The Rose Garden - Susanna Kearsley
I find it difficult to rate this novel. On one hand, I was sufficiently engaged by the narrative and the characters to read it in two or three sittings. On the other hand, it requires a massive suspension of disbelief, which at times I found difficult to sustain.

The heroine is Eva Ward, who after the death of her much loved sister, travels from the United States to Cornwall to scatter her sister's ashes near Trelowarth House, where she and her sister spent their childhood summers. Family friends - rose grower Mark and his sister Susan - still live in the house and their artist stepmother Claire lives in a cottage on the estate. Eva inexplicably finds herself time-travelling back to Trelowarth House as it was in 1715, where she encounters the smuggling Butler brothers and their Irish friend Fergal O'Cleary and becomes caught up in an aspect of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. The rebellion is the event around which the 1715 part of the narrative revolves, but it's not really the point of the novel. Rather, this is a romance between Eva and Daniel Butler, a couple separated by time.

I'm not sure whether I like the novel because I have some (very distant) Cornish ancestry, because I've been to Cornwall and can picture the landscape in my head or because I love Daphne du Maurier's descriptive writing and I strongly feel the possibly unconscious influence of [b:Frenchman's Creek|84573|Frenchman's Creek|Daphne du Maurier||2973873] on Kearsley's writing. It may be a combination of all of those factors. In addition, I like Kearsley's prose and her ability to describe landscape.

However, even the strengths of the novel don't completely hide its weaknesses. One of them is Kearsley's attempt to provide scientific support for the idea of time travel. As I recall, she did the same thing with the concept of genetic memory in [b:The Winter Sea|3392089|The Winter Sea|Susanna Kearsley||3723657]. This is neither helpful nor necessary, particularly in the case of this novel, as Kearsley refers to Stephen Hawking in support of an assertion that time travel is possible. This is problematic because Hawking, as far as I know, believes that forward time travel may be possible, but not backward time travel. If you're writing a work of the imagination, then whether or not time travel is actually possible is beside the point and references to science only draw attention to the implausibility of the concept. And implausible it is, because in this novel time travel seems to happen randomly with no persuasive explanation for why it only happens to Eva and, as it happens, to one other character.*

Speaking of implausible, something that really struck me was just how incurious those 18th century men seem to be. A young woman materialises in the house and announces she's from 300 years in the future and virtually the only reaction is "You're from the future? Right then, you'd best pop on this frock 'cos you look a bit funny and why don't you pretend you can't talk so that people don't notice your funny accent. Now, what'll we have for supper?" I think not.

Another problem is the fact that not a lot actually happens. Eva is sad, she goes to Cornwall, she travels back and forward in time. She falls in love. When back in 1715, she's a woman, so she can't really do very much except wait around for things to happen. That said, there's a bit more action in the last quarter of the novel and a nice twist at the end, part of which I had anticipated, but elements of the twist still took me by surprise.

I know that I'm being nit-picky about a book which I actually enjoyed reading. Overall, I would have preferred a little more depth and a little less fluff. But this does not pretend to be great literature. It's pure escapism and a pleasant way to spend a few hours. And it made me want to go back to Cornwall, which is no bad thing. This is in 3-1/2 star territory, but creeping up towards four. I liked it more than [b:The Winter Sea|3392089|The Winter Sea|Susanna Kearsley||3723657] and [b:Season of Storms|961836|Season of Storms|Susanna Kearsley||946752], but not as much as [b:Every Secret Thing|65086|Every Secret Thing (Kate Murray, #1)|Emma Cole||63154]. I'm still waiting for the Kearsley novel which will blow me away.

*An explanation of sorts is provided, but it's very weak.