Monday, October 3, 2011

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

"Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs.

The Rose Garden is a haunting exploration of love, family, the true meaning of home, and the ties that bind us together."

(from the publisher)

My thoughts:

If you are a fan of Susanna Kearsley's novels, then you already know what to expect in The Rose Garden... lyrical writing... vivid images of nature and the landscape...historical settings... characters that you come to know and really care about...time travel that changes seamlessly from one frame to the next...and a breathtaking and poignant ending. The Rose Garden is no exception.

Susanna Kearsley has a very distinctive voice and her "comforting" stories of history and romantic suspense transport me to another time and place. I actually feel a bit out of sorts when I finish Kearsley's novels as I get so wrapped up in another world that I find it jarring to finish the book and realize the journey with the characters is over! That speaks volumes for the magic of her writing.

The Rose Garden introduces us to Eva Ward, a young woman who finds herself alone in the world after the death of her sister. She travels to Cornwall to Trelowarth, an old house where she and her family spent many happy summers as children. Eva believes that this would be the perfect resting place for her sister's ashes as they had such fond memories in Cornwall. She is welcomed by the Halletts, her long-time friends and the family which lives in Trelowarth, and they encourage her to stay for a while to help her get through this difficult time. Feeling stressed and grieved, Eva accepts their invitation and settles into life at Trelowarth. It is not long, however, before strange things begin to happen to Eva that have her questioning her sanity. Who are the voices she is hearing as she is sleeping in her room? Why is the landscape changing as she is walking in the woods?

Eva is experiencing time travel, and soon finds herself back in the 1700's at Trelowarth where two brothers, Mark and Daniel Butler, are involved in mysterious activites. Both smugglers and Jacobite supporters, Eva becomes more and more involved in their intrigue (and falls in love) as she travels back and forth in time. The time travel elements and the challenges Eva faces coming back and forth in time are handled well, but I do wish that the relationship between Eva and her love interest had a bit more spice. I like relationships that have depth and chemistry, and this didn't quite get off the ground until the very end. It was well worth hanging in there for things to develop, though.

Eva has many questions and must confront several issues: how is this happening to her? Can she change the course of history (or the course of someone's life) with her knowledge of the past? Will the present or the past be the place that will bring her a sense of belonging? I thoroughly enjoyed Eva's journey all the way to the stunning conclusion.

"Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough."

***Thank you to Susanna Kearsley and Sourcebooks for sending me a copy for review.****

4.5/5 stars

Title: The Rose Garden
Author: Susanna Kearsley
441 pages
genre: historical romantic suspense


Marg said...

Yay! I am always glad to see good reviews of Kearsley, and yes, the ending in this one was definitely stunning!

Joanne said...

Hi Marg -- I'm so bummed as I think I've read all of her books now! Looks like I have to start on rereads while we wait for the companion to The Winter Sea (that one is still my fav!) Thanks for stopping by!

Staci said...

I'm so excited that I have a copy of this one. I loved your enthusiastic review and I think you really nailed the reason why so many of us love her books!

Joanne said...

Great hearing from you, Staci! I hope you enjoy The Rose Garden and always glad to hear from Kearsley fans. :)

Mystica said...

This sounds such a good book.

Harvee said...

I like gardens, roses, Cornwall, and historical mysteries. Sounds like a very good book!

Danielle said...

I have been putting off Kearsley's latest book to give myself the present of a dependably delectable Christmas holiday treat, but enticing reviews like yours are making the wait very hard!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I'm looking forward to reading this, I know what you mean about how her books are comforting. I finished the Whispering Horses last week and really liked it, even though there was no time travel in it. But, I got into the characters and the setting (wish I'd gone to that area when I was in Scotland). I really want to read Mariana now, remembering how you brought it with you to have her sign it!

Joanne said...

Mystica and Harvee-- Highly recommend Kearsley's books! A new favorite.

Danielle -- I'd hate to deprive you of your Christmas treat! ;) By all means, tuck it away and curl up with it on a cold winter's night!

Julie -- Yes, I enjoyed the Shadowy Horses, too with the ghost of the Roman soldier. Mariana was my first Kearsley book and is up there with The Winter Sea as a fav.

Melissa @ Confessions of an Avid Reader said...

I'm not sure how I didn't see this review earlier.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the novel, Joanne. Being a huge Kearsley fan myself, I'm not sure why this one didn't do it for me, especially when everyone else seems to love it. Oh well.

Joanne said...

Hi, Melissa -- Good to hear from you. Yes, I remember your review expressing that you were not quite wowed by this one; I think that it's hard sometimes to stand up to being compared to The Winter Sea or Mariana -- tough competition. I totally agree that it didn't knock The Winter Sea and Mariana off the pedestal for me either, but the ending of this one was so good! Can't wait to start hearing about what she has in store for us in the future. :)

Anjuli said...

This sounds like a great read- will look out for it.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I've been wanting to read Susanna Kearsley and this one sounds so good.
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