This deeply insightful novel features a compelling character, Catherine Hillery, a biographer investigating the life of British war hero Neil Campion. The investigative aspect of the plot reminded me of The DaVinci Code, only Deceits of Time is perhaps less sensational though no less engrossing. But my comparison to The DaVinci Code is only superficial. Deceits of time has greater depth and intellectual dimension, as in Dan Brown's book the characters move from sensational discovery to sensational discovery without really growing much. In Deceits of Time, the characters are changed by what they discover. I think that in a way, the novel is a salute to the biographer's art in that at times the characters are presented in the manner that a biographer would, as lives under examination. I do not feel this detracts from the narrative but rather it was enjoyable and innovative, and fitting for a novel concerning biography and all that it involves, such as the past, truth, meaning, and perception. Colegate also employs an old literary device I haven't seen in modern literature since Isak Dinesen, that of placing anecdotes within anecdotes, or stories within stories. It's not an easy thing to execute, but Colegate does it quite deftly here.
As the novel concerns the close examination of the past, the past is one of the major themes here: how people remember pain, their failures, successes and their ideals--how we remember who we were. History figures also, as some characters consider what England might have been like if history had been different, if Monmouth had won instead of King James all those centuries ago. What if things had been different? What if things were different now? And isn't that the compulsion of all romantics, to make things different? That is the compulsion behind Neil Campion at any rate, and the reason why he does what he does, which I will not give away here. Expect a compelling academic mystery, innovative characterization, a masterful command of literary art, and fabulous British prose. If this novel did not win any prizes, I feel it should have.
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; New edition edition (31 May 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140119337
- ISBN-13: 978-0140119336
- Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 1.2 x 14.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 159 g
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