We’ve finished part two of our first book club read, The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma and had many thoughts—more than a few of them about the more, er, Harlequin-esque aspects of this bit (or maybe that’s just Alex!).
Alex: Hello ladies!
Alex: That installment was written just for me, wasn’t it?!
Laurie: Sex, sex, sex!
Stacy: And then….more sex!
Alex: Well, that’s not the only thing about it I loved…
Laurie: But a teasing approach, no?
Alex: Yes, absolutely. The narrator introducing it and saying “I won’t pry on what happens behind those doors.” I was livid!
Stacy: Ha, it was hilarious!
Laurie: OK, let’s get serious: What did you love?
Alex: So, I LOVE it when stories are told through letters and I felt this was one of the most successful examples of this I’ve ever seen.
Laurie: In what way exactly?
Alex: The way each time a letter is begun, by the end it is in a different person’s hand. So the author picks up with a new perspective. I thought it was an excellent way of sewing the characters that were embroiled in that plot together. Did you notice that LG? Every time a letter is introduced by one person’s narrative, it is picked up by someone else.
Stacy: Which made the fact that Tom couldn’t write his own letter that much more poignant, I thought.
Alex: I know! I really felt for him.
Stacy: And his keeping the flower, but giving the letters away! Aww.
Laurie: It was quite clever in many ways, that continual change of perspective.
Alex: Which is weird because he’s really just a player, but I was completely manipulated by him, because he fell in love with her in the end.
Stacy: I feel like I should have hated him for being such a player, but he was so tragic.
Alex: He still lied about EVERYTHING. And tricked Claire into loving him…I’ll forgive anything that ends in an embrace. Haha. I love how the sex scenes actually were a chance to show how emancipated Claire is.
Laurie: I have to admit, I didn’t quite buy into the whole thing. Which is unusual for me. I’m totally a “suspend your disbelief” kind of girl.
Stacy: I don’t think someone’s circumstances should excuse their behaviour (in real life or in books), but his whole life was just the saddest thing.
Laurie: But I just couldn’t see the two of them together in the end.
Stacy: That Claire would ignore all the social mores of the time and sleep with him?
Alex: Interesting LG. I know, I think this book is demanding that of me from start to finish Not only that, SLK, but that she would delight in the pleasures of the flesh and be naked with him, which was unheard of even, and through her openness, Wells and his wife were in turn brought closer together physically and emotionally. I know, LG, me neither.
Laurie: Not so much that Claire would ignore the social mores and sleep with him — he was hot, after all, and this is a fantasy – but let’s face it, in the long run, the guy could barely write. He only fell in love with her in some ways because he fell in love with the story. And I think I was set up by the mention of Claire in Andrew’s section at the beginning — I thought she would end up with Andrew somehow. Loved the Jane and HG bit, though!!!
Alex: Yeah, me too… maybe she does. Theirs was like the real-life relationship.
Stacy: Confession: I still think she’ll end up with him somehow. Because seriously? That lie has to come out. Palma can’t set her up as this smart, modern woman and then let her get taken in by this lie, can he?
Laurie: They were both quite shallow about the whole “love” end of things. In fact, I’m finding all the “love” in this novel shallow. But the time travel stuff is fun and mind twisting, and it’s still all engaging.
Alex: True, I think she’s more shallow that she cares to admit.
Stacy: Speaking of the time travel, I’m so disappointed that nothing’s been real so far!
Laurie: It’s true!! I was so sucked in by the whole time travel think and bought it, hook, line and sinker. And so far, nada!!!!!
Alex: And I kind of liked that their love scenes by comparison were not overly recorded.
Laurie: Alex keeps going back to the sex….
Stacy: She never really left. Lol.
Alex: Well, there was NO time travel in the end, was there?
Stacy: Fair point, AL, fair point.
Laurie: Now if it was sex on the time machine, we’d be talking!
Stacy: WAIT. There was sex on the time machine!
Laurie: I stand corrected!
Alex: My BF did tell me when I was complaining about lack of sex: “You do know you’re reading the wrong kind of book?” he said.
Stacy: Well, “time machine…”
Alex: I think for me, I like that we had to buy into the time machine thing.
Laurie: Palma has been very clever, so far, wouldn’t you say? He’s totally pulled us in with his old sleight of hand.
Alex: Because we’re in the same position as the Victorian masses.
Alex: Absolutely. And I feel like one of the audience members. Like I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes just like they did. It makes it so much more believable because I was expecting it to be true. (And I credit myself with so much, clearly…)
Laurie: I keep asking myself how I could have been so gullible, but, of course, I set myself up for it.
Stacy: Well, the synopsis said time travel!
Alex: Sadly, we are not the most gullible, though. Claire is.
Laurie: I keep thinking, though, two things: what will Claire do when she realizes that Tom’s writing is different than that on the letters and that he has no scar on his stomach?
Stacy: I had a hard time believing that she would believe any of it.
Alex: I found that a little unbelievable too. His face is all covered in blood and one minute he’s almost dead — and then they’re making out.
Stacy: Even the part in the letter where she’s saying “I looked for the scar but was so nervous I couldn’t find it!”
Alex: I think also Palma has placed us in this state of altered acceptance.
Laurie: Tom’s smart, though. He’ll just say, “In the future, we heal faster!” Oh, come on, Alex, you’d be all over him, too!
Alex: Haha. Really? All crusty and bloody? And he was drowning and then he seriously sniffed his way to her house? C’mon. It’s kind of symbolic, though, I guess.
Laurie: It’s fantasy, girls, fantasy!
Stacy: Although after being beaten half to death and the almost-drowning, still not believable.
Alex: I know! I guess I need to get behind this a little more.
Stacy: But like Wells said to Murray — it has to be conceivable!
Laurie: I loved when he said, “Thank you, Solomon” after almost drowning.
Stacy: Me, too!
Stacy: And then the other guy was like, “Um, this is a diving suit.” Something about that made me laugh.
Laurie: OK. Other criticism?
Alex: I would only say this: Part 2 felt slightly rushed. Compared to the pacing of Part 1, I think that’s what made it seem slightly less believable.
Stacy: I so agree! I didn’t like this part as much as Part 1.
Alex: I think that’s why I found myself questioning it, because the rest of the time I’d been prepared for it and subconsciously I felt things evolving at a pace that camouflaged less credible parts. It got a bit Romeo and Juliet all of a sudden there.
Stacy: Here, there was so much going on and so many threads to hang onto, and I think Palma lost a few of them.
Alex: Maybe he just got excited about them getting it on?
Stacy: Probably. That felt like the most — ahem — fleshed-out part.
Laurie: And I felt it dragged: the whole surface of time/reed people thing seemed to go on too long, and I found the Cronotilus bit not so interesting, in terms of them walking around the ruins, in circles as it turned out. I think he’s actually been quite brilliant with the “threads.” I’d need a storyboard to keep it all straight.
Stacy: I think he hasn’t done a bad job, but there were a times that I was like, “Wait—what about…?”
Alex: I loved how Wells and Murray were interlinked. Murray really came alive in that story.
Laurie: Such a sinister character!
Alex: I know! Such a worm!
Stacy: They’re the common thread through everything so far… And I liked how we found out who the mysterious figure that Andrew saw in the night actually was!
Alex: I thought he did a pretty good job keeping the threads together, which probably means Palma directed my attention where he wanted it.
Stacy: Those connections between parts 1 and 2 were my favourite, otherwise it would have felt too jarring.
Laurie: Palma is quite magician like.
Alex: Also, the violence was quick and vivid! I fell for that scene hook line and sinker. Which might be why I have a problem believing Tom could walk after the beating.
Laurie: I could see it being filmed…
Stacy: Me, too. I’m already pondering who should play whom.
Laurie: Where next do you think?
Stacy: I am BITTER that there’s no time travel for real — maybe in Part 3 we find out it actually is possible?
Alex: Again, Palma is manipulating us. In the same way people of that day were blind to this, that and the other, we’re completely at his mercy. And somehow, still wishing the time travel actually happened. I have NO idea what to expect next. But I do have an inkling it will involve fake time travel.
Stacy: My head is telling me one thing and my heart something else. I feel the truth has to come out somehow. Also: not a clue about who the narrator is yet.
Laurie: I still would like Claire and Andrew to get together, but that would leave Tom out in the cold. And there should be HG and his skinny body.
Alex: Haha. He’s riding a bike — maybe he’ll get buff. Tom will become his personal trainer.
Stacy: But buff enough to compete with Tom and his 6 hour walks? Lol.
Laurie: It’s so funny how the narrator/author/whoever keeps pointing out how annoyed HG is whenever a finer physical specimen shows up.
Stacy: I know! Wasn’t that his first problem with Murray? Before he read the book and thought it was crap.
Alex: Hilarious — he has such an ego!
Laurie: HG needs to go stroke his basket.
Stacy: For inspiration.
Laurie: Only in your mind, naughty girl!
Alex: Blame the author!!!!
Laurie: So in the next section we have the hopes of: time travel, buff HG, sex and more sex. Anything else?
Stacy: A Claire/Andrew meeting? The truth coming out? But only if Tom somehow rises above it somehow and is redeemed — I really do have a soft spot for the guy. And I’m seconding the time travel!
Alex: I want Claire to be happy, though. And if that means kicking Tom to the curb, then so be it. She needs a real man who can write his own love letters!
Stacy: I want her to be as grown up and savvy as she thinks she is!
Alex: Yeah… She’s kind of little sisterly, eh?
Stacy: Totally. I just want her to — sniff — grow up and be strong!
Laurie: Yes, Claire deserves better.
Alex: It’s kind of an insult to women. She’s the most emancipated and intelligent woman — smart enough to denounce what all other women just accept and then she ends up being totally sucked in by these conniving men.
Laurie: Yes! She just falls for a guy cause he’s from the future and cute. What?? Hey! Another thing I forgot to ask about: Jack the Ripper!!! Found and hanged! What??? (Realize I’m going back to Part 1 here, but…)
Stacy: AL — Yes, yes, I totally agree! And re Jack: Interesting that someone was caught and hanged. But we now know that one of Murray’s boys was playing the part. So…
Laurie: But Murray’s boy wasn’t the one caught and hanged…And Jack the Ripper was never caught, no?
Alex: Hmmm…no he wasn’t. They never found him. And the problem was all those copycats posing as him.
Stacy: That’s something that hopefully will be resolved in Part 3.
Laurie: Creepy. A loose thread…Something else to be wrapped up in Part 3, so adieu till then.
Alex: I’m excited for Part 3.
Stacy: Me, too 🙂
Alex: Same time next week, then 😉
Laurie: Ta, ta!