Time Was

Time Was

Book - 2018 | First edition
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"A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books. In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found. Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate time lines overlap"--Back cover.
Publisher: New York : Tor, a Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765391469 (paperback)
0765391465 (paperback)
Branch Call Number: S MCDONALD
Characteristics: 143 pages ; 21 cm

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shayshortt
Nov 22, 2018

As a story, Time Was is melancholy and slightly unsatisfying. It was pitched to me as a sad but romantic gay time travel story, and certainly that is what the cover copy, which focuses on Tom and Ben, and never mentions the narrator, would lead you to believe. There are some good aspects to the story that McDonald has actually written, from beautiful prose, to cool science, and great use of epistolary elements, but the protagonist of this novella is the bookseller, and the story told here is his.

Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2018/11/20/time-was/

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shayshortt
Nov 22, 2018

At the closing of London’s Golden Page book store, an online book dealer finds an anonymous book of poetry dating from shortly before the Second World War. Inside is a love letter from Tom to Ben. An online posting about the two men leads to a woman’s attic in the Fenlands, where her grandfather keeps an archive of his father’s war, including a photo of a group of British soldiers in Alexandria. But deep in the bowels of the Imperial War Museum’s photo archives, more images are waiting to be discovered. Because Tom and Ben’s story span’s time, from Crimea to the Rape of Nanking, to Bosnia, wherever there is a war, there seems to be a photo of the two lovers, caught in the midst of the conflict, and our bookseller becomes obsessed with how they got there.

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shayshortt
Nov 22, 2018

Too many of the war loves I had followed did not survive. Peace killed them. People returned to their old lives and loves; quickly the old order reasserted itself, the very order for which they had fought.

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