Tag Archives: time travel

Book review: The Lives She Left Behind

James LongThere was a novel about time-travelling love before The Time Travellers Wife. It is called Ferney, written by James Long, and to my mind is far superior. The Lives She Left Behind is the sequel.

When I finished Ferney, I couldn’t imagine how the story could continue. After all, we’d worked out how the time travel worked and what the relationship implications and difficulties were. I feared that a sequel would be a let-down, some books are just meant to be stand-alone novels. I am pleased to say I was wrong. The Lives She Left Behind is as heart-wrenching as the first, combined with a thriller element involving murder and sexual assault. Misunderstandings across the centuries, modern policing methods and contemporary parenting, all combine to make the lives of Ferney and Gally difficult. Ferney explains his connection with Gally: ‘Our halves are nothing on their own but half and half make one and halves, divided, stand alone when the adding’s done.’

The second book can be read on its own, but I do urge you to read Ferney first. Both novels are infused with the Somerset countryside and the history of England. Ferney and Gally remember the old names of roads, remember when the tiny plantation of trees was an entire wood, when kings had different names.

Three teenage girls go on their first archaeological dig, not knowing what to expect. Into their lives falls a teenage boy on a bike, pulled to that location by some force within himself. The action moves to the ancient village of Pen Selwood as Ferney and Gally find each other again. James LongTo read my review of Ferney, click here.

James Long

[photo: AM Heath]

Click here to listen to James Long [above] talk about his writing process on You Tube.

If you like this, try:-
‘In Another Life’ by Julie Christine Johnson
‘Please Release Me’ by Rhoda Baxter
‘Outline’ by Rachel Cusk

‘The Lives She Left Behind’ by James Long [UK: Simon and Schuster] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LIVES SHE LEFT BEHIND by James Long #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1cy

Book review: The Seventh Miss Hatfield

the seventh miss hatfield by anna caltabiano 26-7-14The action opens with the auction of a painting in 1887 and then switches to 1954 as a girl sits on a doorstep. Cynthia is 11 and aware of her mother’s demands for good behaviour combined with initiative, knowing she is a disappointment. So when a parcel is wrongly delivered, she shows independence by taking it to the house opposite. There she meets a new neighbour, Rebecca Hatfield. Cynthia doesn’t go home again.

This is a tale of immortality and time travel. Where immortality means you can still die, of illness or accident, and time travel comes via a large mysterious clock owned by Miss Hatfield. Cynthia – and it is key that we are told her original name only a few times – drinks a glass of lemonade containing a drop of a mysterious substance and everything changes. “I felt as if I was slipping away into some strange dimension where I recognized nothing – not my surroundings, or my feelings, but most terrifyingly of all, not even myself.” Miss Hatfield has a task for Cynthia to do, a task which involves theft and time travel. The task, of course, does not go to plan.

The fine detail is excellent but I found the bigger picture lacking, as if the author was carried away by Cynthia/Margaret’s flirtation with Henley and lost sight of the where this fit into the flow of the narrative. I was impatient for the mystery to move on. Cynthia/Margaret is a girl things happen to, rather than her being a proactive heroine. She spends quite a lot of time waiting for the time to be right, waiting for things to settle down, before she can complete her task. I just wanted her to get on with it. She accepts her new life with minimal heartache or disbelief, demonstrates little longing for her parents and the life she left in 1954 and no cynicism about what Miss Hatfield tells her. She ages instantly from teenager to adult, but we are shown none of the insight this would bring as so ably demonstrated in the film BigAnna Caltabiano 26-7-14Then I did a bit of Googling and found out that Anna Caltabiano [above] is 17, and I understood. When I read a book for review, I read with a notebook and pen by my side and quite early on I wrote down ‘feels like a young author?’ Despite the ‘literary’ front cover, this is a book written by a teenager for teenagers about young love. If I had known, I would not have chosen to read it and I became a bit more forgiving of the writing style. Another example of a cover design being misleading.

That this novel was written by a 17-year old is admirable and explains the style: lots of explanation of the action of the ‘I understood Henley did this because…’ style. Lots of re-stating the obvious, which should have been edited out. It is clear that Caltabiano was in love with Henley.

This is the first novel of a trilogy. I think I’m too old to read the others, it’s a long time since I was a teenager. But if you know one who likes stories about puppy love combined with time travel, they’ll probably love this. Caltabiano is a talented writer and I will watch out for future novels, but in a few years’ time.

For Anna Caltabiano’s website, click here.

‘The Seventh Miss Hatfield’ by Anna Caltabiano [pub in the UK on Jul 31, 2014 by Gollancz]

#BookReview ‘Ferney’ by James Long #romance #timetravel

I missed this book by James Long when it was first published in 1998 and so came to it with some anticipation. I was not disappointed. Set on the Somerset/Dorset border, Ferney tells the interlinking tale of Gally, her husband Mike and elderly countryman Ferney. It’s difficult to review without giving away too much of the story, suffice to say it combines modern and ancient love stories in a setting so evocative of this mythical magical part of the world. It makes you believe in the power of true love. James Long

Young couple Mike and Gally find a rundown cottage at Penselwood and move into an old caravan next door while the builders renovate. The countryside seems to dispel Gally’s nightmares and her sadness at a miscarriage, in fact the countryside seems to be a character in itself and is an integral part of the story. History, folklore and nature are woven into a love story across the centuries.

I know I will read it again and again, it is an uplifting story stuffed with history from Saxon times via witchcraft and rebellions. Just when you think you have worked it out, something unexpected happens. It is tender, touching, and right up until the last page you wonder how the story will be resolved.

Read my review of the sequel to Ferney, The Lives She Left Behind.

If you like ‘Ferney’, try these novels:-
‘Master of Shadows’ by Neil Oliver
‘The Beekeeper’s Daughter’ by Santa Montefiore
‘In Another Life’ by Julie Christine Johnson

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
FERNEY by James Long http://bit.ly/27mExE6 #bookreview via @SandraDanby