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.