Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew it was her house. And now that she's at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.
As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.
Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past...until she realizes Mariana's life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.
I loved the beginning of this book and was happily ensconced on my couch with blankets and pillows reading about a woman who has crossed paths with the same house three times, the third time in a most fortunate set of circumstances culminating in her becoming the owner. Julia was a great character, someone I would enjoy knowing and calling a friend. The people of her small village welcome her with open arms (after the local barkeep lets it be known that she is an illustrator of children's books because Julia being an artist had caused a bit of a ruckus and people were waiting to see how eccentric she would be). Her brother, a vicar, lives relatively nearby. She meets the handsome owner of a nearby manor and all is well. Until the visions begin.
Julia begins having visions in which she travels back to the 17th century and becomes Mariana, a young lady whose parents die of the plague and who is sent to live with her uncle and his family. Said Uncle is a religious zealot of the worst kind and his wife is little more than a body containing a dying soul as he has no kind words or thoughts for anybody. His sister-in-law also lives there and she is a friend to Mariana. Julia has no way to control her actions while she is in the past, what Mariana does, so does Julia in the present day which leads to worry and concern. Julia doesn't want people to see her wandering around like a loony, or worse accidentally walk off a cliff or something. (I must say, I loved this aspect of the story--about how she truly worried about how to keep herself safe while she is so out of it, and the considerations she had to take into account on behalf of this strange behavior.) Not sure what to do, she tells her brother about what is going on. Surprisingly, after a bit he believes her and helps her research reincarnation and tries to find out what he can about Mariana and others that lived with and around her.
It was at this point that I started to feel distanced from the story. I enjoyed it, but I felt that it became too heavily mired in the past. I wanted more present day happenings. But I stuck with it and pretty soon, the past and present started to wrap more closely together so that all I wanted to do was turn the pages to see how it would all end up. The closer the end came, the less likely it seemed like it could turn out happily for Mariana. I was nervous, I won't lie. And then. Then the past concluded and Julia (and I) knew what had happened. And I was content with the way things turned out with Mariana. It made sense. But the way the author chose to end the story with Julia??? I was not happy about that AT ALL!!
Caveat: Okay. Time for complete honestly...I peeked ahead at the ending when I was about 33% through the book. I don't do this often...maybe once out of every 30-40 books that I read but sometimes I want to know if I should stick with a book or not. The ending intrigued me. I wanted to know how Julia, who was in one place at 33% got to the place where she was at the end of the book. As I kept reading, I wondered when the journey to that particular end would start to happen. Answer? Well, I don't want to get into spoiler territory, but let me say that if I had not read ahead and had instead been blindsided with that ending I would have been BEYOND MAD!! Even knowing it was happening, the way it happened was still majorly unsettling. I still wonder what happened to one particular character who was left completely dangling out there and who is in for one heck of a surprise if he ever makes it back to town. The ending to this story absolutely killed it for me. I am undecided if I want to give the author another chance or not. The writing was great, but the trust is gone.
Susanna Kearsley's b-day is Jan. 17 (according to Google)
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I borrowed this book from my local public library.