elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Time After Time by J.P. Bowie

Michael is an average American gay guy with a loving and supporting family (even if small, he has only his brother and his sister in law) and a distant boyfriend, Steve. Actually it's quite strange, usually it's the family that is distant, but here I believe, it serves to the author to prove that Michael's bindings with his past (represented by his family) are stronger than the ones he forged with his American boyfriend. More, recently Michael is having strange and erotic dreams where he loves another man, Jonathan, and they are very real; but in his dreams Michael is an English man, living in the period before and soon after the WWII. Jonathan is a childhood friend turned lover, and he is too real to be only a figment of his imagination. Conveniently, at the same time when he is dreaming of this handsome man, the estranged boyfriend, Steve, is once again away for business, and doesn't worry to let Michael knowing that he is missed.

On the other hand, when Michael talks of Jonathan, the man of his dreams, with his brother Brad, instead of being scorned of pushed to let a dream go, he is encouraged, Brad sees Michael's dream man like a symptom that Michael is not happy in his present relationship, and maybe it helps also that Brad doesn't like so much Michael's boyfriend, Steve. Brad is a very nice character, but he is only a side one. He has a very nice scene, the beginning one, during which we can understand Michael, his insecurities, his love for his brother and sister in law, his need to be love. Michael is a gentle soul, he doesn't ring me like a very authoritative man, more like someone who follows the path of someone else more daring and stronger in will. In his dream with Jonathan, the other Michael, the English one, is exactly like that: he is daring since his lover Jonathan is daring, Michael is loyal and honest, but a bit on the quiet side. Jonathan instead is a charismatic man, a born leader.

Then Michael discovers that he is the heir of a country estate in England and of 5 million pounds. Lionel, the man who dying left him all his properties, was living in Bedford Park, the previous estate of Jonathan Harcourt; Jonathan was a young man who disappeared soon after the WWII and his lover Michael committed suicide soon after. Michael's parents emigrated in America and had another daughter who is today Michael's mother. Lionel wished to leave the estate, Bedford Park, to Michael with only a request, that he finds out what really happened to Jonathan, since it appears that Jonathan's ghost is haunting the house, but in a very benign way: Jonathan's ghost is sad and apparently in search of something.

So everything seems to click on the right way. Michael is obviously the reincarnation of the old Michael, and what he is dreaming by night are not dreams but past memories. Even the fact that the old Michael committed suicide rings right with what we knew of Michael at that moment, someone who prefers to follow the lead of a stronger man, the old Michael, after the loss of his lover, had not the force to react and move one. But really, right when I was reading that, and mulling in my head that explanation, something didn't fit... even if old Michael / today Michael are not strong men, they are men in love, and from a romantic perspective, I would have preferred to see old Michael fights to find out what happened to his lover; maybe, AFTER he found out, only then it would have been possible for him to commit suicide, but not before. I can understand that, with his lover dead, Michael didn't see any reason to live, but not when there was still out there who killed his lover.

Like that, it seems not possible for this one to be an happily ever after love story, at least not in an ordinary way: Michael's is the reincarnation of a dead man whose lover is still a mourning ghost. How could they have an happily ever after together? But when Michael relocates to Bedford Park, he meets Jonathan Robertson, very real and not a ghost; Jonathan lives in Cambridge and he himself, like Michael, is dreaming of the old Michael and Jonathan. The new Jonathan is a friendly, handsome and very funny man; he is tender and caring with Michael, the perfect dream man. But Jonathan's the ghost is real, both Michael than new Jonathan see him. And I stop here since, if you want to know what it happens, you have to read the book. It's enough to say that, with this development of the story, the mood of the book shifts from sad to almost light, and also my doubts on old Michael's suicide were right and will be answered in the right way: even if old Michael and today Michael are not leader, they are not weak men, and they know how to fight for their love and lovers.

The novel is surprisingly light and easy to read, despite being almost 300 pages long. The paranormal elements are not so strong to define this book as a strictly paranormal, and all in all, I will define it more a contemporary love story with a paranormal help from the past. Michael's character is very much like you would expect from an all American boy transplanted in old country England, and the today Jonathan is a friendly and happy man, who enjoys to tease a bit the maybe naive Michael. So yes, the mood of the story is lighter than expected, and I have to say that I like it better in this way.

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Tags: author: j.p. bowie, genre: paranormal, length: novel, review, theme: ghosts
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