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4.5 out of 5 stars
Mariana
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2009
In Mariana, Julia Beckett moves from London to Greywethers, a house in the country that has seemingly called out to her for years. She begins having "flashbacks" of sorts, to when she was Mariana Farr, a young woman living during the Restoration. Not only does Julia live the life of her predecessor, she actually is Mariana, feeling her feelings and thinking her thoughts.

This is the second Susanna Kearsley novel I've read (after Sophia's Secret, which is fantastic, too), and let me just say that she's won herself another fan. The world of the late 17th century is portrayed in painstaking detail, and Kearsley's modern-day world is just as meticulously described. I've said this about other split-time novels, but it so often happens that books like this one sacrifice the modern-day narrative for that which takes place in the past; not so with this book. Mariana sweeps you off your feet from the very first page.

What I also like about Susanna Kearsley's books is that her endings are never strictly "happy," per se (sort of a weird way of thinking, I know), but there's always the potential for happiness. This sort of ambiguity works, in a strange way; you never know what, exactly, to expect. I can't wait to read more of Kearsley's novels; I've recently tracked down used copies of Named of the Dragon, The Shadowy Horses, and Seasons of Storms. It's too bad that Kearsley's novels aren't more widely available; she's a great writer who knows how to tell a good story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
It is no wonder that this book won the 1993 Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize! It is a beautifully written book, and those who love the books of Anya Seton, Barbara Erskine, Victoria Holt, and Catherine Cookson will love reading "Mariana". It is, without a doubt, a great read that is sure to captivate the reader.

The book takes the main character, Julia Beckett, to a past life, after she purchases a beautiful old sixteenth century house named Greywethers. She has loved the house and been drawn to it ever since she was a young child. Once she moves in, however, life as she knew it ends, and life as Mariana, one half of a pair of star crossed lovers, begins.

Mariana lived in the seventeenth century. She and her beloved, Richard de Mornay, the lord of Crofton Hall Manor, were never to live happily ever after, as their life together came to an abrupt end. Yet, they were to be reunited, as his dying words prophesied.

It awaited Julia to make things come full circle. As Julia undergoes a past life regression and relives portions of Mariana's life, she ultimately realizes that the past is often found in the present. More important, what once went wrong in the past, may be made right in the present.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2003
Breathtaking account of a romantic journey one woman faces.
Based on intuition and a natural curiosity, she discovers an amazing lifetime that she lived centuries prior, and manages to incorporate this past into her present.
Reliving her past in a current time frame, she is reunited with a man she adores, and searches for his existence in present day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2010
This book was donated to a charity morning I was helping to organise or I might never have come across Susanna Kearsley. I decided to buy the book for myself and found it an excellent read BUT like one of your other reviewers I was disappointed with the ending. I don't like the predictable and so I am always pleased when an ending surprises but this one just didn't work for me. I was taken aback by Iain's revelation and even more by her sudden switch of affections. I can think of other endings including one where she realises that the interpretation is wrong and so her search has to continue - perhaps for a few more centuries. But I shall now explore this author especially as so many other reviewers have praised her other works.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2009
It is said that the first page of any book is a tell tale sign as to how the rest of the book will flow. From its beginning 'Mariana' sweeps you up into an incredable journey of its herorine Julia Beckett. Susanna Kearsley manages to create haunting scenes that are so easily imagined that real life as it should when reading a book ceases to exist.
The story follows Julia's move from London to a small countryside village to live in a house that she seems destined to keep finding. Surrounded by strangers and ghosts Julia will uncover an impossible love affair that will directly affect her own life. This is a definate must for Barbara Erskine fans and while I haven't read anything else by Susanna Kearsley that is about to change.
'Mariana' is an engaging novel of haunting passions that will stay tumbling through your mind long after you finish the last page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 March 2012
From the moment Julia Beckett first sees Greywethers as a five-year-old, she knows there's something special about the lonely farmhouse, but it's not until she's an adult and a successful illustrator of children's books that she gets the chance to buy it. As she settles into her new home, Julia gets to know her new neighbours, including the gardener Iain Sumner, Geoffrey de Mornay, the owner of nearby Crofton Hall (which is said to be haunted), and Freda Hutherson, who somehow seems to know a lot about Julia without being told.

Soon Julia's life becomes mysteriously linked with the life of Mariana Farr, a young woman who lived at Greywethers with her uncle in the 17th century. As Julia spends more and more time in the 1600s she grows increasingly obsessed with Mariana's story and starts finding it difficult to keep the past separate from the present.

There are some books that feel like they could almost have been written specifically for me and Mariana is one of them - it had all the things I love in a book and I really have nothing negative to say about it. The time period for the historical sections is one that I always find interesting to read about (the Restoration era, the plague and the aftermath of the English Civil War), the characters are easy to like and the relationships between them feel believable, and I also loved the atmosphere - although this is not actually a ghost story, it does have quite a ghostly, haunting feel.

Novels with dual time frames don't often work for me as I usually find myself enjoying the historical storyline more than the modern day one. That was not a problem with this book because the events that took place in the two time periods were very closely connected and the transitions between the two were so smooth I hardly noticed when one changed to the other. The way Julia moves between the centuries really felt convincing.

The ending was unexpected and really surprised me because I certainly hadn't guessed what was going to happen. It was maybe a bit abrupt and left a few things unresolved, but I liked it. Susanna Kearsley's writing reminds me of two other authors whose novels I love - Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. Having enjoyed this one and The Rose Garden so much I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2011
Along with the other reviewers that have given it 4 stars, I too thought the ending was abrupt.

I keep on wondering, what would have happened when Geoff came back from France? Also, what was his phone call going to be about? Was it important? Not a predictable ending I must admit, but I would have liked her to have had more interaction with Iain. I would also have liked to know more about Iain's experiences. I think the book could have done with an epilogue to tie up the ending more neatly.

Lovely book but the ending lets it down slightly.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I was so pleased to find this book. I thoroughly enjoyed The Shadowy Horses, but I thought that this was even better. It was beautifully descriptive and atmospheric, and the time travel elements were woven skilfully into the story. Evocative and moving, this is one of the best books I have read this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2014
I first read this book many years ago when I was in a book club and now have it on my kindle. It's a can't put down one and when you think you've discovered some thing you probably haven't. I went through all kinds of emotions and still do in parts. My favorite character I think is Ian. If you like this you will definitely like the rose garden for the twists and turns but they are not complicated because of this. They are well written and after reading the shadowy horses I had to visit Eyemouth to see the tapestry, it's all there. Very well researched. Read them all !
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on 2 April 2012
Absolutely loved this book! Once started it is hard to put down, and is pure escapism from everyday life.
It has wonderfully drawn characters and a charmingly cosy English village setting that is rather seductive. You almost feel as though you're a part of the local neighbourhood yourself and could easily imagine yourself popping in for a friendly chat at the Red Lion.
The premise of reincarnation was fascinating, and I thought the book was very atmospheric with an air of mystery and haunting.
What I felt was particularly well done was that the author paints both times frames equally well, such that I didn't have a preference for one over the other (quite often in dual-frame stories I tend to prefer the historic setting).
Special mention has to be given to Julia's brother Tom, who I personally felt stole almost every scene that he was in, and of course it was hard not to hold a tender spot for the brooding and slightly mischievous Sir Richard De Mornay.The scene in the church towards the end of the story with Richard and Mariana was particularly moving and even had tears pricking at the eyes.
I loved the twist at the end (I must say that I did have my suspicions throughout), and whilst perhaps it would have been nice to have had a little more elaboration on this, overall I think the ending felt complete, as if we had reached full circle and nothing more had to be said.
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