Monday, April 09, 2012

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley


Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Copyright: 1994/2012
2012 Release by Sourcebooks Landmark - Fiction with historical and paranormal elements
364 pages

Reason for Reading: I've desired to read more by Susanna Kearsley since I read The Winter Sea.

Brief description:

Julia Beckett has believed that the old stone house in the West Country was destined to be her home since she first saw it through the car window as a small girl. Years later, she finds out the house is on the market, buys it and moves from her London home, where she works as an illustrator of children's books. But, strange things are happening in the ancient stone home. Julia keeps finding herself thrown back in time, experiencing history through the eyes of Mariana Farr, a young lady who lived in the house during the 16th century and fell in love with the local landowner, Richard deMornay.

What became of Mariana and Richard? Will Julia survive her jaunts back into the mind and heart of Mariana or does she risk becoming trapped in the past? In the present day, will Julia fall in love or is she locked in a dead-end relationship?

What I loved about Mariana:

Gosh. I loved everything about this book -- the setting, the characters, the plot, the dialogue, the denouement. You know how some books just grab you by the hair and don't let go until you reach their extremely satisfying conclusion? That was Mariana, for me. It has that element of "time travel" that I love (although it's not really time travel, but you'll have to read it to find out exactly what the deal is), a hint of romance without anything gushy, a nice dollop of history, and it's stunningly believable for a book with a premise in which a heroine keeps getting yanked back in time.

What I disliked about Mariana:

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Recommendation:

5/5 - Highly recommended. Smooth, believable transitions between the 16th century and present-day England, excellent dialogue, nicely rounded characters, a solid plot and satisfying denouement made this book a perfect escape for this reader.

I have two more Susanna Kearsley books to read - one on my shelves and the other in ebook format. It will be interesting to find out whether I feel the same about all of her books.

Cover thoughts:

I'm going to describe my thoughts about the cover image shown above, although I actually have two copies of Mariana, thanks to the fact that I put it on my wish list at Paperback Swap the moment I closed The Winter Sea and I completely forgot it was on my wish list when Sourcebooks offered it for review. I tried to halt the ARC when I found out a copy was coming from PBS, but it was too late. The two copies arrived almost simultaneously.

At any rate, when Julia moves into her house, she's informed that there used to be a ghost that periodically showed up in the garden and she was known as the "Lady in Green". Although the ghost ceased to make appearances something on the order of 30 years before Julia's arrival, that ghost does become important to the plot, so it's very fitting that the cover shows a woman wrapped in a green shawl, although I can't say I'm in love with the bare shoulder. But, come to think of it, there is a moment when a woman in the book is wrapped in nothing but a shawl. There is also a man on a horse who becomes a key character, so the distant figure of the man on horseback is similarly apropos. I like the look and I think it fits the story well!

Some side remarks:

While this book is not strictly "historical", there are enough historical elements to satisfy fans of that genre. It also contains a paranormal element, but it is completely fitting and neither weird, otherworldly or forced. Mariana, it must be remembered, was published long before the paranormal craze.

Since we're talking about green, how about a lizard pic?

Nicely camouflaged, isn't he? This is a tiny fellow, maybe 2" long in the body. He's not used to me, yet. The anole lizards actually can become quite relaxed after being photographed multiple times, I've found. This one kept running away, but he's young.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

18 comments:

  1. I know that Mariana is a lot of readers favourites. I liked it a lot, but it doesn't quite live up to The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden or The Shadowy Horses for me.

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    1. I thought about you while I was writing this review, Marg! It occurred to me that since Mariana is not your favorite and I loved it every bit as much as The Winter Sea, chances are good that I'm going to love the next two, also. Your opinion bodes well for future reading enjoyment. :)

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  2. I just requested that my local library purchase this book since they don't have it! Thanks for the review!

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    1. Andrea,

      Excellent! I hope you love it as much as I did! :)

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  3. Susanna Kearsley is an author that's been on my list for quite a while. Must read one of her books this year! This one sounds good.

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    1. Kay,

      Oh, yes, you must. I think her books are wonderful!

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  4. I love the sound of this book, and I am intrigued by the fact that this book has time travel elements, but is not a book about time travel. It sounds so good that I am going to be looking for it. Thanks for the wonderful review, and for sharing the picture of that very shy little camouflaged lizard!

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    1. Zibilee,

      I actually didn't read the blurb because I like to be surprised, so I had no idea what was coming and I was very, very pleased with the way she tossed Julia back in time. It's similar to something else I've read but I thought it was handled much better -- surprisingly believable, really. I do hope you'll give this one a try. And, thank you! I'm glad you like my lizard! They are so cute!!

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  5. I really enjoy Susanna Kearsley. I am glad you enjoyed this one! It is one of my favourites.

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    1. Kelly,

      I think we talked about Susanna Kearsley, at some point, and agreed we felt the same way. Cool that this is one of your favorites. I actually can no longer quite remember what The Winter Sea was about, just how much I loved it. Hopefully, this one will stick with me longer. I absolutely loved it.

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  6. I don't tend to read a lot of paranormal stories, but this sounds like it is a blend of several different styles and genres, which makes it interesting. I am really tempted to give this one a try.

    I did check out the author and found that on Amazon.co.uk, the cover is completely different to the one you show. I think that yours is the better of the two, but I have included the link, so that you can take a look and see what you think.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mariana-Susanna-Kearsley/dp/0749007060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334180115&sr=8-1

    Interesting post and a very nice review.

    Yvonne

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    1. Yep, that's the cover of the copy I got from Paperback Swap. I *always* love a good red dress cover, but I think the cover with the green shawl fits the story better.

      I hope you do read it, Yvonne. Obviously, I loved the book, so Mariana's a title I'm excited about and hope a lot of people will read. Thanks for the nice comments!

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  7. So thrilled to hear you loved Mariana as I also have it to review. Unlike you, I did not crave more after The Winter Sea, so I'm hoping Mariana stirs up more passion in my heart (so to speak) than my attempt at the other.

    Loved your pictures of London. Wouldn't have eaten the eggplant thing, but the cheese melted all over the top did look divine! :) Someday, I'll eat my vegetables with joy...

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    1. Bellezza,

      We have a lot of interesting crossover going on. I'm reading Butterfly's Child and have already reviewed The Land of Decoration, also.

      I hope you do enjoy Mariana more than you did The Winter Sea, but it's very possible Kearsley's just not the author for you. I get really, really gushy about her books! I sent The Winter Sea to a friend and she wasn't thrilled, unfortunately.

      Thank you! I didn't like eggplant till Japan. The little Asian eggplants are so much better than our giant eggplants. I also had a roasted eggplant, rice and lentil salad that husband has been trying to reproduce (no luck, yet). The eggplant in both was hard to detect. I wonder if they used the smaller kind. They don't have a strong flavor at all. Anyway . . . I'm a veggie lover. Husband had sausage and mash. He always goes for the traditional meat dishes; I go for the vegetarian option, if I can find one. :)

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  8. Anonymous6:06 AM

    Oh, I'll be adding this book to my TBR right now! Thanks for the lovely review! Stephanie @ www.stephanieswrittenword.com

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    1. Wahoo! I hope you love it, Stephanie!!

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  9. I absolutely love the cover! I just read The Winter Sea recently and while I didn't LOVE it, I really enjoyed it and would check out more of her books. Awesome lizard picture!

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    1. It's a pretty awesome cover. I was crazy about The Winter Sea but it doesn't seem to be a top favorite among regular Kearsley readers. I liked Mariana even better. Thanks! Love those lizards. :)

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