Each time I read Susanna Kearsley's writing, I become a bigger fan. I have read four of her novels now, and you can be sure I'll be reading more. Mariana is my latest, and I loved it just as much as The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden and The Firebird. From the book jacket: "Julia Beckett believes in destiny. When she moves into Greywethers, a beautiful sixteenth-century farmhouse, she suspects that more than coincidence has brought her there. The locals are warm and welcoming, especially the eligible squire of Grafton Hall, yet beneath the ordinariness, Julia senses a haunting sadness about her new home. Then she learns of Mariana, a beautiful young woman who lived there three hundred years ago. It seems history has been waiting for Julia..."
Yes, once again Kearsley has written a story that draws you in right from the very first page, involving the reader in the community and character's lives. I wanted to live in Wiltshire. I wanted to know Julia and her brother Tom, Vivien the local pub owner and Iain the Scottish gardener. I could clearly picture the village and its inhabitants and just wanted to join them for a pint and a chat at the Red Lion pub! Kearsley has a way of bringing a story and setting to life that it seems 100% real. Her characters are so well developed, the plot well thought out and the twist at the end was both delightful and bittersweet at the same time. Julia's time travel back to the seventeenth century to explore the life of Mariana Farr is seamlessly woven into her current daily life in the English countryside. It is very easy to see why Mariana won the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. This book has it all- romance, mystery, great characterization and good plot, wonderful description and an unexpected ending. Bravo!
How many times do you finish a book and say to yourself- "That's a keeper" or "I want to read it all over again"? I found myself immediately going back and re-reading some sections, and although this copy belongs to the library, I'll be keeping an eye out for a copy for my own shelves. Yes, I am a BIG Kearsley fan.
"I have always been a reader. I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Books are for me, it must be said, the most important thing."
~ Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale