THE OCEAN IN WINTER by Elizabeth de Veer - Excerpt - "Remarkable"

We are pleased to welcome Elizabeth de Veer to Books & Benches as she gives us a sneak peek at The Ocean in Winter.

''This tale of love, loss, grief, and connections is one that could shatter your heartstrings. It is a saga of family turmoil that hints of the supernatural—a world of spirits that try to alert of danger, the past, and the way forward.'' —Mystery & Suspense

Enjoy an excerpt from

The Ocean in Winter

After a four-and-a-half-hour drive, I arrive in Manhattan, thrilled but terrified to be someplace new. The GPS takes me directly to the hotel, and shortly after eleven p.m., I check in. The room is tiny and cramped with a double bed and a reading chair that I need to squeeze past to get to the bathroom. The view isn’t much, just a row of brick buildings with layers of buildings beyond it, and more buildings beyond those.

I sit down in the soft chair and stare out the window at the city for a while. I wonder if she’s out there in the darkness; maybe I am looking straight at her now but can’t see her. Then I notice, beside the chair, a stack of glossy magazines in a basket. A while ago, Today investigated hotel rooms and used ultraviolet light to show all the body fluids that never get cleaned from the bedspreads and walls, but I defy Savannah Guthrie and pick up a magazine—I don’t really want to touch the TV remote, but I probably will even- tually. It’s a couple of years old. I flip through pages and stop on a shiny perfume ad featuring a young woman dressed in brightly colored feathers, with darkness behind her. She holds a mask on a stick away from her face and gives a coy, mischievous smile. The line of cleavage from her breasts peeks out from behind the feath- ers. I look at the picture for several moments before I realize: this is my sister.

And that is how Riley works: she appears where I do not expect her, in a place where I was not looking for her. And when I do find her, I barely recognize her.

I wake up early in my hotel bed, then brave the remote to switch on the news; temperatures today will be relatively mild, midforties with low wind. After the winter we’ve been having up north, that sounds like spring.

I lose myself again staring out the window as light rises to shine on the adjacent brick buildings. If she were dead, I would know it in my body; I am sure I would. I pour water from the sink into the coffee brewer and push the on button. Riley. She’s changed her address, phone number, and email address, all without tell- ing me or Alex or Dad. But why? Did she have a bad breakup? A stalker? A problem with work? Taxes? People don’t just fall off the face of the earth.

Do they?

I sit on the edge of the bed and drink my coffee. She could be hurt, alone, scared. Or, then again, maybe her boyfriend is a member of the Saudi royal family and she’s with him on his yacht right now, lying on a beach chair off the coast of Dubai. Maybe she needs to keep quiet about it because he’s married.

Maybe she’s in the witness protection program. Maybe she’s a spy.

I think about these things, and there is a pull on my insides, a sour kind of ache of something I half know but don’t want to admit. Maybe Riley started using opioids again. And if that’s happening, we really need to be worried. Riley, where are you?

End of Excerpt

Excerpt Copyright © Elizabeth de Veer. Shared with permission.

About the Book

The Ocean in Winter

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.

Blackstone Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

''Do we choose our memories, or do our memories choose us? That's the central question for the three sisters in Elizabeth de Veer's emotionally rich, incandescent debut novel. The Ocean in Winter is a page-turner of a book with a family mystery at its core, and profoundly explores the ways in which women struggle to rebuild their lives after grief and trauma. You won't want to put it down once you start.'' —Holly Robinson, author of Beach Plum Island and Chance Harbor

The Author

Author Elizabeth de Veer

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.

To learn more, check out her web site at

Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and Instagram.


Genre: Women's Fiction

Type: Novel

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

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