genre: historical fiction
Sara is a wiz with numbers. Codes calm her and when an opportunity arrives to decode an old journal, it sounds like just the right task. As the journal begins to reveal its secrets, Sara finds so much more than a list of daily experiences, the life of Mary Dundas is a tale of a journey. Mary becomes embroiled with exiled Jacobites and danger is only one piece of what she finds once she makes the choice to live a more adventurous life.
I have read a LOT of Susanna Kearsley and I have enjoyed them all, but I think this might actually be my favorite (a toss up between this and A Winter Sea). Both plots were so fleshed out and real. I liked living in both of these worlds - France in the present and France 300 years ago. One thing I particularly liked was that Sara, our protagonist, has Asperger's Syndrome. Any book that can gently and respectfully have a person with a disability in the narrative without making the disability be the point of the narrative gets three cheers from me. Sara is open and honest with us in her inner monologue about what she struggles with and how she copes with those things. She learns that having this disability doesn't make her un-lovable and wow, that's a great thing to learn.
I liked the thread of Scottish lore and culture that's woven throughout Mary's story. The Jacobite period is clearly a favorite of Kearsley and Mary's interaction with the cause is a different twist than in previous books.
Kearsley is just good at what she does - strong historical presence and sense of place. Her end notes show how deeply she researches the time period. This one is different in that there is no paranormal activity to help us as readers go back and forth in time - the journal plot device worked really well for me. Lovely romantic threads in both time periods, which I also found very fun. I'm a fan.
*note: I was given a complementary advanced readers copy courtesy of Netgalley*