At first glance, this doorstop of a book may seem like a hefty read, yet split into three perfectly proportioned mini-adventures with twists and turns aplenty, the pages will turn at quite a pace.
The book opens in 1888 and follows Andrew Harrington, a young man from a reputable family, who has fallen in love with a Whitechapel prostitute. When she is murdered by Jack the Ripper, Harrington is lost and with the guidance of his best friend, he resorts to time travel in an attempt to save his love from her grisly fate. Appearances from real-life characters such as Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells add clout to the tale, andPalma’s clever yet understated humour ensures readers stay entertained.
Although some will think the style of writing a tad archaic, or may find themselves distracted by the author’s sometimes abrupt first-person interventions into the story, the translation of the book from the original Spanish is to be commended, and it is full to the brim of beautiful prosaic passages: “Not even the touch on the skin of the delicious breeze heralding the arrival of summer, nor caressing a woman’s body, nor sipping Scotch whisky in the bathtub until the water goes cold…”
Like a whimsical game of cross-genre hopscotch, The Map of Time skips effortlessly between romance, time travel, history and crime. In the process, Palma has created an enticing and unique novel that will appeal to many, and proves difficult to put down.