Friday, December 3, 2010

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew at once that it was her house. Now, twenty-five years later, by some strange chance, she has just become the new owner of the sixteenth-century Wilshire farmhouse. But Julia soon begins to suspect that more than coincidence has brought her there. As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself abruptly transported back in time. Stepping into seventeenth-century England, Julia becomes Mariana, a beautiful young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love for Richard de Mornay, handsome forebear of the present squire of Crofton Hall. Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past, falling ever deeper in love with Richard...until one day she realizes Mariana's life threatens to eclipse her own--and that she must find a way to lay the past to rest, or risk losing a chance for love in her own time.

Mariana is my third book by Susanna Kearsley, who quickly became one of my favourite writers just after reading The Winter Sea. I was never quite a fan of "time slip"/ time travel novels and, at first, I wasn't very sure I would like her books. For me, this was one more proof that I need to step out of my comfort zone more often.

Since she was a child, book illustrator Julia Beckett always felt a connection with Greywethers, a 17th century manor. Unexpectedly, she becomes the owner and immediately feels at ease with her new house, the village and her news friends and neighbors. But suddenly Julia starts to have some strange experiences who take her to another era and another life as Mariana Farr.

The scenes in the 17th century are richly detailed transporting you back in time along with Julia. The transitions between present and past were smoothly done, something that I really appreciated. I could perfectly imagine Mariana’s daily life at her uncle's strict house, while struggling with her feeling for the handsome Richard.
Both Mariana and Julia are characters easy to like and it's impossible not to admire their strength and passion for life.

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the charming small town atmosphere. The descriptions of the local daily life and Julia's interaction with her new neighbors make you want to live there and meet everyone. The secondary characters are also one of the treasures of this novel! You want them to be also your friends and go to the pub with them for a pint and a good chat. I have a soft spot for Julia's brother who won me over with his constant support for his sister and his quirky sense of humor!

Like in the previous books I read by Susanna Kearsley (Winter Sea and Shadowy Horses), the hero in this story is simply divine! I won't say much more, but until now this seems to be a constant in this author's books. You cannot help but to fall for her handsome and mysterious heroes.

Mariana is one of those beautiful stories that will remain in your thoughts for a long time after you finish reading the last page. I simply couldn't put it down while trying, at the same time, to make it last. Definitely a recurring problem with Kearsley's books.

Some final scenes were deeply emotional and I found myself with a box of tissues in my hand and wishing I had the author's entire backlist next to me to read them all in a row.
Grade: 5/5


  1. This book is currently on its way to me, so I'm glad to hear this.

  2. This book sounds wonderful. Thank you for the great review. I will be getting this next. Right now I am finishing another good historical fiction novel called, Blood, Money, Power by Michele Marie Tate, who does a great job of weaving together one family over three generations. The story begins in 1920 and takes you back in time to the Hearst castle era and the golden age of Hollywood. The story is one of murder and intrigue, which is very fascinating.

  3. Mariana was the first book I read by Kearsley this year and I was mesmerized by the style and atmosphere of the story -- loved it! Lovely review, and I enjoyed seeing the various covers of Mariana. This has been a great week of celebrating Susanna and her books -- thanks so much for spotlighting some of my favorite novels!

  4. This is the only book I've read by her and loved it! I read it years ago and only recently figured it's written by Kearsley.

  5. This is one of my favorite books by Kearsley, which is saying a lot. She writes so evocatively of time and place that you cannot help but be drawn into both past and present worlds. Her characters in both the 17th and 20th C are vivid and complex. My one complaint (without going into spoilers) was that I felt bad for the man who didn't get the girl -- I rather fancied him myself.

  6. I really enjoyed this book, but I love being drawn back and forth through time like this. I am always looking for other books like this to read.

  7. my name is Mariana and we are so alike in so many ways. over all i enjoyed reading ths book.