Friday, November 27, 2009

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana
Author: Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 978-0-7490-0706-5, Allison and Busby, 2009
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: B

First Line: I first saw the house in the summer of my fifth birthday.

I've discovered over the years that some houses have the power of speech. When I first moved to Phoenix, I walked to work every morning and passed a slightly down-at-heels 1950s ranch house. Nothing about it would draw anyone's attention, but for some reason each time I walked by, I got gooseflesh-- and the feeling that the house was sad. A year later I happened to be watching the evening news and found out that police had shut down a house of prostitution specializing in S&M... in that same sad little ranch house.

At the age of five Julia Beckett had a house speak to her, and twenty-five years later she finds the house once again. Flush with an inheritance from an aunt, Julia buys Greywethers, a sixteenth-century farmhouse in Wiltshire. She moves in and finds the villagers very friendly and helpful-- so much so that she finds it difficult to get to work illustrating a book of fairy tales. Bit by bit, Julia learns the rudimentary history of Greywethers and the young woman, Mariana, who lived there three hundred years ago. It seems that Mariana has been waiting for her.

I've read two books recently that I would label romantic suspense. It's a genre that I seldom touch because the romance usually takes precedence over everything else in the story. That's definitely not the case here. Mariana is a fun read. Julia is an engaging character living in a fascinating house. Both time lines-- Julia's modern day time and Mariana's-- grabbed my attention equally. Normally one time line tends to be stronger than the other, but Kearsley avoids that completely, and the plot is not formulaic; it had more than one surprise for me.

If you're in the mood for a fast, entertaining read that has a fascinating old house, a mystery that spans the centuries, and a light touch of romance, Mariana could be just the book for you.

[Source: purchased at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore.]


  1. I know exactly what you mean about some houses. When we moved to Auburn, I looked at one house that gave me the creeps when I walked in the front door, so I turned right around and left. I think I'd like this book!

  2. And I thought I was the only one houses spoke to! Incidentally your lady making the pie in the Thanksgiving picture reminds me so much of my grandmother it makes me catch my breath every time I see it.

  3. I think that Susanna Kearsley is my favourite author discovery of the year. Loved Sophia's Secret and liked this one a lot!

  4. Kathy-- I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets strange vibes from houses!

    Barbara-- I know what you mean about my Thanksgiving art. She reminds me of my great-grandmother, and that's the main reason why I chose to use it!

    Marg-- Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to track down Kearsley's other books!

  5. This review was fabulous; I just added this book to my own TBR list and can't wait to get to it! I know what you mean about houses giving off vibes; I can sometimes tell if a house has some history just by the feeling I get when walking into it!

  6. I like a good romantic suspense, so I'm adding this to my list. Great review!

  7. BBR-- I'm glad I'm not the only person that happens to!

    Stacy-- Thank you!


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