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Posts Tagged ‘time travel’

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Described as Gosford Park meets Groundhog Day, by way of Agatha Christie, this is a twisty, confusing book with a brilliant premise.

The formerly grand Blackheath House is hosting a party, and the hosts’ daughter Evelyn is going to die at 11.00pm. It’s murder, but it won’t look like murder and until the culprit is brought to justice by Aiden, a young man who is visiting the house, the day is going to repeat itself over and over. But as if that wasn’t enough of a mystery, every day Aiden will wake up in the body of a different party guest, seeing the party and the crime through a new set of eyes. He will have to use the clues that he picks up in each persona to piece together what happens and work out who kills Evelyn. Only then will be free to leave Blackheath.

Right, so I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was very much looking forward to reading it; I like the whole Groundhog Day scenario, as well as the idea of seeing the same day through different eyes and perspectives. The writing itself was eloquent and often quite poetic – there were occasions when a sentence really caught my attention just by how beautifully it was phrased. But my goodness this book is confusing and I can’t help feeling the author got a little bit too clever with the idea, and tried to cram almost too much in. (I am in awe at the planning he must have made to get the timeline in order!) With every day starting over, every ‘host’ was somewhat affected by the actions of the previous host, and the times and locations of certain events became quite hard to follow. I would genuinely recommend keeping a notebook nearby and jotting down when key events happened, because it gets very convoluted, with most characters literally not being who they seem.

Despite all this, I still found myself drawn in and didn’t feel like giving up – this is partly due to the aforementioned writing style. I will say that the ending when it came was excellent, very clever and to my mind unpredictable.

I’m not sure if I would read another book by this author. Possibly, but I’ll be sure to keep that notebook handy next time!

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In 1990, 10-year-old Aubrey Adderley’s mother takes Aubrey to an autograph signing by Hollywood Legend Gene Kelly.  She is slightly surprised by his reaction to her, but puts it out of her mind.  As she grows up however, she becomes an adoring fan of Mr Kelly.

In 2006, while housesitting for the parents of a friend, she discovers a time machine in the father’s office.  With the help of the machine and her best friend Rusty, Aubrey travels back and meets Gene at  three very different times in his life.  She starts to fall for the man behind the movie legend she has always adored, but Aubrey belongs in 2006.  Can two people from different times ever find happiness together?

I’m in two minds about this book.  There were both good and bad parts; the main good point being that the author is clearly a big fan of Gene Kelly and her passion for her subject comes through well (as I am also a big fan of Gene, I can fully appreciate this).

However, it sometimes reads as though the story is author’s own daydreams about a favourite film star, and that the time-travel element has been thrown in as a plot device to allow her to meet him.  Although fantasy fiction always requires the reader to suspend their disbelief, I found it hard to do here.  (It seemed that most of the characters who knew about the time-traveling accepted it with little difficulty – and also worked out how the machine worked, with relative ease.)

Aubrey herself was actually a very likeable main character, feisty, impulsive, loyal and sweet, and she was well described.  I also liked Rusty, and of course Gene himself, who is portrayed as the kind, honest and funny man which I like to think that he was in real life.

There were a couple of elements which jarred slightly.  The main problem was more to do with editing than the story itself.  I don’t mind the odd spelling mistake in a book, but there were quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes here (and at one point Aubrey puts a skirt on, only to raise her pant leg a short time later, in the same scene). It shouldn’t reduce anyone’s enjoyment of the story however.  My main objection to the story though (and there are spoilers here, so you may not wish to read on if you’re thinking of reading this book), is that I found it slightly disrespectful to Gene’s extremely happy marriage.  A fair proportion of the story takes place in 1957, which was after the amicable ending of Gene’s marriage to Betsy Blair, and prior to his extremely happy marriage to Jeanne Coyne – which was cut tragically short by Coyne’s death at the age of 50.  Although I am certain that this was not the author’s intention, the book kind of gives the impression that throughout his marriage to Coyne, at least part of Gene’s heart lay with Aubrey, and this made me slightly uncomfortable.

Overall however, this was a fairly enjoyable book, and worth reading if you’re a Gene Kelly fan (I kept hearing his voice in my head whenever his character spoke).  It’s flawed, but enjoyable, and if Charlotte Sadler writes any more books, I would be tempted to pick them up.

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Clare first meets Henry when she is 6 and he is 36.  But Henry is no normal man, and due to his chrono-displacement condition (in short, he involuntarily time-travels), he is able to marry Clare when he is 30 and she is 22.

Their love is enduring and strong, but due to Henry’s disappearances to other times – which he is unable to control – it means that they have to adjust to a life where Clare often doesn’t know where, or even when, Henry is.

Their life together is therefore sometimes difficult but (nearly) always wonderful. Henry has met Clare when she was a little girl and has effectively watched her grow up while all the time knowing that they will fall in love and marry. However, while Clare can remember these meetings, Henry (when he is in ‘real’ time) can’t remember them, because they involve time traveling expeditions that haven’t happened yet – even though in one way they have already happened.

Sounds confusing, but it isn’t.  Audrey Niffenegger makes this story ebb and flow beautifully, and it is always easy for the reader (if not the characters) to understand what is happening.

I loved the character of Henry.  Rather than making him a tragic yet supremely heroic man, he is portrayed as a man who through necessity, often indulges in theft, burglary and violence (the first two out of necessity – wherever Henry travels to, he always arrives naked and without provisions; and the third in self defence when he has arrived somewhere in said naked state).  This serves to make him more believable.  Clare was somewhat less of a fully rounded character, but she was certainly realistic enough to be believable, and for the reader to care about.

Where Audrey Niffenegger has really triumphed though, is in making an outlandish plot seem credible.  I absolutely do not believe in time travel, and yet for the duration of this book, I found myself totally buying into the concept.  It helps that other characters in the book are as amazed by Henry’s predicament as you would expect anybody to be.

This is an original and compelling love story, between two characters who I really found myself rooting for.  But it’s not all hearts and flowers.  Clare and Henry suffer a lot of pain and heartbreak during their life, but while their time together is unpredictable and inconstant, their love certainly isn’t.  I will be nagging friends to read this book, and will certainly be reading it again myself in the future.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This is a very short book (91 pages) which I read in one sitting, and which is perfect for a lazy afternoon (which was when I read it).  The book tells the story of a man, who is always referred to simply as The Time Traveler, who invents a time machine, which takes him to the year 802,701.  There, he finds that the human race has evolved into two species’ – the Eloi and the Morlocks.  On the face of it, the Eloi seem to live a wonderful existence, filled with pleasure.  However, the time traveler discovers that, as they want for nothing, and therefore have nothing to strive for, the Eloi have also seemingly lost the ability for intelligent thought.  (Without goals, there is no need for strategy and forethought).  However, there is a darker reality lurking underneath the surface (both literally and figuratively), in the Morlocks – a species who only come out in the darkness, and who inspire fear in the Eloi.

To say more would be to give away too much of the plot, although it is at this point that the story really began to take root.  Suffice to say that I ended up feeling more sympathy with the Morlocks than the Eloi; I have no idea if that is what the author originally intended.

However, I do believe that this book may have revealed Well’s fears for the future; if the upper classes never have to do anything for themselves, they will not be able to look after themselves, and therefore must rely on the lower classes to provide everything they need.But in return, they must give something back to the providers…as demonstrated in quite a clear fashion in this story.

It’s hard to describe how I felt about this book.  It is of course a classic, and with good reason.  Yet, I found it very difficult to engage with any of the characters.  However, I did enjoy it and would definitely recommend it to others.  It is one that I have kept, and will almost certainly reread at some point in the future, as I think it could well be a book that becomes more enjoyable with each reading.  It definitely made me consider reading more books by the same author.  It’s certainly clear that Wells had a vivid and intelligent imagination.

(For more information about the author, please click here.)

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