This is more of a ‘heads up’ post than a review because I haven’t been able to finish The Windmill of Time by Jeffrey Goldberg. I want to be clear though – this is not because it’s a terrible novel and gets the dreaded “DNF” (Did Not Finish because it’s so crap) tag, but simply because I received the ebook and I just don’t get on with that format. I got as far as the end of Chapter 2 and realised that if I continue gluing myself to a phone for some further 350 pages or so I’m going to go insane.
So book (or phone…) down.
But from what I was able to read I thought it was turning out to be a great novel! The Windmill of Time is plugged as a “Time Travel Memoir” so there’s some intrigue – especially as there’s a story behind the story. Often time travel novels are written in the first person because they try to emulate Well’s The Time Machine. Other times, first person narrative really gives something extra to the novel that the usual 3rd person narrative doesn’t or can’t. A stronger feeling of empathy, for example. And in some cases, like Somewhere in Time, there’s a certain identification made by the author to the main character.
It is this last point which is taken to a higher level in The Windmill of Time; real life events have triggered an almost auto biographical approach to writing this novel ; you can visit Jeffery’s website with more details on this aspect here.
The difference between the “almost” and the “actual” is the fiction, and to a certain extent, the what if. (Now we’re back to The Time Machine, at least in the 2002 movie remake.)
Take note – The Windmill of Time isn’t a non fiction essay or diary of a self proclaimed time traveler, but a novel which has been initiated, at least in part, by real life events.
In the first two chapters we’re introduced to Jeffrey who’s traveled back in time to 1971 so that he can change past events and have a future with his first love (Laureen). We also find out what motivated this action (if not love itself); Jeffrey finds out in the present that Laureen has died and he’s thrown into emotional turmoil. He’ll do anything to change the past.
The prologue and two chapters I read weren’t in chronological order in terms of Jeffrey’s experience, that is we first read about Jeffrey getting prepped for the time machine, going back in time and seeing Laureen again, and then in Chapter 2 we’re in the present and feel how Jeffrey feels when he discovers his college sweet heart has died.
Personally I like this kind of jiggling around with chapter order as long as it’s clear from the outset what is going on – and it is here. I also liked being thrust into some time travel related conundrums in the first chapter; Jeffrey is back in his younger body but needs to reconcile his memories from what will become his future against what his younger self has not yet experienced.
And following chapters? Time (and reading!) will tell, but I think the outlook is good! 🙂
All author profits from sales of The Windmill of Time will be donated to Breast Cancer Research and the Susan G. Komen Foundation in memory of Laureen Tanaka-Sanders.