Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mariana, Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: 1994, Corgi
Category: General Fiction
Rating: 8/10

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!


Marg said...

I've been hearing mentions of this author all oover the place recently!

Marmee said...

Hey, Jennie --I used a bookmark, for heaven's sake! I mean, if I'd wanted to be rude, I would have folded over a page corner or left the book on its face, open at the page I was reading.
Besides, if you and your sis didn't get me started on new books, I'd just reread the old ones over and over and I'd be even more boring than I already am!
btw-- glad you liked them.

nath said...

Hey there :D after your review of The Shadowy Horses, I went to look for her books, but the only one I could find was Named of Dragons... will start it soon :D

nice review by the way :D

Mailyn said...

Is she a mystery or romance writer? I'm confused.

Jennie said...

Marg--You should try her out sometime. :)

Mama--I didn't really think it was rude, I just like to tease you. Especially when you're too feeble to fight back. ;) (Just kidding!! How's the poor ickle neck??)

And I bet you left it open face-down sometime while you were reading it. Didn't you? xxoo

Nath--Keep your eye out for TSH, it's my fave so far. I'm going to read Named of the Dragon soon too. :)

Mailyn--She's kind of hard to categorize. I think gothic romantic suspense is the best way to describe. Little love story, little ghostly/paranormal element, little mystery.

Mailyn said...

I see. I've been reading a lot of historical mysteries lately. If only I could review them. But I'm feeling lazy. LOL.

Rosario said...

Did you see she has a new one coming out? Not until March 08, but it sounds wonderful... a definite Kearsley this time, not another suspense novel like her last one (which i liked, BTW, even though it didn't give me the same tingly feeling her Kearsleys do). I entered it at RA already, even though all we have for now is title (The Winter Sea) and a blurb at Kearsley's site. Oh, and check out the site. The plot deals with ancestral memory this time, and she's got a freaky ancestral memory story of her own there, in the behind the scenes section.

Jennie said...

I did see The Winter Sea and I'm really excited about it! I just wish it was being published in the US. I'll have to order it from Canada, and to be honest I've never done that. Must be doable, though, right?

Rosario said...

Course it's doable! (says she who gets books all the way from the US to Uruguay *g*) And hey, if all else fails, there's Kristie and Cindy to ask for a favour.

Jennie said...

I was thinking that exact thing actually! I'm so spoiled by having everything available here. You must have all sorts of ways and means to get all the books you want. :)

Dee said...

FYI might want to know that Waterfront pictures has optioned Marianna as feature film. It is in the early stages of development. Details will be on her website as they unfold (

Jennie said...

Dee--I did actually see that on her website. I don't know anything about Waterfront, but I hope it is made available in the US. That's very exciting. ;)