From Time to Time
Simon Morley is content living in the 1880's with his wife, Julia, and young son, Willy. But something is nagging at him. He feels he must return to New York City in his time, about 100 years later. After some soul searching and discussions with Julia, he does.
Once again Reuben Prien searches him out although Si went to visit the scientist behind the Project, Dr. Danzinger. Dr. D wants the past to remain as it is. He strongly feels we shouldn't try to change it. Rube is with the government and the military. He believes that if Si were to travel to 1912, he could prevent World War I.
Rube has a charismatic personality and truly believes Si could change a large historical event. Eventually Si agrees, especially since Willy is of an age he could be part of that war. He travels back the river of time to 1912 New York City. He looks for the mysterious Z, a man who carries papers to Europe on behalf President Roosevelt and President Taft. Rube knows that Z never finished the mission. Si goes to try to get the job completed. Before he is done, he finds himself sailing on the ill-fated ship, the Titanic.
Once again Jack Finney brings the past to life. His descriptions of 1912 feel real. I marveled when I thought of the women's hats he described. They were extremely wide (I remember 10 feet, but it must have been 10 inches...). He captured the music of the time, original vaudeville, and the feel of New York City. Si looked on it all as a spectator or an audience. The buildings still weren't overly tall, although now there was electricity and elevators. Si would compare New York City to both his and Julia's time and to the future New York that he had known.
Unfortunately, the story is slow. It takes almost half the book before Si travels back to 1912. First Finney had to undo the end of the first novel, Time and Again. I thought the way he handled that was cunning. I enjoyed the book, but never was pulled in. I could put it down and not pick it up for a couple days. (We were moving while I was reading this book, so a day or two could go by before I could pick it up and read again.)
Finney threw in one side story line that added to Si's overall character. While in 1912 he was attracted to a woman he nicknamed the Jotta Girl. She was also attracted to him and subtly offered herself to him. Si has an internal ethical struggle as he wants to stay true to Julia. The attraction is strong and he knows that he isn't going to "get caught". What is a man to do?
If you haven't read Time and Again, you won't appreciate From Time to Time as much. While not as good as the first book, it is a nice sequel with another snapshot of historical New York City.
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