1/26/21

A Stitch in Time, by Kelley Armstrong, for Timeslip Tuesday

This week's Timeslip Tuesday book, A Stitch in Time, by Kelley Armstrong (October 2020, Subterranean Press), is one for grown-ups--along with time travel, there's a pretty hot romance (at least, I guess it's hot, but I don't know what the standard for these things is these days...), ghost story, and murder mystery.

When Bronwyn, a widowed history professor in her late 30s, inherits the old family house in Yorkshire, she is happy to leave Toronto for the summer to revisit this place she loved as a child but never visited after she was 15.  That year, there was a tragedy, and Bronwyn never went back.  But she never forgot her visits there, visits in which she played with her best friend William, and later, began to think of him as more than just a friend.

There was one small snag about this friendship--William lived in the 19th century, and no one believed that Bronwyn was traveling back in time to visit him.

So there she is, in this big old house, with memories both horrible and happy, still missing her husband something fierce....and she travels back to William's time again.  And their relationship, now one between two consenting adults, heads up pretty briskly.

The ghostly hauntings of the house also heat up.  Soon Bronwyn has become aware of four different ghosts in the house...and has to figure out what happened to them so she can lay them to rest (fortunately there's a wise woman in the local village who helps her figure out that this is what she needs to do...).  It's a lovely creepy mystery that's connected to William and his family, brining these two parts of the story nicely together.  

William and Bronwyn's romance was a bit much for my taste (it seemed too easy, but that could be explained by their shared past), but it made them happy, so good for them.  It was fun, from a time travel point of view, to see a historian of the 19th century appreciating the past directly, and interesting to see the two of them working out the complication of living in different times...neither assumes that Bronwyn would want to leave the 21st century to live in the 19th full time, so points to William for that!  And the ghosts really were nicely spooky.  There was also a time travelling kitten, which was a nice bonus. 

The house never became real to my mind's eye though, which was disappointing. because I love thick description of old houses and gardens.  I quickly rejected the Victorian house on the cover; I do not think there is anything remotely like that in rural Yorkshire (or even urban, where I lived for a year).  And I'm not convinced that Kelley Armstrong has ever stripped really old wood; like the romance, and even like the mystery solving, it all seems a tad too easy-- "There are few things in home renovation as satisfying as removing paint, watching long strips slough off in ribbons, revealing the gorgeous wood beneath." (p. 222).  Latex paint over varnished wood does this to a certain extent, but lead based paint (which I bet is what she's dealing with) does not, and the wood looks like crap until you put lots more work into it, and page 222 was a ways into her summer vacation and there's no way she's going to get it done before she goes back to Toronto....I have been stripping paint in my own house for 20 years now, and am perhaps bitter. Am also not convinced that the small Yorkshire village would sell paint stripper.

But it's pretty clear Armstrong enjoyed writing the book, and it's an enjoyable read, though not one I fell hard for.

1 comment:

  1. Good to know about but not my cup of tea. I hardly ever read adult books any more. Thanks for the post.

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