Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne
|Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Pamela Hartshorne has given us something best described as a historic fiction ghost time-slip romance novel. It's an easier to read than to say, remaining entertaining and engrossing whilst not 'dumbing down'.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 460||Date: August 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for Romantic Novelists Association Award 2013: The Historical Romantic Novel
Grace Trewe has temporarily moved to York to sort out the affairs of her godmother, Lucy, who died suddenly. After surviving the Indonesian tsunami the previous Christmas, Grace has decided to live life to the full and plans more travelling once Lucy's house is sold. She hasn’t a care or a tie in the world, as long as she doesn't remember little Lucas back on that Christmas beach. As it turns out, that's not the only thing she needs to avoid. Strange, horrific dreams disrupt her sleep and vivid daydreams start to attack her waking moments as 21st century York keeps fading to be replaced by its 16th century streets. Grace will be fine though; it's just stress and her oddly acquired knowledge of the past is just a coincidence, or so says seemingly kindly neighbour, historian and single father Drew. Meanwhile, 500 years before, there was a woman named Hawise who met a terrible death…
The path for authors swopping between academia and historic fiction is well-trodden. There are those who have combined imagination and PhD with great success, such as Philippa Gregory and, more recently, Bruce Macbain and then there are the others. If anyone is worried about the category that Pamela Hartshorne inhabits with her PhD in Medieval history and a Mills and Boone catalogue of over 60 books (as Jessica Hart), relax, she's travelled really well. Also please cast any prejudices you may have aside; this is not an M&B book by any means.
Hawise's 16th century creeps in and out, ambushing Grace's present and includes plenty of time-relevant detail to give the story time, place and frissons of fascination that propel rather than retard. (For instance, did you know servants weren't as subordinate as we may have been led to believe?) However, there's one thing our school history lessons got right: the 16th century was an era of suspicion and superstition when healers and wise women found their skills could lead to witch trials and horrific death. Even a person's choice of friends could brand them evil by association.
The historic element is only one part of it though. In the present Grace's life bristles with reality. Although Grace is seemingly happy-go-lucky, the author subtly hints at her inner torment which grows as we come to realise the significance of Lucas. Drew, Grace's neighbour, understandably connects her nightmares and 'daydreams' with her Indonesian experiences and wants to help. However this is hindered by Grace's frustration and inability to communicate the 500 year old presence in her life. Sophie, Drew's rebellious (and very true to life) 15 year old daughter is an inspired element grows as the story builds and hurtles towards the climax with the power of an oncoming train.
By the way, in the notes at the back we're told that Hawise is pronounced Ha-wees-e, sounding so much better than Hor-wise, which is what I called her for 460 pages before realising. But, however you pronounce it, there are parallels between the two women's worlds. Grace is almost as much a victim of avoiding involvement in a settled community as Hawise is from culturally and economically having to embrace involvement with those around her.
One plea: don't be put off by the apparent predictability at the start. Eventually the most of the predictable roads end in unforeseen cul de sacs and new paths appear. The only predictable bit in fact is the end, but even then, while the set up may be foreseeable, the result isn't, keeping me on the edge of my seat till the last page. Even now the name 'Francis' makes me shudder at the memory of dark manipulation. (Not such a cryptic comment once you've read the book.) In fact, if you're the sort of person who chews fingernails when things get tense, I suggest, whilst reading this, you might want to consider mittens.
A special thank you to Pan for sending us a copy of this book for review.
If you enjoyed this, then we recommend The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, the first in her The Cousins' War series or, going further back in history, Roman Games (Plinius Secundus) by Bruce Macbain.
You can read more book reviews or buy Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne at Amazon.com.
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