FIRST SENTENCE: Andrew Harrington would have gladly died several times over if that meant not having to choose just one pistol from among his father's vast collection in the living room cabinet.
The Map of Time is really a narrative consisting of three interconnected stories wrapped around the novelist H. G. Wells and the concept of time travel. Time travel is portrayed as an event where traveling back in time and changing an event appears to create a parallel world.
We have a third party narrator who sometimes engages the reader directly (for some reason, I tend to love this writing style), with cameo appearances by Joseph Merrick (aka the "Elephant Man" - I found a lovely site that chronicles his life here), Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Henry James, wrapped around events and places: The Great London Fire of 1666, Jack the Ripper's reign, and 50 Berkeley Square (the most haunted house in London).
Some character sketches:
Andrew Harrington - 26 years old and still broken-hearted over the murder of the woman he loved, who would do anything to change the course of history.
Gilliam Murray - an oversized but graceful huckster who has brought time travel to the masses (those who can afford it, that is).
Herbert George Wells - 30 years old, who has recently published The Island of Dr. Moreau and is married to his second wife.
Claire Haggerty - A 21-year-old society girl, and extremely bored with her life.
Tom Blunt - son of a grave robber, whose mother died of cholera before his 6th birthday, soon followed by the drowning of his father.
To avoid spoilers, I can't really supply a synopsis, as the way the book unfolds leaves the reader wondering about this and that until the questions are answered with further reading. There is a rather Victorian feel to this novel and readers of Steampunk would like it, even though there aren't gears and steam-powered contraptions :). The translation of Palma's work seems to be spot on, and even though the novel is BIG (the ARC weighed in at 609 pages), it is so enjoyable to read that the pages seem to fly by.
I think this could be the break-out hit of the summer. Here is my caveat on that: For readers who like a straight-forward story that you don't have to think about - probably not for you. For readers who like a bit of a puzzle - definitely for you. Historical fiction, Victoriana, murder, mystery, romance - there's a bit of each element here. I thought it was superbly written, with fascinating details and a true "feel" for the characters. In short - a stupendous reading experience - I loved it.
QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in finished copy):
(I had so many quotes down for this that it was hard for me to pick the following , but I hope they give you a feel for the novel):
He doubted whether either of them would ever decipher the true message concealed in his gesture (that he had preferred to die as he had lived - alone), but for Andrew it was enough to imagine the inevitable look of disgust on his father's face when he discovered his son had killed himself behind his back, without his permission.
Assuming you stay until the end of this tale, some of you will no doubt think that I chose the wrong thread with which to begin spinning my yarn, and that for accuracy's sake I should have respected chronological order and begun with Miss Haggerty's story. It is possible, but there are stories that cannot begin at their beginning, and perhaps this is one of them.
"Behind this door awaits the most horrific-looking creature you have probably ever seen or will ever see; it is up to you whether you consider him a monster or an unfortunate wretch."
Wells felt a little faint.
It took him almost two hours to persuade his superior to sign an arrest warrant for a man who had not yet been born.
"In that case, forgive our reticence, but you will understand that murdering three innocent people in cold blood with the sole aim of drawing our attention leads us to doubt your philanthropic intentions," retorted Wells, who was just as capable, when he wanted, of stringing together sentences as tortuous as those of James.
Writing: 5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 starsshow more
by Julie Smith