in from the beginning. Ulla, Ellen, and Libby all draw together to bring this story that spans centuries to a thrilling and exciting conclusion. I honestly LOVED this book. I started and finished in one sitting. I could NOT put it down! Perfect for a weekend read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tami

    I wish I had read this about a month earlier during the time I was visiting Scotland because it would have made a wonderful story even better! Sarah Maine has written an engrossing tale of an old Scottish myth, complete with a dig for buried treasure, a budding romance, murder and mystery. The story centers around Libby Snow, a young archaeologist who becomes involved in an excavation on a Scottish island that also has a connection to her own family history. The story is told in the form of three I wish I had read this about a month earlier during the time I was visiting Scotland because it would have made a wonderful story even better! Sarah Maine has written an engrossing tale of an old Scottish myth, complete with a dig for buried treasure, a budding romance, murder and mystery. The story centers around Libby Snow, a young archaeologist who becomes involved in an excavation on a Scottish island that also has a connection to her own family history. The story is told in the form of three different time periods, slowly weaving the ancient legend together and revealing the truth about the past. I looked forward to reading this each day and it is definitely one of my favorite reads this year. It had everything to offer that I love about historical fiction. Mystery and history lovers will enjoy this as well. Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to read an advance copy and give an honest review.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    It's been nearly two weeks now that I finished this and it is interesting what time does to your opinion of the book. I can say that I did enjoy reading it because after all I stayed up until 2 am to finish this, but there was just one storyline too many. A Viking one, one set in Victorian time, one in present day. As much as I adore dual timeline narratives, I don't think triple timeline is really working for me, and it was the present day timeline that I was mainly interested in and that kept It's been nearly two weeks now that I finished this and it is interesting what time does to your opinion of the book. I can say that I did enjoy reading it because after all I stayed up until 2 am to finish this, but there was just one storyline too many. A Viking one, one set in Victorian time, one in present day. As much as I adore dual timeline narratives, I don't think triple timeline is really working for me, and it was the present day timeline that I was mainly interested in and that kept me reading. I also was hard pressed to accept the tenuous link between the timelines at times. Still: I liked it. Not as much as House Between Tides, but there is no doubt, that I will keep picking up Sarah Maine's books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and the author for a free advanced copy. *3 stars rounded up to 4* When I am reading a synopsis of a book and I come across the word Scotland, I don’t have to read any further. Scotland is my absolute favorite location for a book. “Women of the Dunes” is a charming story that tells the legends of two women and the story of our modern day archeologist Libby. There are three time lines at play here, a bit much but not confusing. The setting was absolutely beauti Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and the author for a free advanced copy. *3 ½ stars rounded up to 4* When I am reading a synopsis of a book and I come across the word Scotland, I don’t have to read any further. Scotland is my absolute favorite location for a book. “Women of the Dunes” is a charming story that tells the legends of two women and the story of our modern day archeologist Libby. There are three time lines at play here, a bit much but not confusing. The setting was absolutely beautiful, and you throw in a few Viking men, a beautiful Norseman woman, pagans, Victorian age Christians and their young maid, a modern day brooding Scotsman and you definitely have a recipe of romantic proportions. I have to admit, I did not go into this book thinking romance would play this big of a part; I enjoyed it none the less. Once I got passed the slow start I adored all the characters. Except Libby, she was a little flat for me. For a modern day educated woman she was a tab bit slow for my liking. This was my first read from this author but I can honestly say it will not be my last. I would recommend this book for lovers of this genre.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rosario (http://rosario.blogspot.com/)

    Just like The Boundless Deep, which I recently reviewed, this is the kind of book I love, a story about women in different time periods, their lives tied together in some way. In the present day, Libby Snow is an archaeologist. She's soon to be part of a project to excavate a burial mound in the remote island of Ullaness, in the West Coast of Scotland. Libby has a personal connection to the area: as a child she spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia with her grandmother, who loved to tell young Libby Just like The Boundless Deep, which I recently reviewed, this is the kind of book I love, a story about women in different time periods, their lives tied together in some way. In the present day, Libby Snow is an archaeologist. She's soon to be part of a project to excavate a burial mound in the remote island of Ullaness, in the West Coast of Scotland. Libby has a personal connection to the area: as a child she spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia with her grandmother, who loved to tell young Libby stories passed on by her own grandmother, Ellen, who had been born in Ullanness herself. Ellen had worked as a domestic servant in the manor, and she was the one who immigrated to Canada at some point in the 19th century. Ellen loved to entertain her granddaughter with stories about the island's legend, which featured a 9th century viking woman, Ulla, and a monk Odrhan (her lover? protector? friend?), and in turn, granny passed all those on to Libby. But Ellen also spoke about other things, including mentions of a "murder that had been done", and Libby has heard of those as well. A few weeks before the dig is due to start, Libby decides to pay a quick visit to the island. Mostly it's that she wants to get the lay of the land, but there's something else on her mind. She's recently received from her grandmother a clearly very old cross, something that is supposed to have come from Ellen. And the cross is suspiciously similar to a chalice that used to be part of a medieval cache found on Ullaness, and which has been recently stolen in a mysterious burglary. Libby is a bit worried. How did Ellen come to have the cross? Did she steal it? She's not quite sure what she should do with it, but part of her hopes visiting the island will give her some ideas. But the visit to Ullaness is more eventful than she was expecting. First an unexpected meeting with Rodri Sturrock, brother to the man who owns the manor and the land the excavation is supposed to take place on. Rodri is his brother's agent, and the bloody-minded man Libby and her colleagues have had so much trouble getting agreement from. And then, after a bit of a storm, Libby discovers a body in the area her team is meant to excavate. It's not a recent one, likely Victorian. And suddenly Libby is remembering Ellen's mutterings about murder. Most of the time is spent in the present with Libby (and Rodri), but interspersed with her story, we get the story of Ulla and her monk, as well as that of Ellen. The former is very short, but the latter is a lot more developed. Ellen is a maid at the big house, and when the two sons of of the house arrive, it's a mix of good and bad news. One is a predatory piece of shit, and she's rightfully scared of him, while the other is a very nice, caring man, and Ellen has a bit of a crush on him. I particularly enjoyed the present-day story, which is what takes up the biggest proportion of the book. Libby quickly becomes entangled in the lives of Rodri and two women, Alice and Maddy, who are his friends and business partners. They become her friends, actually, and it was really nice to see. Libby is not the most deeply developed character ever, but there's certainly the impression that she's been a bit lonely in the past. Growing up she was quite unmoored from family, forever moving between different relatives, so being adopted by these people is a new experience for her, and clearly one she enjoys. The stakes in this section are not really about the investigation into the past. I had expected the events of Ellen and Ulla's lives to have some bearing on Libby and her life, but they don't really. In the present-day section, the big thing that's going on is the threat to Rodri and his friends and to the estate itself from Rodri's brother and his wife, who are seemingly determined to bleed the place dry. There are some surprises there, and some of them are unexpectedly dramatic (possibly in a way that didn't quite go with the tone of the book that well). The mirroring I was expecting in Libby's life actually takes place mainly between Ulla's story and Ellen's. The patterns repeat themselves there, and both are very sad stories. We know things will end in tragedy, given Libby's find, but not quite how. I was a bit less interested in these stories, but they were ok. On the whole, this was quite an enjoyable read. MY GRADE: A B.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Guylou

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Atria Book for providing me an ARC of Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine in exchange for an honest review. The story goes back and forth between three timelines which described the lives of three women. The first timeline is about a Norsewoman in the ninth century named Ulla who escaped her evil Viking husband with her lover and sailed to Scotland. There, Ulla meets a monk upon her arrival and asks him to help to save her lover who was seriously wounded. Her lov I would like to thank NetGalley and Atria Book for providing me an ARC of Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine in exchange for an honest review. The story goes back and forth between three timelines which described the lives of three women. The first timeline is about a Norsewoman in the ninth century named Ulla who escaped her evil Viking husband with her lover and sailed to Scotland. There, Ulla meets a monk upon her arrival and asks him to help to save her lover who was seriously wounded. Her lover dies, but a legend is birthed. The second timeline is about a Scottish servant woman in the nineteenth century named Ellen who lived on the estate where the legend of Ulla was born. Ellen is obsessed with Ulla’s story. She ends up leaving Scotland and moving to Newfoundland, but never forgot the legend and passed it on to her daughter who passed it on to her grand-daughter, Libby. The last timeline is about Libby, a young archeologist in the twenty-first century. Libby finds the perfect job; she is hired as a lead archeologist on a project which will take place in the birthplace of her grandmother. The project is to dig a mound where, it is believed, Ulla’s lover was buried. In preparation for the dig, Libby visits the site and discovers that the mound hides many secrets which could change everything she heard about the legend. This is a fantastic read. The book has all the elements of a great story: love, betrayal, murder, and forgiveness. This book will be available at your favorite bookstore on July 24, 2018.

  22. 3 out of 5

    marlin1

    Surrounded by the legend of Ulla as childhood stories told by her grandmother, Libby Snow gets the chance to work on an archaeological dig at the very place where these stories took place – Ullaness. She doesn’t tell anyone of her connection, especially as her great grandmother Ellen was a servant at Sturrock House in 1890 or of the strange necklace she has in her possession. Finding a body is something that was anticipated, just not the Victorian age one that was discovered. And what was the co Surrounded by the legend of Ulla as childhood stories told by her grandmother, Libby Snow gets the chance to work on an archaeological dig at the very place where these stories took place – Ullaness. She doesn’t tell anyone of her connection, especially as her great grandmother Ellen was a servant at Sturrock House in 1890 or of the strange necklace she has in her possession. Finding a body is something that was anticipated, just not the Victorian age one that was discovered. And what was the connection of the same necklace that is in Libby’s possession, as to the one that was discovered with the body. This multi layered novel was a delight. Covering the three women, Ulla C800 AD – just small paragraphs inserted in the story, Ellen in 1890 and the modern day Libby I was transported into each story, although I did connect with Libby’s story the most. I loved the slow relationship growth there was between Libby and Rodri Sturrock as they work together and the side story of Laila, the manipulative sister in law to Rodri. This was a story to get lost in and I’m only sad that due to real life, I couldn’t spend a day or two lost in it. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for a digital ARC to read

  23. 3 out of 5

    Hannelore Cheney

    Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the eARC. Such a lovely story, I absolutely loved this book. Three women are connected through three timelines: Ulla, Ellen and Libby. In the present, Libby is preparing for a dig in Western Scotland, after having spent much of her childhood staying with family in Newfoundland listening to stories of Ulla, the Norsewoman who arrived in Scotland after escaping her brutal husband with his brother, her lover. Generations later, Ellen escapes Scotland to start a Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the eARC. Such a lovely story, I absolutely loved this book. Three women are connected through three timelines: Ulla, Ellen and Libby. In the present, Libby is preparing for a dig in Western Scotland, after having spent much of her childhood staying with family in Newfoundland listening to stories of Ulla, the Norsewoman who arrived in Scotland after escaping her brutal husband with his brother, her lover. Generations later, Ellen escapes Scotland to start a new life in Newfoundland. Libby, fascinated by the myth of Ulla, is ecstatic to be able to make her dream come true: digging into the past, hopefully learning more about Ulla and her own ancestors. The three storylines were lovingly told and easy to follow, and each was fascinating, really absorbing and it was hard for me to put the book down ... I didn't want the book to end. Great atmosphere too, it reminded me a bit of books by the great Daphne du Maurier. Fantastic read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sharlene

    A beautifully told and intriguing mystery about two generations of Scottish women united by blood, an obsession with the past, and a long-hidden body, from the author of The House Between Tides. This is truly one of the best books I have read this year. It has everything you need for a great story; suspense, great location, fabulous characters and a mystery that kept me guessing right up to the end of the book. If you enjoy the books of Susanna Kearsley or Kate Morton, you will enjoy this one A def A beautifully told and intriguing mystery about two generations of Scottish women united by blood, an obsession with the past, and a long-hidden body, from the author of The House Between Tides. This is truly one of the best books I have read this year. It has everything you need for a great story; suspense, great location, fabulous characters and a mystery that kept me guessing right up to the end of the book. If you enjoy the books of Susanna Kearsley or Kate Morton, you will enjoy this one A definite "could not put this one down" read. 5 stars all the way.

  25. 3 out of 5

    Taylor

    I received a copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love any book that has to do with Scotland and this is no exception. We follow three women of different centuries, and experience the love, heartbreak, and all other manners of turmoil. It is a bit hard trying to keep up with all three stories but it was well worth it to me.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Angie Atkins

    3.5 Stars. I feel like the book was slow moving at first. I enjoyed reading the points of view from the characters of the past and wanted more of that. Overall, it held my interest and really picked up 3/4 of the way in.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martina Munroe

    an easyish read. Enjoyable story lines. The 3 timelines were easy to follow.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Anastasia

    3 strong women from 3 different times are the main characters in this drama. It involves love, religion and family politics. A nice easy read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessie B

    I really enjoyed Sarah Maine’s The House Between Tides, and was thrilled to discover she had written a new novel. While I went into The House Between Tides without any expectations, I must admit my hopes were quite high for this latest release. Thankfully, Women of the Dunes did not disappoint; in fact, it’s safe to say I’ve found another favorite historical fiction writer. Sarah Maine’s writing is descriptive and evocative. As was the case with her previous novel, the Scottish island setting rea I really enjoyed Sarah Maine’s The House Between Tides, and was thrilled to discover she had written a new novel. While I went into The House Between Tides without any expectations, I must admit my hopes were quite high for this latest release. Thankfully, Women of the Dunes did not disappoint; in fact, it’s safe to say I’ve found another favorite historical fiction writer. Sarah Maine’s writing is descriptive and evocative. As was the case with her previous novel, the Scottish island setting really steals the show here. Maine masterfully captures a wonderfully vivid sense of place and atmosphere. I could easily picture the titular dunes, the sea, and the historic house and ruins. It was so enjoyable to feel transported to a windy beach in Scotland for a bit. I loved how the dunes, treasure, and the myth itself played a cental part in each timeline. Everything came full circle in the end, and the characters in each section share something in common with one another. The ancient legend is slowly unraveled over the course of the book, and we get to see how it has changed throughout the centuries. The stories of Ulla, Ellen, and Libby overlap and diverge in compelling ways. No matter how much time separates these women, traces of the past do not lie buried forever. Secrets can always be revealed if you know where to dig. Sarah Maine has woven yet another gripping tale featuring multiple narratives and timelines. Women of the Dunes is an enjoyable blend of history, mystery, suspense, and romance that should appeal to fans of well-written and atmospheric historical fiction. **A huge thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review** Full review here: https://dwellinpossibilityblog.wordpr...

  30. 5 out of 5

    skketch

    ***NOVEL THOUGHTS*** Women of the Dunes weaves its way through time, legend, murder, mystery and madness. Told over 3 time periods, the mystery and Viking legend of Ulla, Harald and Odrhan, crashes into the present day as Libby Snow, archaeologist from St John's Canada, comes to Sturrock Castle in Scotland to excavate a large sand dune suspected of holding secrets from the past, but the secrets they reveal aren't the ones they expect to find. Following tales from her own ancestry, Libby is drawn ***NOVEL THOUGHTS*** Women of the Dunes weaves its way through time, legend, murder, mystery and madness. Told over 3 time periods, the mystery and Viking legend of Ulla, Harald and Odrhan, crashes into the present day as Libby Snow, archaeologist from St John's Canada, comes to Sturrock Castle in Scotland to excavate a large sand dune suspected of holding secrets from the past, but the secrets they reveal aren't the ones they expect to find. Following tales from her own ancestry, Libby is drawn to Sturrock where her own great grandmother Ellen, illegitimate daughter of the Laird of Sturrock, had worked as a housemaid for the gentry. Libby was raised on the legend of Ulla, Harald and Odrhan, told to her by her Nan. The question Libby has is how much of the legend is true and can evidence be found to support it. How much excavation will the current Laird of Sturrock let her team do? Are they ready for what they will find? 800 AD Sturrock: A boat carrying a beautiful pregnant woman and an injured man along with a vast treasure, land on the shore of an isolated beach and are met by a priest. So begins the legend of Ullaness. 1890s Sturrock: Ellen is a young woman working at Sturrock Castle and taking care of her ailing mother in a cottage provided by the residing Laird, her father. His sons, Mungo, a vile woman-chaser with no visible employment and Alick, a kind and protective man also looking for his way in the world, share the castle. Ellen has a very vivid imagination and believes she is connected in spirit with Ulla. A struggling Presbyterian minister Oliver Drummond, lives nearby the castle on the grounds that were once occupied by Odrhan-- a man of faith at the time when Christianity was a hard idea for the pagans of the time to understand. Present day Sturrock: Rodri Sturrock is the keeper of the estate for his brother Sir Hector, who lives abroad with his wife, Lady Laila. The three of them have a convoluted past, which leads the reader to realize some resentment and anger. There is a surprising twist to this part of the story and it kept me turning pages to see how it will play out. Rodri encounters visitor Libby as she walks the beach below the castle on her own private journey of the land and her past ahead of her excavation team. An interesting relationship develops between this hard-nosed Scotsman and Libby as they begin to unwind the secrets of the dunes. In the end, the author reveals the truth about all the mysteries of the Dunes as the full story comes out with each storyline. It didn’t take a lot of time to adjust to the different time lines. Each time has its own speaker or multiple speakers. In the middle of the book, I enjoyed the 1890s part as it over lapped the present day. The story could have done without the DeClan character: he wasn’t that needed to move the story along. The conversations between the Oliver Drummond the 1890s priest and Alick Sturrock regarding the concept of faith and the concept of spiritualiism was very interesting as they both require the belief in “what is not seen” but accepted. I enjoyed the writing style but, it got slow at times especially in the beginning as the author was introducing Libby; too much unnecessary detail. The character of Ellen seemed very naïve and child-like and never seemed completely developed: she lived in a world of fantasy most of the time. I didn’t like the wrap up of “that lovely woman” Laila at all! Seriously???

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