|Christine Holden: A Hitch in Time|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-515-12928-3
Holden offers a couple of verifiable facts. St. Francisville, La., the site of many large plantations, exists outside of New Orleans. Workers at one of these old estates plant sugar cane in the late summer. Here end the facts, folks.
The story lacks originality. Andrew Montague stumbles across an old pocket watch engraved with his great-great-grandfather's initials in New Orleans that shunts him back to 1853. There he meets and falls in love with Marianne Beaufort, the soon-to-be-fiance of his great-great grandfather, Rafe Montague (who hates him immediately).
Andrew promptly loses the watch, stranding himself in 1853 unless he can find the watch again by the end of the summer. Andrew tells Marianne about the watch and she vows to help him find it. Yet, when she stumbles across an eerie watch at a pawnbroker's she decides to give it to Rafe and has the initials "RM" engraved on the back. It never occurs to her that this could be the same watch. I barely restrained myself from reaching into the pages and slapping the fool woman.
The summer progresses in strange chronological spurts. At various times in the story the end of summer is weeks, days or months away. For example, Marianne and Rafe set an end-of-summer wedding date, but at one point in the novel characters speak of the date as a "couple" of weeks away. A few pages later, the wedding appears to be six weeks away.
Add to this the problems with road travel. I looked it up. St. Francisville lies 118.2 miles north of New Orleans (according to Yahoo!Maps). This would take a modern car about two hours to drive. Andrew even states that it takes him around two hours to make it on his motorcycle going flat out. A fast buggy might move at five miles an hour, and even at this pace, it would take 24 hours to cover the distance. Amazingly, in Holden's world this trip takes only about six hours, easily accomplished twice in one day. Holden also sends Rafe and Marianne, on the same horse, on this journey and they make it in one night. One horse, two riders, 118.2 miles -- wow, some horse!
Holden's take on yellow fever seems a bit off as well. Andrew contracts the disease and immediately becomes jaundiced. Jaundice, as well as gum and internal bleeding occur late in the course of the disease, not at the outset.
So, you may ask, did the story contain any redeeming qualities? I found a good writing style and no obvious typos. But if you require more in a time travel romance, don't bother with this one.
Click here to share your views.