Wednesday, 22 July 2015

If I Could Turn Back Time - Beth Harbison

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty. 

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: "Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time..." 

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

One of the things I love to read is time travel novels - and I have read a lot. So I think of myself as a hard to please reader in this genre as mostly I've read it all before.

So I was pleasantly surprised when this book took a different tack with the whole time travel idea. Instead of Ramie waking up as her current self in another time, she wakes up as her teenage self. This also gives a different slant in that she can now see things through the eyes of an adult which maybe first time around her teenage eyes didn't pick up on.

One of the things that rang true for me was when Ramie has to go to school and she doesn't know what her timetable of classes is - this is a dream I have had a lot in the past! Luckily for her it is soon rectified and apart from some references to email and mobile phones she seems to get on fine in the past. Especially as she can remember the events - and can she change them?

Ramie also goes on a tour of her neighbourhood just so she can relive things that no longer exist in the present, such as restaurants etc. On a side note the British Film Institute have just released online films of everyday life. For me watching a trip through my home city on a tram in 1902 was the closet I will get to time travel. So I really identified with what Ramie was doing.

The book certainly had me thinking - what if and a different road travelled al a "Sliding Doors". There's a neat twist and as always I am saying no more for want of spoiling the plot.

The book is out on 28 July 2015 and my thanks go to Negalley and St Martins Press for supplying me with an advance e copy to review.

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