Mariana by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦)
1665 Is a year of plague in London. Young Mariana Farr has lost her mother to the plague, and has left the city in a hurry to escape the disease. She goes to live with her uncle and his family at Greywethers, in the village of Exbury. In the months that follow, Mariana settles into her daily life and falls in love with the lord of the manor next door.
Present day…Books illustrator Julia Beckett has been in love with Greywethers cottage since she was a child, so when the opportunity presents itself, Julia buys it, exchanging her city life for a peaceful country living in the village of Exbury.
It seems Mariana and Julia have something in common, but what?
Mariana is the third book I’ve read by Susanna Kearsley after The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden. Kearsley is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine, though I didn’t like The Rose Garden as much as the other two. Mariana was first published in 1994 and won the UK’s Catherine Cookson Fiction prize.
I really liked Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. The book is utterly absorbing: I was a captive by page 20. The plot is atmospheric, otherworldly, with lavish narrative and fascinating characters. I enjoyed both the modern day story as well as the 17th century one, but I liked Mariana’s subplot the best; there was more drama, romance, and more chemistry in Mariana’s life than in Julia’s.
I don’t want to explain what the book is about because it would spoil it for potential readers. I enjoyed the discovery journey very much and would like to preserve it for others as well. The underlying theme in the book is destiny but it’s also partly a ghost story.
I found the transitions between past and present very smooth, unlike the time travel in The Rose Garden, which I thought needed some polishing.