Title: The Rose Garden
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Genre: Cross-genre fiction, time travel fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: I lost my only sister in the last days of November.
Goodreads blurb: When Eva’s film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina’s ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs.
But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived–and died–long before she herself was born.
Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.
Last year, I read Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, mainly because of how much Marg and Kelly raved about the author. It was amazing, and I determined to read everything she wrote. Then time got away from me, and in spite of picking up The Rose Garden on a shopping trip early this year, I didn’t make good on my goal.
A couple of months ago, I realized that the year had started to fly by in a daze of ARCs and review copies. I finally stood firm on my commitment to read more of my own books, and cut the number of review copies I was accepting way back – almost to zero. I’ve been able to read more of the books I have been dying to read, and I can tell you that it has been so much fun! And one of the benefits was finally making time to read The Rose Garden.
My sister asked me why I was enjoying it so much, and I told her that her writing reminded me of Diana Gabaldon’s, only minus the graphic sex. Kearsley and Gabaldon both have a knack for finding that perfect combination of history and romance, without tipping too far into either side. And while Gabaldon is much more detailed in her history, they are both adept at making me feel for the characters, which is crucial to take a book into the “I can’t put it down” realm.
Kearsley’s books – the two I’ve read, at least – have it all: beautiful writing, lush (but not too wordy) descriptions, characters I love, romance that sparks, and eras of history that I love to read about. Whether it’s Scotland or Cornwall, reading her books feels like traveling to the British Isles, not only through space, but through time. I will be reading Mariana, another of her books, very, very soon.