The Rose Garden
Sourcebooks Landmark/October 1, 2011
From the author's website ~
When Eva’s filmstar sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Trelowarth, 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.
While I've read some wonderful things about Susanna Kearsley's novels, The Rose Garden is the first for me. If this is any indication of the beautifully told stories that wait for me in Ms. Kearsley's novels, I will certainly be reading more.
The story starts out with sadness and pain. As Eva tries to make sense of her sister's death, she also needs to decide what to do with her own life. Her only real tie to Los Angeles was her sister. Now that she's gone there's nothing keeping Eva there. You get the sense that Eva is looking for comfort so she's not only going back to Cornwall to scatter her sister's ashes, she's going back to where she felt the most comfortable. I liked how Eva eased her way into life at Trelowarth, fitting in and making herself feel useful.
Eva's trips to the past begin with hearing the men speaking then venture into physically being there. Eva, like any of us would, has a hard time believing what she's hearing and what has happened to her. It's funny when she meets Daniel and tells him he's not real. As she comes to realize her reality has shifted dramatically, Eva familiarizes herself with the time period, doing some investigating as to who lived at Trelowarth House during that period. She has to be careful that she doesn't alert the Halletts and others of her interest since she doesn't want them knowing that she is traveling back and forth between the present and past.
The Halletts and their friends welcome Eva and are just what she needs to begin to feel again. I enjoyed the family and friendship bonds that are just as strong as they were years ago. It's like seeing a friend that you haven't seen in years and yet those years fade away and it's as if you were never apart. The secondary characters, both present and past, play important roles in Eva and Daniel's lives, giving insight into their pasts and how they developed into the people they became.
Daniel Bulter is a man of history. Kearsley does well incorporating the history of Daniel's time period with the political upheaval and the danger to Daniel and anyone who is loyal to him. He's a man of principles who doesn't waver on his beliefs. He's also opened minded enough to believe in Eva and her story of time travel. It's not that he doesn't have any questions or concerns, he has a lot, but he's also captivated by Eva and her story. Daniel takes the time to get to know Eva, as well as he can since she never stays around too long. It's an interesting romance with the hero and heroine never knowing how much time they will have together. It makes them truly cherish their time together.
The time travel is not only convincing due to the writing but also due in part to the location. Trelowarth has an enchanted feel about it. You can almost believe that Fae are hiding in the woods. That the fairy tales of old all happened here. If magic does exist anywhere, it's here. I loved how Kearsley describes the land, the rooms of the house and the people who inhabit this bewitching place.
The Rose Garden is a story filled with sadness, hope, fears, laughter and joy. It was at times a roller coaster ride of emotions, making me laugh and shed a few tears. Time travel romances may not be for everyone but Kearsley makes you believe in the unbelievable.