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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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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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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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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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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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on 12 March 2016
I was really looking forward to this; a time slip tale with ghostly goings on and a beautiful old house. Right up my street. But oh, what a disappointment this was. The characters are one dimensional and I couldn't bring myself to care about them either way, although I did have a vague dislike for the predictably handsome, square-jawed lord of the manor who shows how 'ordinary' he is by wearing his top button undone. While talking about being well-off. Sigh.

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.
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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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on 25 April 2009
Though I did enjoy this book, I have to admit I found the end a bit rushed, i was left going 'wait that's it?' Like sophia's secret this book is split between two time periods and the author makes it work but I think the author wanted to add a twist so much that it was unnatural.


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.

END SPOILER---------

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
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on 24 June 2010
I loved this time travel story when I read this years ago. The new cover is a little desceptive in showing the reader that the books is set mainly in the 17th century, but the story is undoubtedly one of my favourites. The heroine stays with you long after you finish reading the last page. The details are rich and sweep you away so that you feel a part of both worlds.
If you like time-slip novels, do yourself a favour and read this book.
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on 16 May 2009
I really enjoyed this book. At first I thought it would belong to my 'trash' list of books, but I was soon proved otherwise. It was well written, which is always an important factor to me. A great 'escapist' story from modern day living. The subject of reincarnation was fascinating. I can strongly recommend this book.
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