Written by Susanna Kearsley
Review by Andrea Connell

For fans of time travel and reincarnation-themed historical fiction, this 1993 Catherine Cookson Fiction Award winner will be excitedly welcomed back as a Sourcebooks re-release.

Julia Beckett has been strangely drawn to one particular old farmhouse in Exbury all her life, and when the opportunity arises to purchase it and shift her life from London to this small village, she jumps at the chance. Greywethers, as the house has been called for its rough-hewn grey stone walls, has a past buried within it, yet still alive, and Julia soon discovers that Greywethers’ past is as much a part of her as her own 20th-century body. She experiences frequent episodes in which she is transported back in time and relives the life of the 17th-century Mariana, with its secrets, loves, and losses.

The time travel and past life themes have been smoothly executed, making Julia’s transitions and experiences believable and cutting through possible reader skepticism enough to allow complete immersion in this engaging story. The small cast of human characters is vividly and roundly portrayed through both strong personalities and actions, whether appalling or endearing, but the strongest characters on their own terms are humble Greywethers and stately Crofton Hall, given life through their constant presence throughout the centuries. The author draws a colorful picture of both contemporary and 17th-century life in the village, with details and language marking the shifts in time.

Mariana is a beautiful and poignant tale of lost love, haunting and humbling. Whether you believe in past lives or not, this tale will make you yearn for an experience like Julia Beckett’s. Romantic, passionate, and bittersweet, this intelligent, tension-laden story will sweep you away.