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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 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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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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on 22 June 2013
Very enjoyable story. Had already sussed the ending out but still enjoyed piecing all the relevant bits together. If anything, I thought the story was too short and would have liked the main characters, Mariana and Richard especially to have had more time together. Altogether a nice read!
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on 17 July 2015
Oh dear. Read this after Amazon recommended it following a reading of Pamela Hartshorne. It is dripping with cliches, square jawed toffs from the manor in front of whom the heroine quite literally "swoons" on first meeting (pass the bucket), yeah sure, there was a "connection" or something from the past. Whatever, it was pure mills and boon. Then we have the handsome noble savage (albeit an educated savage, obviously) winsome heroine who makes friends in a new village within about three seconds. The first time we timeslip it's clumsily done, but I let it go. But the second time was also clumsy and almost "oh, better do a timeslip here" at which point I wanted to throw the book across the room but didn't, because I always try to finish a book I've started. I did finish, but I won't be starting another book by this author. Ever.
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on 3 January 2015
There are not enough stars to give to this book. It was responsible for two very late nights and now I feel bereft!
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on 11 January 2015
I've always loved stories in which the past impinges on the present, and vice versa, since first reading Barbara Erskine, and then moving on to the joys of Diana Gabaldon. All too often, authors who try to write similar novels disappoint - either by poor writing, or poor research or, unfortunately, both! There are no problems like that with this excellent book by Susanna Kearsley. It's a wonderful read with a satisfying and unexpected ending. Although I was rather amused by the speed in which the heroine, Julia, is able to buy a house! It usually takes three months at the very least rather than three weeks! Although it could be the magic at work... The book also reads a little like a Mary Stewart. If you like any of the authors I've mentioned, you'll love this one.
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on 21 July 2013
Another fantastic read. I'm eating up all this author writes. Love how neatly plotted her books are and she does my sort of hero - nothing showy, just deeply, darkly gorgeous!
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on 16 November 2016
Devoured! I loved this book and I'm sure I'll re-visit sometime in the future. ;o) The writing style and plot are sublime. This love story captures the essence of twin flames wonderfully. I was totally gripped from beginning to end. Out of the three books I have read so far by Susanna, this is my favourite. The Rose Garden came in at a close second. I will never tire of this author's understanding of deep soul connections, which are subjects that I resonate with and are close to my own heart ~ fabulous read.
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