Guest Post by Susanna Kearsley + Giveaway of The Rose Garden

I could not be more excited to be hosting my new favorite author, Susanna Kearsley, today on Passages to the Past!  Susanna is here with a guest post in honor of the Sourcebooks re-issue of her novel, The Rose Garden!  

I recently read Kearsley's novel, The Winter Sea, after seeing all of the rave reviews from my fellow book bloggers and fell in love with her writing!  It was such a fabulous story and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of her novels.  It is very thrilling for me to have here on my blog and I hope you enjoy the guest post as much as I did!

And thanks to the generous people of Sourcebooks, I have a copy of The Rose Garden to give away to one lucky reader!

And now, please welcome Susanna Kearsley...

Humanizing History

Every so often debates will spring up about the value of historical fiction, and how it compares to historical non-fiction, and whether fiction has any real place in the telling of history.

I won’t get up on my soap-box about all that here (although as both a former museum curator and a historical novelist, I have a few strong opinions) but I truly feel that historical fiction, when done well, puts back into history what the history books sometimes take out of it: the human factor.

Battles are not fought by kings and generals, they are fought by men, who breathe and love and hope and hate and dream, just like the rest of us. The paper records left to us don’t always give a sense of that, and history books concerned with “facts” (as they perceive the facts to be) are really only telling half the story.

One of the best examples I can give of this comes, not from any book I’ve written, but from one of the first historical novels I ever read: Jan Westcott’s The Hepburn. One of the major subplots in that novel tackles the tale of King James IV of Scotland and his mistress (and possibly wife), Margaret Drummond.

At the turn of the 16th century, James IV was in a power struggle with his English counterpart, Henry VII. Henry wanted James to marry Henry’s daughter Margaret. James was noncommittal. The reason for this was no secret, as described by historian Maria Perry in her 1998 book The Sisters of Henry VIII:

“In Scotland it was whispered that real impediment to James’ marriage [to Margaret Tudor] was his love for Margaret Drummond, who had been his mistress since 1496. He was said to be passionately attached to her. Many people believed that her death by poisoning in 1501 was deliberately contrived by courtiers who feared their king would never marry…while she lived.”

So, poor Margaret Drummond, along with her two sisters (who had shared the same breakfast as she had) died of poisoning, and James subsequently married Margaret Tudor. Those are the facts, and historians are limited in how they can present them.

It’s not that historians don’t allow James to have feelings. Some do. Some speculate that James was “stunned” or “devastated” by the death of the woman he patently loved, and some even go further to infer that, because he immediately rushed his and Margaret Drummond’s young daughter to a place of greater safety, and because for the rest of his life he continued to pay priests to sing prayers each year for the repose of Margaret Drummond’s soul, he must have loved her very dearly.

King Henry IV of France
Others, like the 19th century historian Thomas Wright, in his History of Scotland, give

James a very different reaction: “The chain was now broken with which James had so long been bound,” Wright states, “and he prepared eagerly for his marriage.”

But none of the historians, no matter how they try to get inside the head and heart of James IV, can do what Jan Westcott did. Here’s how she had James react to the poisoning of Margaret Drummond, the woman he loved:

“The king came through the curtained doorway. He knocked a chair out of his way. Eufemia’s face was hidden from him, Sybilla was moaning in short quick gasps; the heavy feet of men running sounded from outside. James took Maggie in his arms, he lifted her and carried her from the room where Eufemia already lay dead.

“My darling, my darling,” he whispered. He had taken her on his lap, and she was huddled against him, her legs doubled under her. She crouched on his knees, her arms around his neck, fiercely.

She could not speak. She burrowed against him. Mary came running with a bowl, and James forced Maggie’s head up. He forced her jaws open. She began to retch.

The doctor stood over her. This was the only thing to do; there was nothing more except to pray. He wiped Maggie’s mouth with a towel dipped in rosewater…”

And later in the scene, when Margaret’s dead and we are seeing through the eyes of Mary Gordon, there is this:

“James had lain Maggie on her bed. He was pulling up the white sheet. Mary saw his brown hands on the white linen.

He did not cover her face. Suddenly he tucked the sheet across her breast. He lifted her hands and crossed them. Then he bent down and Mary saw the broad shoulders shaking. Slowly she let the curtain fall back into place.”

It’s been more than thirty years since I read The Hepburn. I haven’t picked it up again until today, to read those words. But I remember every vivid image of that scene, and I have always had a soft spot for King James IV because of it, because I felt his very human grief and glimpsed him, not as a great king, but as a man.

Good history books can teach us many things about the past. Good historical fiction can connect us to it. And that, in my view at least, makes it worth writing.

About The Rose Garden...

Release Date: October 1, 2011


When Eva’s filmstar sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Trelowarth, Cornwall , where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina’s ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs.

But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived – and died – long before she herself was born.

Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.

*Susanna Kearsley's WEBSITE is really wonderful, so be sure to check it out for more information on the author and her novels.

Giveaway Information...

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open to US and Canada ONLY.
- For +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- For +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on October 17th.

Good luck to all!



  1. Rena,

    I absolutely fell in love with The Winter Sea and Susanna has just become one of my favorite authors. Please include me in this great giveaway. I'm a long time follower of this blog and on Passages FB. I shared on my facebook wall.

  2. I love the description of this book. It sounds so interesting, I would love to read it.

    I am a gfc follower.+5

  3. Please enter me in the contest!! Thanks!!

  4. I would love to read this book! I'm an old GFC follower. :)

  5. This is on my list to read.

  6. I am a GHC follower.

  7. Wonderful guest post! Please enter me in the giveaway.


  8. Oh wow, what a good post! I totally agree that well written historical fiction can fill in the blanks that nonfiction leave gaping. I love to read both nonfiction and fiction about a certain person in history to feel like I get a well rounded view of them. Because, really, even nonfiction is someone's interpretations of what happened in history.

    I have heard such wonderful things about Susanna Kearsley but haven't had the chance to read anything by her yet. Thanks for the opportunity to win one of her books!

    +5. GFC follower (Colleen Turner).
    +3. Joined Facebook page (Colleen Turner0.
    +1. Shared on Facebook (Colleen Turner).

  9. Sounds like an amazing story! I can't wait to read some of Susanna's work!

  10. Please enter me into the contest--I would love to read this book.
    minoubazaar AT

  11. I loved The Winter Sea and am really glad you got a chance to read it - and that you enjoyed it too. I've read a few of Jan Westcott's books but not The Hepburn, but it sounds like I'll need to add it to my list asap. Poor Margaret and her sisters!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Lovely! Just lovely! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! The book sounds quite good, and I cannot wait to read it! Thank you, also, for the contest!

    + 5 for following and
    + 3 for FB joining .

    (Also - thanks for opening to Canada!)

    Ammy Belle
    apereiraorama @ gmail . com

  13. Thank you for hosting Susanna Kearsley today.....I have read and loved all of her novels and highly recommend them! Her writing is timeless and classic and is a wonderful blending of history, romance and suspense. No need to enter me as I have The Rose Garden (thank you, Susanna!) and it is wonderful.

  14. Sounds like a fascinating read!

    Already a follower.
    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  15. I'm a follower- thanks for the giveaway!

  16. The synopsis of this book is very intriguing. I'm very interested in any book that switches from one time to another. I think it must take a very talented author to accomplish that.

  17. What a great guest post! I teach history, and I love historical fiction. I so agree that historical fiction done well can help humanize history. :)


    I'm a follower, I just applied to join the group on Facebook (Katy F-), and tweeted here:!/afewmorepages/status/122358504077000704

  18. mmm, me too. love the sights and sounds of this book.
    vvb32 at

  19. "Winter Sea" is on my TBR shelf, looking forward to reading both that and the re-released "Rose Garden."

  20. I've been a fan of Susanna Kearsley since I bought one of her books, Shadowy Horses, from the Mystery Guild years ago. I absolutely fell in love with the story and especially the sentinel.

    I would love to win a copy of this book to add to my keeper shelf where her other stories are!

  21. I really enjoyed this post, and I feel the same way about how fiction can humanize history. I've read an excerpt from THE ROSE GARDEN and am eager to read more. Thanks so much for the chance to win copies of Susanna Kearsley's books!

    +5 Old GFC follower

    +3 sent a request to join on FB

    +1 Tweeted:!/ASeaOfBooks/status/122357433887760384

    +1 Posted on my sidebar at

    +1 Shared on FB

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  22. The Winter Sea is one of my favorites and I enjoyed Mariana, too. Please entrer me! (Old follower :)

  23. I would love a chance to win this book!
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  24. I'm also a follower.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  25. Please enter me in the giveaway for The Rose Garden. It really looks like a very good book.

  26. This sounds like an amazing book! I love the cover!

    I'm a follower +5


  27. I enjoyed the guest post and I would love to win this book!

    +5 follow gfc - mamabunny13
    +3 fb follow - mamabunny shelor
    +1 shared on fb!/permalink.php?story_fbid=283070215046016&id=100001199655476

    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  28. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  29. read the 1st paragraph of the synopsis & you got me at 'ghosts' & 'slipping between centuries'!!!!

    thank you for the giveaway!!!

    +5 = i'm a follower (cyn209)
    +3 = liker on FB page
    +1 = posting on my FB page (


  30. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this book. Both The Rose Garden and The Winter Sea are on my wishlist. I'm really happy for the chance to win one of them.

    I am a GFC follower.
    Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

  31. This is on my list to read!
    ps - follow you thru google reader.

  32. Definitely on the TBR pile. Thanks for the giveaway. I'm a gfc follower, as well as fb.

  33. I saw you were reading The Winter Sea and am curious about her books. I've never read them but they sound so interesting. I am so jealous she was a curator AND a writer! I don't think I could ever write a book but I'd love to be involved in history somehow.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

    +5 I'm a follower of your blog
    +3 I'm a friend on Facebook
    +1 I'm tweeting (vegasbookgirl) and sharing on FB


  34. I'd love to read this one! Thanks for the fabulous giveaway!

    +5 Follower
    +3 FB Follower

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

  35. A very interesting post! I'm a genealogist and was a colonial archeologist, and historical fiction has been my favorite genre for decades. It entertains, illustrates, and sometimes pulls me into a world I knew little about before.

    Please enter me in The Rose Garden drawing. I have just subscribed, just applied to join the Passages to the Past FB page, and reposted on my FB page.

  36. I've loved historical fiction since I was about 9 years old. In fact, Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" taught me to fantasize myself into history, and I even practiced my piano lesson carefully, as if Bach or Mozart were listening to my recital. (What a nerd.)

    Please enter me in the draw for The Rose Garden.
    I'm a follower of this blog.
    editornado at gmail dot com

  37. Please enter me. This sounds great.

    +5 GFC follower
    +3 FB Friend


  38. I've heard great things about Susanna Kearsley, and I'd love to have the chance to finally read one of her books. And I'm a follower.


  39. Hi! Love the blog and Susanna's books! My email is Thanks!

  40. I would love to read The Rose Garden! Please enter me in the giveaway. :)

    I'm a GFC follower. +5
    I'm already a member of the Facebook page. +3
    I tweeted the giveaway here!/bharbin11/status/123126881066295297 +1

    Thanks so much!

  41. No need to enter me. I just wanted to say I just finished reading The Rose Garden and LOVED it. My review will be up this week. I now can't wait to read The Winter Sea.

  42. I've read a couple of other novels by Ms. Kearsley and I know I'd love this one too. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I am a Google follower

  43. One novel I am excited to read, thanks!
    Google follower!

  44. I haven't read anything by this author, but I've heard great things, so this is on my to read list! thanks:)

    I'm a GFC follower

  45. Wonderful post! I knew nothing of this historical story and know it makes me want to search more about it. That's why I love HF. You're correct in that good HF connects readers to the story, hopefully leaving an indelible mark.
    thanks for the giveaway :)


    follower from way back in the day :)

  46. Terrific review! I would love to win a copy of The Rose Garden. I'm a follower of PTTP and a member of the FB page.

  47. LOVED The Winter Sea. Can't wait to read this one.

  48. Hi, Susanna! When I read this synopsis and another about your new book, "The Rose Garden," I knew I had to read it! Thank you for giving me something really great to look forward to.

    I follow PTTP and on FB too.

    Connie Fischer

  49. +5 for being a follower
    +3 for joining your facebook page
    +1 for blogging
    +1 for tweeting
    +1 for posting on facebook

    Thank you for the chance to win.


    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  50. My daughter would love this book, thank you for hosting the giveaway.

    +1 for tweeting (!/wfnren/status/124269334729199616)


  51. Thanks for the giveaway! I have heard a LOT of great things about "The Winter Sea"! It's on my wishlist so it looks like I'll be adding this one as well.


  52. Oops! Left comment on previous post.

    +5 Already follow via GFC (MamaHendo3).
    +3 Already FB fan (Laura Henderson).
    +1 Tweeted giveaway:!/MamaHendo3/status/124284886885466112
    +1 Posted giveaway on FB:


  53. This book sounds so interesting. I'd love to read it.
    Jennifer L.
    jentam777 at gmail dot com

  54. I forgot to say in my previous post that I just became a follower on gfc.
    Jennifer L.
    jentam777 at gmail dot com

  55. The premise of this book is fascinating and I'm a little envious of Eva getting the chance to see what life was like hundreds of years ago and meet and fall for one of the inhabitants of that time period! So cool!

    +5 I'm a follower
    +3 I 'like' your FB page

    Thank you for this awesome giveaway!


  56. I would love to receive The Rose Garden. It sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you for the giveaway.
    I am a follower and on facebook.

  57. I'd love to read this! It sounds really good! Thank you for the giveaway!

    I follow on GFC.


    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  58. I have wanted to read this one for a long time. Thanks for such a great giveaway. I'd love to win it!

    I follow in google reader.


    2 Kids and Tired Books

  59. I have a copy of THE HEPBURN. It is sitting with other books of the same vintage. It sounds like I will have to read it. I like time travel books, so THE ROSE GARDEN appeals very much to me. I can relate to her. Our whole family seems to have been born out of the time they would have fitted best in.

    I am a GFC Follower, librarypat.

    I am a Twitter follower, pbbearclaw.

    I follow you on Facebook, Patricia Barraclough.

    I tweeted this:!/pbbearclaw/status/125804835890147328

    I shared this on Facebook:

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  60. Thanks for the giveaway. This book is on my TBR list.

  61. Thanks for the giveway. Added this to my TBR list


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