Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigage purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. What happens if we change history?
My review: I feel so sorry for those other readers who haven't enjoyed The Map of Time because they couldn't make it past the large number of pages, unusual third-person POV that insists on making extraneous comments, and loosely connected division of the novel. The number of pages, though it could have easily been cut down by cutting out information not directly pertinent to the story, didn't bother me. The Map of Time is not a book to be breezed through, but Palma's wonderful writing hardly makes it a tough, slow, boring read either. The narrator, who occasionally interjects commentary, adds a bit of humor to the story (there are also little satirical and humorous notes added in other ways) and has a certain purpose revealed only at the end. As to the division of the novel into three distinctly individual stories, while unexpected, it is not unpleasant.
The Map of Time is definitely a unique and surprising book (and I'll try not to rant incoherently about its awesomeness). Its three stories are not what readers expect from the back cover and other plot synopses - at times I was wondering when H.G. Wells and the sci-fi bits were going to appear - but this does not subtract from how wonderful they are. Palma makes the Victorian era interesting, working in historical tidbits and occasionally adding humor as well, poking fun at historical personages, events, customs, and even himself. In some ways, the first two parts of the book can be considered an exercise in the gullibility of both readers and the Victorian English populace as Palma investigates various methods of time travel, but the novel is still highly enjoyable. It's not for every reader (see the first paragraph of my review), but hopefully many others will be able to get wrapped up in Palma's narratives. This is a book that readers can lose themselves in for hours.
I was under the impression that this was a stand alone novel, but apparently it's part of a trilogy. When I discovered this, I came about as close to jumping up and down in joy as I've ever done over a book.
Maturity Factor: Some sex and adult situations.
My ARC of The Map of Time was received from the publisher, Atria Books. First published in Spain in 2008, Atria's English translation (translator: Nick Caistor) goes on sale June 28, 2011. I suggest you buy it. Immediately.
And...cover wars! I like this cover more, what about you?