I’m angered, confused, frustrated and impressed all at the same time when it comes to The Time Jigsaw Deliverance!
Deliverance is the sequel to The Time Jigsaw. I haven’t read the first book, and after reading Deliverance I’m not sure whether I wish I had spent time with the first book or not; if it’s anything like Deliverance, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time. But at the same time I wonder if it would have given me an insight into what was going on.
If it weren’t for the fact that I’d committed to reading and reviewing Deliverance, it would have been a “Did Not Finish”, but I have finished it (thankfully quickly – it’s an easy read) and in a way the characters remain with me; the writing is that powerful.
The writing style is absolutely superb – it’s mostly dialogue and internal thoughts from one of three first person characters, James and Elizabeth Carsell-Brown, and James Carlisle. It’s brilliantly done, where first person thoughts help to paint both a physical picture as well as describe the mood of the time. Dialogue about seemingly mundane stuff also adds to the atmosphere.
The novel is set in 1929, and somehow reading it feels like watching an old black and white movie; I can almost see the characters conversing with each other (and with a host of supporting actors) where the action is in the words interspersed with a few key events. It has a certain enchantment to it.
Here’s the big but(t). Deliveranceis like an elephant – it’s strong, it’s powerful, but it’s incredibly slow. The difference is that an elephant packs his trunk and actually goes somewhere.
Whilst the writing style I mentioned above is excellent, I’ve got no idea what is being written about or what the central plot is. The story line (whatever it is) goes nowhere…slowly.
It’s not until 75 pages in that a hint of a plot starts to develop with the musings of a guardian angel (reminding me of Lightning by Dean Koonst) and there’s mention of a time traveler some 20 pages later – but these events are very quickly passed over, almost ignored. The candle flame of interest is snuffed out.
If this really was a movie, as I mentioned above, I’d have been able to safely leave the room and make a cup of tea, listening in from the kitchen with one ear, and come back to a plot which has hopefully progressed.
But the continued dialogue with small talk with a multitude of secondary characters made me feel I was no longer watching a black and white movie but rather reading the script of a crap soap where nothing happens. But we still watch soaps, and likewise, I still ploughed on, reading in grim determination and in the hope that something would happen.
It did, eventually. About two thirds into the book the fist person character shifts to a time traveller.
The Amazon description for Book 1 (The Time Jigsaw) indicates that James Carsell-Brown time travels from one period to another.
I didn’t get that idea in Deliverance, rather James is visited by Lori, a lady from the future with an Irish accent who is “…aware where and when certain incidents will happen”. James doesn’t seem that surprised about it. He mentions it to his wife (Elizabeth) in passing, and she pretty much talks over it.
In the last third of the novel the first person transfers to James Carlisle, aka the Coachman, who saved Elizabeth several years before, and who experiences “time shifts”. There are no insights into what he’s doing, why or how. On the penultimate page it is revealed who he saved earlier in the novel, but…so what? It isn’t a great revelation or the sewing together of any loose ends. Aaargh!
Having opted for reading Deliverance instead of watching paint dry, I was extremely disappointed that there was no elaboration on the time travel front. Actually, on any front.
So I’m really angered and frustrated – I don’t know if anything actually happened, or whether there was a clever intricate web of characters and timing and I missed it due to having not read the first book, or having key parts of the novel wash over me as my brain was numb in waiting for something to happen. Is Lori in Book 1? Are James Carsell-Brown and James Carlisle actually one and the same?
The author review on Goodreads mentions that there’s a “…time travel element in the form of an old friend’s appearance” – but who is this old friend? Lori? Who is she? She seems to disappear with James Carsell-Brown’s death. Or the coachman (James Carlisle)? But he wasn’t really a friend. I never understood who he was.
Some reviewers have noted that this novel has been well researched.
Perhaps this is the clue. My ignorance in history and historical characters is embarrassingly dismal. Laurel and Hardy make an appearance – perhaps other (famous) people do, but I just didn’t realise.
When I read it I was waiting for something to happen, and certainly by the end I was feeling very angry and frustrated that nothing actually had. But now a few days later I find myself thinking about the characters. In this way the writing is very powerful considering it only consists of dialogue.
To be honest I don’t know what further to add to this review. It’s powerful writing, but nothing happens.
1 star. Technically it’s not “crud” – see my star rating system definition below – as it’s very well written…it’s just that I don’t get what’s being written about. Maybe reading Book 1 (The Time Jigsaw) is a strict pre-requisite, and it’s my own failing (and loss) for not having done so.
Disclaimer: Although I didn’t get the story line, I did get a copy of “The Time Jigsaw Deliverance” free of charge to read and review.
| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |