- Mass Market Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reissue edition (1 September 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765361396
- ISBN-13: 978-0765361394
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.1 x 17.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Somewhere in Time Mass Market Paperback – 1 Sep 2008
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"The author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson." --Stephen King
"Stylish and gripping, [Richard Mathsons's] stories not only entertain but touch the mind and heart." --Dean Koontz
"Richard Matheson is one of the most respected living American fantasy/science fiction/horror writers. . . . Matheson could not write a bad book if he tried." --Hartford Courant
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“Somewhere in Time” (or “Bid Time Return”, depending on the edition) is many things: a novel about travelling in time, but also about love, and a fake diary of the descent into madness of a person suffering from an incurable disease. It is up to the reader to decide how to interpret it. Whatever their choice, they’ll find an engaging and intense work in their hands.
While reading I really felt in the mind and skin of the protagonist (the usual almost-hero of Matheson’s book, in whom every person can identify with because of his being ordinary and fallible) and I also got carried away in the past by the evocative historical reconstruction of places and customs. The involvement was such that I read the entire second half, in which the plot seems to accelerate, in no time.
As always in his books, the story is terribly modern to be more than forty-five years old (in this case). So many time travel stories were written, but here the main character does not find some technological or magical device to go into another period. Here the protagonist discovers by accident the traces of his own passage in the past and is convinced that he is intended to go there, and to do so, he just has to believe it.
And Matheson makes us live his inner life in such a realistic way that we end up believing it too.
The structure of the story is really well designed. It is not easy to tell by means of a diary, which is a retrospective narration of events, and make the reader feel as if they were happening in that very moment. To achieve this the author puts some breaks in the plot that the protagonist uses to report briefly on what has just happened. Actually there is nothing really short, since the narrated scenes are often very long, but it is still a compelling literary device.
The ending is a bit expected, but the logic of the whole and the poetry with which it is expressed makes it still satisfactory.
Perhaps what makes this novel particularly good is the fact that despite the story belongs to the fantasy genre, however, it gives the impression that it is not only plausible, but also that it really happened, thanks to Matheson’s ability to mix facts and real historical figures with invented ones.
The only downside, in my opinion, is that the initial part of the novel is a bit slow, but do not be deterred. Go on. You will not regret it.
Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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If you are not familiar with the story/movie at all then SPOILER ALERT on the plot overview provided.
Just don't come here expecting to find the same story as the movie, even though the basic frame of time travel and star-crossed lovers is the same. This 1975 book has a much darker element than the romantic fantasy 1980 movie, which so many of us have already seen... this is far more obsessive and, to me, is more about death and dying than romance.
Here, 36 yr old Richard Collier is a TV screenwriter in 1971 who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He has about 4-6 months left to live. He decides to randomly travel and write about his final days as a way to cope... the flip of a penny sends him on his way. This roadtrip soon brings Richard to the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego county. (This is an actual beachfront resort hotel which opened in the 1880s and is still thriving today in Southern California-- immense with quite the history of catering to wealthy clientele.)
Richard comes across a photograph of stage actress Elise McKenna, whose 19th century heyday is long gone. Yet he is struck with love and a determination to know more about her... and to meet her. He then devises a plan to go back in time via some form of hypnosis... Matheson's way of introducing the technique through Richard's obsessive thinking and research is weirdly believable. The author takes us through at least 100 pages of Richard's mind passionately and desperately trying to diminish the 75 yrs between him and his love. Some parts are interesting... but too much of it drags, imo.
Half of this book is pure meltdown obsession more than it is romance. Extra SPOILER ALERT: Elise doesn't even show up until about halfway through. To me, this isn't really a romance (okay, I'm a cynic). It's obsession. They share like 3 days together! Oh heck, even Romeo and Juliet had FIVE DAYS... of course, I don't think that was love either, lol. This is a story of a man coping with his death... a man begging for more time and holding on to the best moments of life... which, sadly, really are just moments. Yeah, the movie is the sappy, all-romance rendition... but this book is something else. Matheson has a superb understanding of psychological horror... the horror of the human condition.
Some interesting facts:
1) The original title of this 1975 book is Bid Time Return. It was changed to Somewhere in Time after the 1980 movie came out.
2) The book's original title comes from a line in Shakespeare's Richard II (Act III, Scene 2): "O call back yesterday, bid time return."
3) While the Hotel del Coronado is the hotel in the novel, the movie actually takes place at the Grand Hotel in Michigan.
4) Richard Matheson based the character "Elise McKenna" on actual American actress Maude Adams.
If you like the movie, check out this book. Otherwise, you might find it a bit dull without the gorgeous soundtrack playing along in your head.
It shouldn't be a big surprise that the book is different than the movie. For instance, the book takes place in California where the movie takes place in Michigan. Digressing, the premise of the story is a playwright named Richard Collier decides to go on final endeavor. I say final because Richard has a brain tumor and only several months to live. His outlook of recovery is rather slim, so he figures he will pull out his savings and have one last adventure.
This brings Richard to the Hotel del Coronado; he made the choice to attain this location by flipping a penny. It isn't too long before Richard discovers that this hotel has a rich history and a famous stage actress named Elise McKenna once performed there in 1896. It should be noted that the (present) time in this novel is 1971.
Richard becomes consumed and obsessed with Elise. He does a great deal of research and even does some sleuth work at the hotel itself to find out every detail he can about her. Richard then decides that he is going to attempt to travel back in time, since he has fallen madly in love with Elisa McKenna. Richard is able to travel back in time via hypnosis and/or the power of suggestion. This sounds a bit absurd, but the book is written so well it is almost believable. It is also an interesting twist on time travel.
There is more to the book, but I won't give any details away. Richard Matheson does an amazing job weaving a tapestry of science fiction, romance, history and fantasy. Since the novel is written in the first person (Richard Collier's), I strongly believe a man would have no problem at all identifying with the story. In other words, since this is a "tale of romance" it isn't only exclusive to the female gender. As a matter of fact, Elisa McKenna doesn't actually appear until page 150 (or so).
I also found the vocabulary that Matheson used to depict his tale to be amazing. I like to think I have a pretty good vocabulary and there were words I was never aware of that were found in this book. I read that Matheson did a good deal of research when writing this book and stayed at Hotel del Coronado in order to muse the character of Richard Collier. It is also my understanding that Elise McKenna was based on the stage actress Maude Adams. This technique on Matheson's part only adds to the novel.
While there are still differences from the book and the movie, I feel that they both complement one and other. As a matter of fact, I think this book is one of the best I've read. It gives it an edge the movie didn't have. Not that my fondness or devotion to the movie has faded, if anything it has billowed. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something that is a little different. Then after reading the book, definitely watch the movie. This story has such an arcane and haunting quality that would be a crime not to let oneself be captivated by it.