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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

The Rose Garden  is both a time travel novel and chic lit.  As much as I love the idea of time travel, I find a lot of fantastical things --magic, fairies, and colonies in outer space-- much easier to accept.  For some reason, I always quibble with time travel.  Not when I read about the possibilities that quantum mechanics hypothesizes; I'm ready to entertain the real possibility, but I find fictional accounts impossible to reconcile.

I liked the setting and liked the characters (almost too many characters were very likable).  If the Cornish smugglers felt a little gentlemanly for their trade, that was OK, too.  And if so many romances worked out well, I can enjoy a few happy endings once in a while.

However, likable as some of the characters are, they felt like placeholders, and the romances were a bit conveniently coincidental. The time travel simply had too many discrepancies--or too few "logical" explanations.

Go ahead and make up a "logical" explanation for what causes the slippage, for the differences in the amount of time spent in past and present, for the arrival in a particular period or location--something more than the house being built on ley lines--and maybe I could suspend my disbelief.

I had no problem reading it, no place that I wanted to walk away without finishing, but neither was it a particularly memorable experience.

Fiction.  Chic Lit.  2011.  430 pages.


  1. Have you read Connie Willis' time travel novels? I am fascinated with the idea, and she is among the best I've read.

  2. Maybe this wasn't one of her best books. I know Danielle likes them a lot and she has written a few very interesting reviews but not of this one. Was it you first Kearsley? I'd like to read one but maybe I'll pick another one first.

  3. I only liked time travel in The Time Traveler's Wife

  4. Laurie - I read To Say Nothing of the Dog years ago and enjoyed it...thanks for reminding me! I also have had Willis' Dooms Day Book on my list forever, and still haven't read it. Now I'd like to re-read Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!) by Jerome Jerome (not time travel, but what inspired me to read Willis) and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Willis.

    Caroline - I looked at the Amazon reviews and many dedicated readers were disappointed. It IS the first book I've read by Kearsley, and I may try The Winter Sea to get another view of her work.

    bookmagic - A lot of people loved that book, but although I enjoyed it, I had problems with the time travel in it, too. Don't know why I get so picky in this sub-genre, especially when I love the idea.

  5. The Winter Sea was my first Kearsley and I really enjoyed it. I have read more from her since, but that remains my favourite. I enjoyed this book, too, but not quite as much.

  6. The Winter Sea was my first Kearsley too and it is still my favourite. I do think I am genetically predisposed to really enjoying her books though!

  7. Kailana - I think everyone must have enjoyed The Winter Sea. I can see the draw to Kearsley's writing and to her characters even if the time travel didn't work for me.

    Marg - :) I love "genetically predisposed" -- what a great way to explain our being drawn to certain stories! And we all ARE drawn to particular characters, settings, and plots.

  8. I'm another of those who loved The Winter Sea. I have a cope of The Rose Garden in my Kindle books (must have been on sale, at some point) and The Shadowy Horses on my shelves, but still haven't read them. I do like time travel, though. In fact, now I'm craving a Connie Willis read, thanks to Laurie!

  9. "Copy", not cope. Sorry. Tired, today.