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Mariana Paperback – 2 Mar 2009
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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 Crofton 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.
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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.
I did like iain but because he was off limits (due to vivian) I ignored his character somewhat so when the ending was revealed I didnt feel that connected to him. Also what happens when Geoff gets back from France "sorry got it wrong ends up your best mate is the reincarnation of my dead lover, not you..." I don't know though I liked the characters I didn't like this book as much as Kearsleys others.
I gave this book a 4 as though the ending wasn't to my taste it was a good book and took up a day, also Kearsleys previous books have been fantastic
Neither heroine - the eponymous seventeenth century Mariana or her twentieth century counterpart Julia - are well-rounded enough to be engaging. As with all the characters, they are cliché ridden and thinly drawn. The twentieth century love story - with its silly twist that isn't - is pure Mills & Boon, and the time slip sections are clumsily written.
Some pretty descriptions of the rural landscape and the village where Julia/Mariana live (which in the twentieth century at least is over-friendly to the point of creepy - best friends are made within hours, it seems), but this is, overall, an anodyne tale with a deeply unsatisfying ending. My first novel by the author, and sadly my last.
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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