Set in 1971 Richard Collier stumbles across an old photograph of an actress long dead. However, Richard becomes obsessed with this image and seeks to find out everything that he can about Elise McKenna and thus he falls in love with this woman from the past who he has never met.
Yet, this image draws him back to 1896 where he meets Elise and her associates but will he be able to find the love with Elise that he was imagining in 1971?
This is a classic story and was made into a film starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. I haven’t actually seen the film and I wonder if this might not flow better on the screen.
My reasons for suggesting this is that I really disliked the writing style of the first section of the book where the narrative is written in a kind of note form; short and sharp the way one might write a diary without the benefit of any adjectives or embellishments. However, I did like the plot. Obviously, it seemed implausible; the notion that one can will oneself back into the past was pure fantasy but created an interesting premise for the story of this book.
Most of all though I really disliked the way the characters were portrayed. Matheson may have been attempting to portray Elise as a celebrated actress but her performance as a character in this book I found decidedly wooden.
This book won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and won critical acclaim but it simply felt lacking something for me. It may simply be that I do not read a lot of fantasy novels but time travel stories always intrigue me and I found the plot of this book interesting enough.
I am actually very keen to watch the film now because, as I suggested earlier, I think this might transfer very well to the screen. I think the characters may well appear more well-rounded in the hands of Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.
If you enjoy fantasy or romance novels you may well enjoy this novel. Judging from the amount of positive reviews there are for this book it may well be that I missed the point somewhere along the line in reading this book. The plot was an interesting one and I am certainly willing to try other books of this genre. Any suggestions anyone?
ISBN: 978 0765361394
Publisher: Tor Books
Price: £5.99 for the paperback edition from Amazon.co.uk