When Julia Beckett was five years old, she saw a house while traveling with her family and instantly felt drawn to it. Years later, she sees the house again and impulsively decides to buy it. As she settles down in the country village of Exbury, she is fascinated by the history of her house and the surrounding area. She also begins to experience “flashbacks” from the perspective of Mariana Farr, an inhabitant of the house in the 17th century. The more time Julia spends as Mariana, the more she is captivated by the events of the past — especially when the handsome Richard de Mornay, lord of the neighboring manor, shows an interest in Mariana. However, Julia must eventually discover why she shares Mariana’s experiences and what the consequences will be for her own life.
I had heard a lot of wonderful things about Susanna Kearsley, but I ended up being a bit underwhelmed by my first Kearsley novel, The Winter Sea. I enjoyed this book more, probably because I had more moderate expectations going in. Julia is a likable character, and I really enjoyed her relationships with the other present-day characters, especially her brother Tom. I was actually much less interested in the historical plot line, which is unusual for me. I felt like Kearsley wanted me to care more about Mariana’s story, but I honestly cared more about Julia’s. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the present-day romance either, but I can’t explain why without spoiling the book. Overall, I found this book a pleasant read, but unfortunately it didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.