Friday, July 4, 2014

HH Review - Time After Time by Wendy Godding

Title: Time After Time
Author: Wendy Godding
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Language: English

A tale of past lives intruding into the present, of lovers reincarnated over and over until they resolve their centuries-old dilemma.

Seventeen year old Abbie Harper lives in the twenty-first century, but she dreams of multiple previous incarnations – all of whom were murdered before they turned eighteen. Currently she is reliving that of Penelope Broadhurst, daughter of a Yorkshire parson in 1806. Abbie desperately hopes that this reincarnation will be different and that the silver-eyed stranger will not kill as he has done so many times before. Things become much worse when people Abbie thought existed only in her past begin to appear in the present, when, as Abbie reports in the opening line, “my nightmare moved into the house next door.”

On the surface, Marcus Knight hardly seems nightmare material. He has melting chocolate eyes, floppy hair, the physique of one who works out daily, and so of course quickly achieves popularity – except with Abbie. Nevertheless, he repeatedly attempts to befriend this prickly, Gothic-attired, social reject of the local high-school. But is he motivated by genuine interest or the compulsions of a previous unresolved life? As Abbie dreams on, living Penelope’s life in nightly instalments, she discovers that Marcus is the reincarnation of Heath Lockwood and that he and Penelope fell deeply in love.

And then the silver-eyed stranger arrived and the nightmare begins.

Wendy Godding weaves a complex and intriguing story, with viewpoints alternating between the early twenty-first century (Abbie) and 1806 (Penelope). I loved the 1806 Yorkshire Moors setting, the parsonage and manor clearly echoing the Bronte sisters’ Haworth and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre too is cleverly woven into the story, as Abbie studies the text in school and empathises closely with the unwanted and orphaned yet artistic Jane. Both Abbie and Penelope find refuge in their respective attics, and Abbey starts to wonder whether she is more Madwoman-in-the-Attic than a sane Jane.

The author has created a wonderful character in Abbie. It initially forms a stark contrast to that of Penelope. Modern Abbie has a biting wit and is not afraid to make sharp (and hilarious) comments. Nineteenth-century Penelope is a sweet and proper parson’s daughter. Abbie wears black lipstick, and heavy eye-makeup. She favours vintage clothing, torn tights, and multiple earrings. But it turns out that this is a mask, Abbie’s defence or even disguise against becoming yet another innocent victim of the silver-eyed man.

I can quite honestly say I loved this novel. It was quite impossible to put down once I’d reached halfway. (I got to sleep past 1 o’clock last night because of you, Wendy!) I loved the density of reference to Bronte novels, the 1809 setting, the intricate plot, and the complexity of Abbie’s character.

While this novel appears to be aimed at a young adult audience, I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, the Brontes, an English historical setting, or simply a novel you can’t bear to put down.

Countess of Jersey

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