It’s not very often that I see a book on Goodreads that has over 7000 ratings and it still carries over a 4 star average!
When I got this book for review, I had read so many wonderful reviews that I couldn’t wait to start reading it!
It would be hard to put this book into a specific category as there are so many wonderful elements to it: mystery, time travel, sci fi, romance, and historic fiction!
Si Morley is working as an artist in an advertising firm when a visitor makes him a mysterious offer. Si’s life is pretty dull and he longs for something different and exciting.
This strange visitor promises more than just excitement…..he promises the greatest adventure of man kind!
This is a pretty big promise, but when Si asks for more details the man simply says he can’t really tell him anything excite he promises it is all worth it and it’s the ultimate adventure. If Si chooses to go along with the offer he does so with little to no info.
After thinking about his life and where things are at both professionally and personally, Si agrees to be part of the adventure.
Well the adventure turns out to be pretty awesome, he gets to time travel back to 1880’s New York City! Though the government wants him to travel to 1906 San Francisco instead, he picks New York City based on a 100 year old mystery in his girlfriend’s family that he hopes to solve.
Si isn’t the only one taking part in this government project, other recruits are preparing to travel to Paris and Medieval Europe. But Si is the first successful one and he continues to go back to his selected time.
The biggest challenge facing Si on his adventure is the delicate balance between interacting with the people of the era and inadvertently changing history or influencing their futures as well as his own.
This novel started off much slower than I imagined. For me Si was kind of a blank slate. He wasn’t overly interesting or stimulating for me as a reader at first. Perhaps that was the point, make him very generic so the audience could project themselves on to him? I know others have speculated that in their reviews and I came up with the same conclusion.
I was surprised that I read 150 pages before I really got into the novel. Some of the language was dated for me, and I struggled with the speed of the story significantly but I was glad that I pushed through and continued to read as the story is very innovative and wonderful.
The pictures and descriptions of New York City during that era are second to none. I loved reading about how life was in the 1880’s and reading about what was going on, clearly Finney really went to great lengths to research the novel.
Some of the descriptions were a little tedious and lengthy which bogged the story down in places but over all it wasn’t bad and definitely a ‘do-able’ read.
The one thing that frustrated me the most with the novel though was how the time travel actually worked. I don’t think it ever really was explained or if it was I just missed it but it just boggled the mind for me and I was frustrated that I didn’t understand.
I wasn’t a fan of the cover either. I know this book has recently been re-released to generate new interest in the book, but I wasn’t entirely sure the cover was ‘eye catching’ enough for me. I personally thought there was too much going on and I just didn’t find it aesthetically pleasing.
But all criticism aside this was a very very good book. The story was different and engaging with a wonderfully charming romance woven into a mysterious time travel novel.
If you like time travel books or maybe are thinking about getting into the sub-genre this is a great book to start with.
I struggled with the rating of this book immensely. I really enjoyed many aspects of the novel, the history, the pictures, the story, and concept. But there were also things I struggled with: bland main character and the overall explanation of the time travel etc.
But in general I would say this is a good read and obviously many have enjoyed the book and I can say I liked it but I didn’t LOVE it as I had hoped.
- Paperback, 400 pages
- Published February 1st 1995 by Scribner Paperback Fiction (first published 1970)
- ISBN 0684801051 (ISBN13: 9780684801056)
- Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5
Genre: Historic fiction, time travel, Victorian era lit, sci-fi
Memorable lines/quotes: NA