Wednesday, July 8, 2009

By the Chapter, day 2 - Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

By the Chapter is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. This week, I am cohosting with her, and we are reading and discussing Somewhere in Time.


Like What Dreams May Come, which inspired the movie starring Robin Williams, Somewhere in Time is the powerful story of a love that transcends time and space, written by one of the Grand Masters of modern fantasy.

Matheson's classic novel tells the moving, romantic story of a modern man whose love for a woman he has never met draws him back in time to a luxury hotel in San Diego in 1896, where he finds his soul mate in the form of a celebrated actress of the previous century. Somewhere in Time won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and the 1979 movie version, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, remains a cult classic.

My thoughts:

I'm just over 1/3 of the way through the novel, and I think things are starting to get interesting. In Marcia's first post, she noted that she is struggling with the narrative style, and is finding the story a bit slow-going. So far I haven't had a problem with the narration - it's first person, from the perspective of Richard, who has booked a room in a hotel in 1971, seen a picture of a woman from 1896, and decided he's in love with her and must go back in time to be with her. The book is styled to be his recollection of the events, so it's as if we are reading his notes from that time, as they happen, in a stream-of-consciousness style. I tend to like first person narratives, and enjoy a bit of an unreliable narrator, so I'm finding Richard's voice to be engaging so far.

As far as the story goes, however, I'm with Marcia - it's definitely a bit slow. In 100+ pages we've only managed to progress 5 apparently, we get to read every detail of his day, as it occurs. Some of it is interesting, but it seems to be a lot of the same thing over and over - he's obsessed with the woman, wants to find out everything he can about her, reads a bunch, repeat. Right now, it's my anticipation of the great story to come that is keeping me reading. And ***spoiler alert*** I've just now gotten to the part where he manages to break through into 1896, so things should start to get good now, if they're going to. YAY!

So, I'm not overly impressed so far, but I'm still holding out hope. I mean, it can't have won a World Fantasy Prize for nothing, right? (Although, honestly, isn't time travel more sci-fi??) Anyway, I have also just realized that I can use this story for the Book-to-Movie comparison portion of the Take a Chance challenge, so you can probably look forward to a movie review at some point in the near future, as well.

Be sure to stop by here AND The Printed Page on Friday - Marcia and I will both have our final thoughts on the novel posted. Will it get better? Will we both want to chuck it against the wall? Stay tuned...


Zibilee said...

Initially this sounded like something I would really enjoy, and it got bonus points for being an award winner. After reading this review though, I am not sure I would like it because I generally have a problem with books that move too slowly. I will be waiting to read your final thoughts on this book, maybe I will reconsider if the later half turns around. Thanks for your honest thoughts on this one.

Marcia said...

Here's what I like about By the Chapter: usually we agree and we feel the same about the book we're reading. We might not be exact agreement but we're close. Getting into 1896 makes a difference in the storytelling style and the story itself. It picks up considerably and turns out to be rather good book.