THE ROSE GARDEN by Susanna Kearsley

BLURB:

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

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.

RHL CLASSIFICATIONS:

Georgian Era

Romantic Historical Time Slip Romance

Heat level 1

Reviewer rating 4.5 Stars

REVIEW BY JILL

When Eva Ward’s sister dies she returns to Cornwall to scatter her ashes, to the place where they had spent their happy childhood summers, Trelowarth House. The gardens at Trelowarth have for generations grown roses and been tended by generations of Halletts, with Eva’s friends Mark and his sister Susan Hallett now in charge of the house and gardens.

It is on her first morning there that Eva begins to experience a series of strange events, voices and hallucinations that she puts down to grief and stress at the recent loss of her sister. But when these hallucinations continue and grow ever clearer, Eva realises that what she is experiencing is real, and that somehow she is able to move back and forth through time.

In 1715, Daniel Butler is the resident of Trelowarth House with his brother Jack and his friend Fergal. Daniel is a free-trader, although the law calls him a smuggler. But Eva has landed in a dangerous era. The 1715 Jacobite Uprising was not restricted to Scotland. James Stuart had his supporters in Cornwall as well. And Daniel is caught up in the intrigue of the times. As Eva continues to travel between her own time and the past she becomes increasingly attracted to Daniel. But with no say over how or when she travels through time, Eva wonders how this will all end and if she could ever have a future with Daniel. In the past.

Like Susanna Kearsley’s other novels I’ve read, this story has a gothic feel, not darkly gothic but hauntingly beautiful. She brings the story alive incorporating details of 18th century life such as food and cooking, running a household, clothing, sailing; and setting her story around real historical figures who were instrumental in the Jacobite Uprising in Cornwall.

Susanna Kearsley effortlessly draws all the threads of her story together at the end, weaving the sub-plots into an integrated whole. Characters, remarks, events that seem incidental to the story become important later on. There is something so masterful and yet deceptively simple about Susanna Kearsley’s prose. Her writing is like the little black cocktail dress – simple, classic, elegant. When Eva tries to understand what is happening to her, Daniel explains –

‘When I meet a wind I cannot fight,’ he said, ‘I can do naught but set my sails to let it take me where it will.’

Beautifully crafted, Susanna Kearsley has written another romantic historical fiction as fine as ‘Mariana’ and ‘The Winter Sea’. At the conclusion of ‘The Rose Garden’ I was left with a sense of deep satisfaction. This is romantic historical fiction at its best.

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