Friday, July 10, 2009

By the Chapter, day 3 - Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

originally published 1975, as Bid Time Return
316 pages


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.

By the Chapter is a week-long event in which Marcia and I pick a book to read together, and then discuss it. You can read Marcia's first post about this novel, as well as my first post. Be sure to stop by The Printed Page today, where Marcia will be sharing her final thoughts about Somewhere in Time.

My final thoughts:

I'm happy to say that part 2 of Somewhere in Time was immensely better, for me, than part 1. Almost as soon as Richard manages to find his way back to 1896, the story picks up. The narration becomes much smoother, and things actually start to HAPPEN, which is a nice addition to any story. I'm not sure I was ever completely drawn in to the story - something about it didn't engage me emotionally. I was anticipating a real tear-jerker, so perhaps I had created too high an expectation in my mind, but it never quite reached that level for me.

I found each of the central aspects of the novel - the time travel story, and the love story - to be interesting in their own way. The idea of time travel by hypnosis - for that is essentially what Richard does - was quite interesting. It's certainly a way to get around building a machine or some other such contraption. I'm a little bit fascinated with the idea of time travel, so I always find new author's conceptions of the phenomenon interesting, and this novel was no exception.

"That has to be the secret practicality of traveling thorough time. If Ambrose Bierce, Judge Crater, and all such disappearing people actually moved back in time, they would, by now, have no remembrance whatsoever of where they came from. Nature protects her workings. If a rule is broken or an accident occurs in the order of existence, compensation must be made, the scales brought back to level by some counterweight. In this way, the flow of historical incidence is never altered more than temporarily by anyone who circumvents time. The reason, then, no traveler has ever returned from this bourn is that it is, of natural necessity, a one-way trip."

And then there is the love story. The Greatest Love Story of Our Time. (or so they say.) I never found myself swept up in the grand romance, but rather interested in the concept Matheson explores of love being a means by which one can express their true self. I'm not sure I totally agree with the idea, but I do believe that learning to be completely honest and open with someone allows you to learn things about yourself you may not have known before. I feel like this idea might have been a new one in literature when the book was published, and I would have liked to see it explored further - unfortunately, Matheson's novel ended before that could take place.

"She began to cry. I welcomed it; I knew it meant release. She held herself against me tightly, sobbing, breathing in torturous gasps. I felt it coming all the years of harsh confinement ending. She was, at long last, unlocking the door of that subterranean dungeon in which she had kept her nature imprisoned. I could have wept along with her, so deeply overjoyed was I by her release."

I thought Somewhere in Time was a good book. I don't think it will be on my list of favorite stories of all time, but I did ultimately enjoy reading it, and found some of its ideas quite interesting. I'm looking forward to watching the movie, to see how the two compare.

Finished: 7/8/09
Source: Franklin Avenue library
Rating: 7/10

This book counts toward:


Kristen M. said...

Sounds like the book is slightly more in depth and emotional than the movie. You have to watch the movie just for the theme song ... one of cinema's classic themes. Honestly, I think the only reason I got teary during the film recently was seeing Christopher Reeve in all of his youthful glory and thinking about what eventually happened to him (although he was amazingly brave and strong!).

Marcia said...

It most certainly turned out to be a better book than I thought it would. I haven't seen the movie so I can't compare the two. Thank you for hosting with me this week. Once again I enjoyed reading along with you.

Zibilee said...

I'm glad this one got better for you. I remember last week you had said that it was slow and dragging, so it's good that it finally got back on track. I might still want to read this, or if not, see the movie.