Eva Ward is mourning the death of her only remaining family. She decides to return with her sister’s ashes to the only place where they both felt at home. So she heads to Trelowarth, the ancient home of family friends on the Cornish coast.
Eva processes her grief by helping her old playmates modernize their family business. But soon she starts noticing shifts in her vision and hears voices which don’t exist. Worried that she might be losing her mind, she finds herself transported in time to the year 1715.
There she meets Daniel Butler, his brother Jack and their friend Fergal. These men are knee deep in danger. Not only are they well-respected smugglers but they are also involved in a potential Jacobite rebellion.
As Eva travels back and forth in time she must wrestle with the challenges of disappearing and reappearing at whim. But the bigger challenge she faces is protecting her orphaned heart and deciding where she belongs.
The Rose Garden is a beautiful and leisurely story which I really enjoyed. It is my third title by author Susanna Kearsley who impresses me which each tale. (And did you see that evocatively gorgeous cover?)
Time-slip novels have gained in popularity recently and I understand why. It allows the reader to enjoy both a contemporary and historical tale. Kearsley sets the historical aspect of The Rose Garden during the Jacobite Rebellion, a precarious time in history which isn’t often featured in novels.
The Rose Garden is a story to be savored, thus it tends to move slowly. Aside from the danger presented by the local constable who has an ax to grind against the Butler brothers, there is a negligible amount of tension. But the prose is lyrical and descriptive, transporting me instantly to a romanticized version of Cornwall.
Eva is a sympathetic character and her grief is quiet but moving. Originally, I though she was being set up for a romance with her old friend Mark, and then with Oliver, another childhood playmate. But the author surprised me by creating a slow burn love story between Eva and Daniel Butler. Although I wish the romance was a bit more prominent, it did leave me wondering what Eva’s final choice was going to be.
The time travel aspect was interesting, but slightly less than credible. Time travel itself is a fantastical element for which I am always prepared to suspend my disbelief. But it is Eva’s easy transition and acceptance which I find hard to accept. Equally unbelievable is that Daniel and Fergal quickly adjust to her constant disappearing and reappearing in a time where the idea would not have been considered a scientific one or even slightly plausible. Most likely, Eva would have been accused as a witch with supernatural powers, not welcomed with open arms.
Aside from my complaint about the time-travel element, this was just the dreamy quiet read I needed. Although I didn’t like it quite as well as Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, I loved the setting, the history and the characters. I will definitely be reading more books by this author.
Content Note: There are a few profanities and implied physical intimacy.