By: Susanna Kearsley
Format/Source: Paperback; was a birthday gift
The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.
As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.
Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past…until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.
I read this book years ago when it was given to me as a birthday gift. It was my first Susanna Kearsley novel, but I believe I didn’t review it at the time because I was in grad school and travelling back and forth between cities. I decided to revisit it recently as I read a number of her books that were sitting on my TBR queue last year 🙂 The following contains spoilers (as I will be talking a lot about my first time reading this book & the ending)!
Okay, I’m going to start this post off with a recap of my thoughts the first time I read it (because despite not reviewing it, I do remember what stayed with me): I liked the book enough but I thought the ending was really strange, perhaps even upsetting, because of the bait-and-switch. I remember thinking how random it was, how there was no lead up to suspect that he would’ve been Richard’s reincarnation or whatever you want to call it, not to mention I thought a) Iain was in the background for most of the book, b) Julia didn’t seem so interested in him in that way, and c) what was the point of building up Julia and Geoff’s relationship? Not to mention Geoff’s direct connection to the de Mornay family? The payoff just wasn’t satisfying.
So naturally in re-reading this book, I’ve been paying close attention to Iain, Julia and Iain, and just the story in general to see if there were any hints that would explain the ending a bit better. And I have to say, the re-read sort of helped; despite of Geoff’s connection to the family, it was clear that whatever was going on between him and Julia was a red herring. It occurred to me as I was re-reading that usually in Susanna Kearsley’s books, the first guy the main character comes across is usually the love interest, and in this case Iain Sumner was the first person Julia encountered. I also noticed how usually after one of Julia’s experiences, she usually encounters Iain; this time around I did find their interaction a lot more interesting, especially the whole him sneaking up on her and surprising her (her trying to get back at him for that was amusing). But it’s still strange that despite of everything he did for her, he seemed pretty much in the background, laying low to an nth degree, which was probably why the ending surprised me the way it did the first time. And while it ended rather nice, it could’ve been longer, but anyway 😛
It was nice to revisit this book too because I totally forgot what the story was about. I remembered the storyline set in the present, but I totally forgot the storyline set in the seventeenth century and with Mariana Farr. There’s of course the paranormal slant, if you will, with the time slip and the concept of reincarnation, but otherwise the time slip episodes that Julia experiences are rather subtle. They happen, but we only get bits and pieces of what happens to Mariana over the course of her time in the area. In a way that’s good because you get to the big moments faster 😛 On the other hand, the build-up isn’t quite as gradual and some of the emotional points don’t always quite hit their marks because you’re missing a few links. But gah, I forgot how harrowing her situation was with her Puritan uncle and him and Richard de Mornay being at odds and everything.
On a random note: I need to read some interviews by the author to see if there’s any note about it, but I noticed all of her books have a Scottish connection somehow (this time being Iain) 😉
Overall it was nice to revisit Mariana. In a way, I’ve come to appreciate the storytelling a lot more this time, having read a number of her other books since. The time slip element wasn’t as weird as it was the first time I read it. But other than that, it’s as solid a story as before with a lovely cast of characters with both the past and the present being really interesting. Perhaps not the very first Susanna Kearsley novel I’d recommend for first time readers, but I’d definitely recommend it. I initially gave this book 3 stars on GoodReads but after re-reading it, it’s a 4 now 🙂