Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Paperback, 478 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Allison & Busby (first published April 15th 2011)

Primary language: English
Original title: The Rose Garden
Historical Fiction/ Romance
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.
Kristine's Review
  This is the fourth book by Susanna Kearsley that I have read. Terri and I came across her books during one of our trips to the book store when searching for different books and authors. We didn't have anything in mind and we were randomly searching the rows of books for something that caught our eye and interest. I can't remember who, but one of us picked up one of her books, read the back, and thought it sounded interesting. We decided to give it a try. After both enjoying it, we were both excited that we had found a new author to enjoy. After reading Mariana, Every Secret Thing and The Winter Sea I decided to read The Rose Garden which is her latest release. I wasn't disappointed.

  Let me start off by saying that this is a book about time travel. It is not for someone lacking imagination. It ever so slightly reminded me of the Outlander series with a hint of The Time Traveler's Wife but in a more condensed and less detailed way. Eva finds herself slipping back to the 18th century where she finds Daniel and falls in love. Daniel is a Jacobite with strong loyalties to his kinsman. This is where it is similar in a way to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Unfortunately, I found that Kearsley's characters and story lacked the amount of chemistry and adventure of Gabaldon's. I was drawn to characters and their unique hardships but was hoping for more. Having read a few books about the Jacobite period and the uprising I was able to understand the story taking place in the 18th century but someone who has not may find it a little confusing. The details of that period were better written in her book The Winter Sea which is probably my favorite book of hers. I would suggest reading that one first.

  Having said all that, I did really enjoy the book. It was a quick and easy book to get through. I finished it in a day and a half. The complications of traveling back and forth through time were interesting to say the least. Anyone who likes a good love story with a little bit of historical value to it would really enjoy this book. Susanna Kearsley is a "new to me" author who's books I'm happy to have discovered.
Kristine's rating

Terri's Review

I read this some time ago so I figured I would let Kristine post her review when it was fresh in her mind and I would add my two cents in.  As she mentioned, this author was a surprise find of ours when we first discovered the book Mariana while browsing.  Upon reading it, I knew I wanted to read her other books.  I too have read four of her books (in order of preference) Winter Sea, Mariana, The Rose Garden and Shadowy Horses.  The book Every Secret thing is sitting on my to be read shelf at the moment.  Until a few moments ago, I thought these were all of Kearsley's novels however research has turned up some more titles.

Unlike Kristine, I have not read any of the Outlander series so I cannot draw upon any comparisons.  What I can say is that I really got lost in this book as I have most of the others.   I really enjoy when a book has a plot set in the present day as well as one set in the past (a common theme in Kearsley's novels) and tend to seek out these type of story-lines.  In this case it is about time travel.  While this would be considered part of the historical fiction genre, I more-so enjoyed the romantic side of the story as it did not fall in to the cheesy category that so many romantic themes can find themselves victim of.  I found the characters were well developed and that the story flowed well.  

Overall I would give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 and would recommend this book and any of her others for those looking for a good easy read that will help you escape for a few hours.  If you were to read only one or two, I would however recommend The Winter Sea first followed closely by Mariana.

Terri's Rating

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