Friday, 8 February 2013
Review: Trick of Time by JL Merrow
There was much to like about this book. Firstly, I really sympathised with the character of Ted, who still grieves over the death of his lover, and the subsequent difficulties he has faced with his slurred speech and lack of mobility in his hand. He could have come across as moping at the beginning but that is saved by the fact that his narrative and feelings seem genuine and also because he is doing his best to get on with life. Ted is also fiercely independent and so comes across as a little prickly. I liked that he was a fighter, but still vulnerable.
The big test for a time travel romance is the realism in the historical setting when compared to the present day. In this book the author had taken the approach of focusing on particular snapshots of scenes, rather than trying to give a broad sweep of setting. This means that we get a lot of detail in the Victorian Piccadilly Circus, and in other places like Jem's room in the boarding house, but the rest of the descriptions of other streets are vague. This allowed for enough in terms of setting without being overwhelmed and meant that the focus was more on the characters themselves - which for a short novel such as this is what is needed.
The first person narrative meant that Jem is a little less filled out as a character. We get to know some things about him but not much more than his occupation as a whore and the circumstances leading up to that. The pair spend so little time together - a few evenings, one of which leads to an overnight stay - than there wasn't much scope for Ted finding out any more about Jem and this meant that the ending seemed like a huge step for both of them. In some ways I wish there had been a second part to the book, taken from Jem' spoint of view and showing how he adjusted to life in the 21st century. I still enjoyed their time together though, especially in the way the awkward beginning blossoms into fondness and then love, even if it does all happen rather quickly.
This book is more about Ted's journey towards recovery and setting aside his intense grief, so I wasn't too concerned about the potential problems with the romance. The theme of grief is handled with a deft touch and I particularly liked that Ted's ex-lover is remembered fondly and still very much part of who he is by the end of the book. So often the dead ex is shown to be somehow less than the new lover, and I'm glad that this wasn't the case with this book.
Overall, this was a quick and very enjoyable read. The time travel aspect is handled well with the realities of Victorian living shown not too harshly but contrasted with the comforts of modern life. The characters were sympathetic and the writing, as always with this author, very readable. If you like time travel romance, then this is a book I would recommend. Grade: Excellent.
Buy this book HERE.