Mariana // by Susanna Kearsley

//published 2012//

So as I’ve mentioned, I’ve joined two different traveling book clubs via Litsy, wherein members each choose a book of their own that they read and make notes in, then every month everyone sends the book they have in their possession to the next person, until you get your own book back.  Everyone along the way adds to the notes and highlighting, so when your book returns to you, it’s full of the thoughts of the others who read it.

Sometimes this means that I end up reading book I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up – hence Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, a romance that uses a plot device that I generally avoid at all costs.

Mariana centers on Julia, an illustrator of children’s books (how fun would that be?!).  When she falls in love with a house in the countryside, she is able to move there since her location is pretty flexible.  It’s not just any house – it’s a house Julia saw as a child and loved then, a house with which she feels a strange, intense connection.  The village near the house is very small, and Julia is soon drawn into the community.  However, she soon begins experiencing strange dreams/moments/visions about another woman who lived in this very same house back in the 17th century, and it seems that Julia’s life is entwined with this life from the past.

Normally I avoid any stories that hint at time traveling or a person in the present being a person from the past, or any of those types of weird semi-supernatural plot devices, but Mariana was such a delightfully written story that I thoroughly embraced everything.  Julia herself is warm and likable.  I absolutely adored her relationship with her brother, and loved that she and brother are close with their parents, too.  Her brother is a minister, and it was lovely to have a religious person who wasn’t portrayed as a hypocritical, power-grubbing creep (although we did get one of those from the past timeline).  While I still didn’t enjoy the whole supernatural connection between Julia and Mariana, it was overall handled deftly in a way that, while I couldn’t exactly believe it, I could at least accept and roll with it.

In the end, 4*.  The ending felt quite rushed, and while I liked the way the romance concluded, it seemed a little hard on the superfluous dude – it would have been nice to have some more conclusions drawn there, and more time with Julia and her hero.  Still, a book that I enjoyed, and one that has led me to put a few of Kearsley’s other titles on the TBR.