My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Note: I received a copy of this text in exchange for an honest review.
When you sit down to read this book be prepared for a light hearted look at accidental time travel, unexpected romance, a well-envisioned and researched glimpse into the past, and a liberal dose of humor across the board.
This was a fun read that kept me turning the pages, waiting to find out what happened next … or previously … depending on how you perceive the time spectrum. Charlie Lowe, an introvert who happens to be from current times but might as well belong to a bygone era some two hundred years ago for all her intimate knowledge of Stoneford Village where she lives, accidentally manages to travel back in time via a computer virus and quantum mechanics. In the course of doing so she switches places with an ancestor with almost the exact same physical likeness, a Mrs. Catherine Collins. Both women are widows of five years, Charlie losing her husband in a car accident and Mrs. Collins’ husband to a loss at sea.
This switch plunges Charlie straight into her family’s history. A near-expert on her genealogy and those of the families living in Stoneford Village, Charlie swiftly adapts to the change in time, assuming the identity of Mrs. Collins for the sake of ease. Her adaptation is queerly aided by the mysterious presence of a Wi-Fi signal transmitted by the village’s Great Oak, received by her Smartphone which has made the trip with her (but she has no charger, nor is there electricity anyway) – a precious anomaly that enables her to stay in touch with the future and her cousin Nick, a quantum physicist.
This switch also transplants the real Mrs. Collins from 1825 to 2013 but because she looks exactly like Charlie no one believes she’s actually someone from the past. Nick and Charlie’s family think she’s gone on a mental vacation after vandalizing the office of Reg Ferryman, one of the brothers currently trying to bulldoze the village in order to build high priced housing, etc. The truth isn’t realized until Charlie makes contact with Nick via cell phone and a two hundred year old Wi-Fi transmitter.
I loved the back and forth of this book as we hop from Charlie’s perspective in the past to Nick’s perspective in the present. Kent explores the potential for paradox through Charlie’s hesitancy to meddle in the affairs of her forebears only to discover that (LOST fans will relate to this) “What happened, happened.” It’s only a matter of understanding the how and why events occurred the way they did, and being able to witness it first-hand puts much of Charlie’s knowledge into perspective. It’s in this first-hand witnessing that Charlie has the opportunity to make right several wrongs (without tampering with facts as recorded two hundred years in the future) and make a profound and personal connection with her ties to the village.
Mrs. Collins (the real Catherine) had me cracking up at every turn. Her naiveté is charming; she’s almost like an overgrown child thrown into the middle of a world she can barely imagine let alone understand. Technology is naturally a wonder to her but she embraces it, quickly becoming addicted to reality television, music played on an iPod, imbibing a pot brownie, etc. One might question the ease at which she adjusts but Stoneford Village hasn’t changed much in two hundred years. The buildings remain the same; it’s only the people (and technology) that are different.
There’s a great mystery in all of this time travel, the resolution of which brought about a pleased satisfaction. Charlie’s unexpected romance with Mr. Deeley is a rewarding element, helping Charlie heal from the loss of her husband. Winona Kent delivers a well rounded novel in Persistence of Memory. Well worth the read, I recommend it to anyone looking for a light read that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still chock full of historical fact woven into wonderful storytelling.