Sunday, October 02, 2011
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2011
Paperback, 448 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense
First Line: I lost my only sister in the last days of November.
A devastated Eva Ward is given her sister's ashes by Katrina's husband, Bill, with the proviso that Eva take them to the place where his wife was happiest. Momentarily confused, Eva suddenly remembers Trelowarth House, a centuries-old manor house high on a hill overlooking the sea in Cornwall. She and her sister had been happy visiting there as children, and Katrina's first love lived there still.
Welcomed to Trelowarth, Eva decides to spend the summer there, intending to find a local cottage to rent in the autumn, but almost immediately she finds herself seeing paths where none had existed and hearing voices in the adjacent room when no one is there. When she actually finds herself in Trelowarth House in 1715 and meeting its owner, Daniel Butler, Eva has to admit that these aren't simple hallucinations. Daniel, a successful smuggler, is secretly planning to join in a rebellion against the newly crowned King George. As he and Eva try to come to terms with Eva's time traveling, they fall in love. Eva has a decision to make: in which time does she truly belong?
For me, Susanna Kearsley is the queen of romantic suspense. Her Cornish setting is wonderful and the perfect backdrop to both time periods. Twenty-first-century and eighteenth-century secondary characters add richness to the story, and have the added bonus of helping to tug the reader in both directions. When I was reading a modern segment, I wondered what was happening to the characters in the eighteenth century, and when I was back in their time, I wondered about the modern characters. Every chapter was engrossing.
In some books featuring time travel, one period always seems to be stronger and more interesting than the other, but not in Kearsley's books. She knows how to keep a reader's interest throughout her story. I'm not known to read many novels in which a strong element of romance is present because too many writers think they have to include steamy sex scenes to convey how strongly the characters are in love. Kearsley knows how to convey strong emotions and physicality without having anything throb or glisten or heave.
If you're in the mood for a story with a strong sense of place, a cast of wonderful characters, a plot with surprises, time travel and romance, I have just one piece of advice: Seek out The Rose Garden, and when you're done reading it, seek out the rest of Susanna Kearsley's novels.