Special Note: This is not a Christian fiction novel but it is a clean read. There is mention of alcohol as well.
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Suspense
Publisher: Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Number of pages: 320
“When Stanley saves a man, he’s given a mysterious device that allows him to travel through time. But he soon learns that changing his past doesn’t necessary lead to a better future. Traveling over 100 years into the future may be the only way Stanley can change his fate and save his family.”
There couldn’t be a better time to begin Stanley Becker’s story than at the moment he stood on the frozen stone wall of Kingston Bridge overlooking the river Thames, breathing in the winter night and pressing the icy metal barrel of a pistol to his jaw.
I have often wondered where it would be most appropriate to begin. A few other moments come to mind, but despite the significance they play, I choose to begin Stanley Becker’s story at the approaching end of his life.
Before he found himself standing on the bridge, Stanley hadn’t contemplated what the best approach to ending his life would be, but he had assumed that a bullet to his head would be the quickest. What did he know about suicide? All he knew was that it would be rather unfortunate if he missed.
Through his misty breath, he looked down at the black waters that seemed so calm and knew it would be the perfect resting place for his worn-down body. The moment he blew his brains out, his corpse would crash down into the dark waters and conceal him from the world he was so determined to leave. Few things could be more poetic. Stanley Becker smiled. Soon he would see Jane again, holding little Maisie’s hand and grinning, just as the last time he had seen them alive.
Although Stanley Becker was about to take his life on this particular night, his thoughts lingered elsewhere, remembering the tragic event that had taken his entire reason to live. He remembered it quite vividly. Six years ago, Stanley had refused to attend the opera despite Jane’s pleading. He had stayed home to write a story that he would never finish. Unbeknownst to him then, on the same bridge where he now stood, his wife and daughter had lain sprawled in the crimson-stained snow, lifeless.
Perhaps the fact that Mr. Miller had not driven that night, but one of the drivers employed by Jane’s father, could have been the single event that sealed his family’s fate. There were other incidents that only I had been able to see as I revisited the night when everything changed, and although unclear, they nevertheless deserve some mention. Perhaps the cause had been that Jane’s father had insisted on sending his own driver, that the driver himself had had a drink too many and had failed to see the incoming collision. Or, possibly, that a street cat had darted across the street and consequently startled the horse of a carriage whose driver had had recent late nights looking for a runaway daughter, losing control only moments before the accident.
I only observed the minor events of that night, but the matter of life and death could have been the result of numerous decisions by unknowing players and (as Stanley’s mother always told him) could not have been stopped and can never be changed. I can’t help but feel sympathetic when I am reminded of this truth, however insignificant it renders us, but it would be a long time before Stanley understood the fragility of our human existence, and how crucial our resolve to ignore such realities impacts the way we play our set role.
As he presently stood on the bridge, yearning for the end to come, Stanley was comforted by the thought that he would no longer need to worry about what he could have done differently. Soon, the long, numbing, excruciating life he had led for six years would be over. He was ready for whatever awaited him in the next life, if there was any- thing waiting for him at all.
The pistol felt heavy and the cold embraced him. He wondered if attempting a suicide could be any less pleasant. As Stanley passed a hand over his eyes, he steadied himself for the big moment. The barrel pressing on his jaw was aimed straight to his brain. For a split second he wondered if it would hurt.
His gloved hand gripped the gun. His finger touched the trigger. Stanley Becker held his breath and felt the end draw near. He squeezed the trigger.
Now on to the story. Ms. Bateman often uses the narrator pov to bring the reader to certain scenes along Stanley’s journey. While I’ve read this in other books, 1) it’s rare 2) it’s a little disconcerting to me. She does try to do it in a way to create intrigue and interest in the scene she just left or the one she is going to.
This book definitely steps outside of the box, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one, time travel is a central element in this book. It’s a cool sci-fi aspect that hooks sci-fi enthusiasts. There are even references to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. (Am I showing my nerdiness?)
But I would say that’s where the similarities end. Ms. Bateman brings up the questions of is it worth it to change time? Can we and if we do, will fate just ensure the end result happens?
More than that, I think it’s a story of a man who needs to find his purpose after tragedy has impacted his life. Can he rise above and answer the call to be a better man? These questions slowly reveal themselves until the reader feels the need to find out if Stanley can save his family.
*I received a free copy via SLB tours in exchange for an honest review.