Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: 1994, Corgi
Category: General Fiction
I’ve been working my way through Susanna Kearsley’s books since I read (and looooved) her The Shadowy Horses. Her books are gothic romantic suspense, beautifully written and just lovely stories. I asked for Mariana for Christmas and when I opened it up there was a bookmark sticking out halfway through. My mom was reading my Christmas presents before wrapping them up! I mean, really, how rude. ;) I had to let her “borrow” it until she’d finished it.
Throughout Julia Beckett’s life she’s been drawn to a particular, very old house named Greywethers in a small town in Wiltshire, England. She can’t explain the connection but when she visits again and finds that the house is for sale, she just knows that she has to buy it. As she moves in, she begins having odd flashbacks, and soon it becomes clear that she is being transported back in time to the 1660s and living moments out of the life of a young woman named Mariana. Mariana had come to live in Greywethers after her family was killed by the plague in London, and she soon falls in love with the dashing local lord, Richard de Mornay. While not experiencing Mariana’s life, Julia is getting to know the present-day inhabitants of the little village, including Richard de Mornay’s descendant, Geoffrey. As she is drawn more and more into the past and the dramatic life of Mariana, Julia finds out why she must “exorcise the past before she could find love and happiness in the present.” [That’s from the cover blurb, which is quite nice.]
I have to say that I love good time-travel stories. And this one is done so interestingly, very different from most. When Julia “is” Mariana, she’s not aware of her modern-day self, but rather knows and feels everything that Mariana did. But when she snaps back to the present, she remembers all that happened to her as Mariana. The mystery is figuring out why this is happening to her, and what impact it will have on her own life.
This book won a Canadian book prize that is awarded for especially good storytelling, and I can completely see why. The story is very original and very clever. Kearsley does wonderful job of describing setting and establishing the mood of both the present and the past in this book. The writing is beautiful.
I did wish we'd seen a little more development in the love story (though this may be because I am such a crazed romance reader). It’s a very dramatic story, heartbreaking at times, and I just didn’t feel as though I got to see the relationships unfold enough for me to be properly invested in their resolutions. Though I did love the way it all worked out. And I can’t say anything more about that without ruining the ending for people. But trust me, it's a really good ending. :)
I have two more Kearsleys in my TBR, so I'm going to have to get to them soon. I got The Splendour Falls for Christmas (Mom read that one too) and I found Named of the Dragon at a UBS recently. Soon my collection will be complete. Mee hee hee!