Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: The Susanna Kearsley edition

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading

Whilst my choice this week kind of sort of fits the theme, it also does not.

This last weekend I finished reading Susanna Kearsley's latest book, The Vanished Days. Kearsley is one of those authors who I always, always recommend to other readers, particularly books like The Winter Sea or The Rose Garden. I love the history and the way that she connects the past with the present. 

The Vanished Days also represents the tenth book I have read by her, so today I bring you a Top Ten Tuesday featuring the books of Susanna Kearsley. There are a couple of books that I do still have to read. I am kind of holding off on them so that I know I always will have some that I can turn to, at some point.

But first, a few words about The Vanished Days.

This book is different from Kearsley's other books. Normally there she has a dual timeline, one in the present and one in the past, which are somehow interconnected. In this book, there are still two timelines, but one is predominantly in the 1690s and the other in 1707, and we get to hear the history both looking back and as it is happening. It is a fascinating time with the Jacobites, the ill fated Darien exhibition, religious tension and so much more.

The narrator is Adam Williamson. He is a Scot who has just returned from America and he is hoping to reconnect with his friend, who was a survivor from Darien. Instead, he is coerced into leading an investigation into a woman named Lilly Aitcheson, who is claiming entitlements as a widow of a man who died on the exhibition. He has to determine if Lilly was really married to James Graeme, as she claimed. 

I couldn't help but feel like Adam was something of an unreliable narrator. He was looking back to tell us Lilly's history, but also about the investigation, which really was about much more than just whether the marriage was legitimate or not.

I really enjoyed parts of this book, but there were other parts which got bogged down in the politics and history of the day. Lilly was also a complicated character, and I was never really sure about her, so you had an unreliable narrator talking about an unreliable character. There's no doubt though, that Lilly is not a cookie cutter historical heroine. Her story is one of survival against the odds, of which there were many.

I did recently start rereading The Winter Sea on audiobook. I had to stop because there was an overlap in characters, but I will be going back to it now. I don't often reread, but this Kearsley is one of those authors where I make an exception.

Goodreads has The Winter Sea, The Firebird and this book are all connected together as a series called Scottish on Goodreads, but then The Winter Sea and The Firebird are connected together under the series label Slains. In reality,  the way that Kearsley's books are connected is more complicated than that. Characters cross paths through a lot of these books. In The Vanished Days we here about the early days of the main characters from The Winter Sea, plus different characters from The Firebird, and connecting to Bellewether which I haven't read yet. Some of these characters also appear in the short story in The Deadly Hours, and then one of the characters from The Shadowy Horses also turns up in The Firebird. Mariana is in there somewhere too. All very interconnected. What there isn't though, is an actual order to read in, so you can start anywhere.

Let's start with the 5 star reads:

The Winter Sea (review)- If I was recommend a reading order, I would say start with this one. It was my first Kearsley, and is still my favourite

The Shadowy Horses (review)- Kearsley does Roman history.

The Rose Garden (review) - This one is set in Cornwall.

The Fire Bird (review) - Jacobites in Russia. Yes please.

And now for the 4 star books. I still enjoyed them a lot, but maybe not as much the ones above!

Mariana - I suspect if I read this one now, I would enjoy it, but it was the second Kearsley I read, straight after The Winter Sea

Season of Storms - This one is set in Italy, which is different for this author.

Named of the Dragon - This book is set in Wales. I don't remember a lot about it, so I might need to reread this one..

A Desperate Fortune - Connected to The Winter Sea and The Firebird

And the two latest offerings.....

The Deadly Hours (review) - A short story featuring characters from

The Vanished Days - This book, which was  4/5 read for me.

I feel a Kearsley reread coming on!


  1. You are an expert on this author, I think.

    1. Not quite, but she is definitely one of my favourites Deb

  2. I'll have to try Kearsley, you recommend her so well!

  3. I thought I had read one of hers, but Goodreads tells me I’m wrong. I’ll be looking at her more closely after reading this.

    My post—https://fiftytwo.blog/2021/11/02/ttt-books-to-recommend-to-non-readers/

    Happy TTT!

  4. I really need to read a Kearsley book already. They sound like the kind of novels I love. Thanks for the reminder!

    Happy TTT!

  5. The Kearsley books sound pretty good from what I've heard.

  6. I've not read any Susanna Kearsley but I do like historical fiction, so maybe I'll give her books a try!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/11/02/top-ten-tuesday-340/