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The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

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Leyland
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The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Post by Leyland » Mon October 24th, 2011, 3:29 pm

I received and read Susanna Kearsley's The Rose Garden over the weekend and totally enjoyed, and stayed engrossed, in this timeslip novel. The creative and believable way she maneuvered the main character's (Eva Ward) passage between the 300 hundred years difference between time periods (how to manage clothing changes and adapting to new styles, explaining and hiding her entrances and exits, etc) included a few new twists for my reading experience with the genre.

The somewhat logical and later emotional way the characters in the past time period accepted and supported Eva’s puzzling time displacements were humorous and endearing and the bonds between them all developed in ways that bring the reader believably into their world, as it became increasingly filled with major readjustments. There are some downright inventive spur of the moment lies and methods of concealing Eva’s misplacement amid the local 18th century population that were quite clever and maintained consistently throughout by Susanna.

Other major enjoyment factors:

Cornwall! Such a lovely and wild setting, and I could feel how much Susanna loves that part of the world by her usual outstanding descriptive narrative. Smugglers, rebellion and a fierce climate made for such a great background for the adventurous parts of the novel.

The sincere and straightforward way romantic threads are woven between several characters in both time periods. I’m a fan of romantic feelings in fiction that include respect amid growth in a civil sense, versus various formulas that use contention and strife to create sparks. The many quiet and close moments that encouraged Eva’s developing feelings of love for (won’t spoil it!) were so much more enjoyable to read than the bickering and sarcasm I’ve read in many other novels with romantic bases. I enjoyed meeting all Susanna’s couples and hearing their stories.

Several characters’ back stories contained recent sorrows and pathos that made a definite imprint on how they reacted to, rejoiced in or rejected what goodness could fulfill their lives and I believe that Kearsley pulled it together happily for them all in the forward flow of their lives. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

A time travel surprise at the end made me especially appreciate the levels of clever imagination that Susanna blended into the story. I did enjoy the past storyline more than the present one, but the characters in the present time are good people and it was fun to experience their hopes, dreams and accomplishments at a distinct turning point in their lives. But then again, in this novel, what exactly is the present time?
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 24th, 2011, 10:11 pm

Thanks for the review, Leyland. I just finished Kearsley's the Winter Sea and found it both believable and engaging. I think I'm on for this one, especially if it's available on Kindle.

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Tue October 25th, 2011, 2:45 am

Sounds wonderful, Leyland. I think I'll pick this up. Thanks!

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Tue October 25th, 2011, 7:58 am

Lovely review, Leyland. I have this on my Kindle, so look forward to reading it. I loved The Winter Sea and Mariana.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Tue October 25th, 2011, 2:10 pm

I liked The Winter Sea much better. I thought this one was just okay. I didn't think the characters were as fleshed out as they could have been and I found the plot, especially as it related to the time travel, very contrived. Kearsley is great at setting the scene and creating the atmosphere, though, which for many readers who enjoy this type of story will be good enough.

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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Tue October 25th, 2011, 10:50 pm

My copy arrived today. I've heard from others that Winter Sea is a better novel - that was my favorite of her so far, too - but I'm sure it will still be better than most other books I'd happen to pick up.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Tue October 25th, 2011, 11:54 pm

I agree that Winter Sea is a better novel by far, but still compared to a lot of what's coming out these days The Rose Garden is still very good.
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Susan
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Post by Susan » Thu November 24th, 2011, 2:18 pm

Currently about 60% done with The Rose Garden and I am enjoying it, but did anyone else find that the characters 300 years in the past too readily accepted the time travel? Perhaps there is something I have not yet read that will account for this.
~Susan~
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Ash
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Post by Ash » Thu November 24th, 2011, 2:29 pm

Based on your review, I am putting this book on my holiday wish list!

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