Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: April 2015, Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: ARC Paperback, 528 pages
For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal's cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal's reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn't hold the secrets Sara expects.
It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.
When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.
As Mary's tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take... to find the road that will lead her safely home.
My thoughts: Susanna Kearsley is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I've read a few of her books already and have the others on my list to read. I find that once I start one of her books, it's hard to do anything else because I just want to stay within the worlds she creates. This latest book was definitely no exception.
I love the dual time lines that Susanna uses, and find that she blends the present with the past so well. This time around, we have two women who are trying to find their place in the world. In the present-day story, we have Sara, who struggles with Asperger's. She has recently been called upon to break the code of a diary written in the eighteenth century. The past story line focuses on Mary, who grew up in France during the Jacobite revolution and finds herself involved in a covert operation.
I found both storylines and characters to be equally interesting and intriguing. As the story would move back and forth between the two, I would anxiously await for it to get back to the other, as I wanted to see what would come next for each. I never felt more invested in one character than the other - I wanted to see each find what they were looking for.
I loved how the diary became the means for telling us Mary's story. While there is no time travel as there has been in Susanna's previous books, I felt the diary provided an effective means for connecting the two stories. And I also loved the cameo appearances of some characters from previous books. I haven't read all Susanna's books, but I did recognize a few familiar characters!
My only complaint about this book is that it does start off a bit slow. I don't seem to recall this happening with the other books I've read by her, but after a few chapters, I did find myself having a hard time putting the book down, so it does pick up - just be a little patient.
Susanna Kearsley is definitely an auto-read for me. Her books transport me to another time and place and I love getting to know all her characters. I can't wait to not only read those books of hers that I haven't yet, but to see what comes next from her.