‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday: England victorious? Euro 2012

Ah, fooled you. 😉 If you came to this blog for a different reason, then I am sorry to disappoint.

See, this blog is about books, (well, sometimes I deviate slightly, but it’s mostly about books) books and the awesome authors that bring them to you.

Oh and one more thing, the thing that sets this blog apart from all the other book blogs out there: it’s free of crap. Yup, I mean, totally bullshit-free my friends. Refreshing huh? 😉

October 24, 1820 – Dr. Cassandra Reilly

* * *

The Time Baroness is the story of Dr. Cassandra Reilly, a scientist from the year 2120 who embarks upon a time travel journey to England of 1820. Her purpose is to conduct an experiment: living for a year in the guise of a wealthy widow and interacting within the Regency world.

Though she has painstakingly prepared for the experience, her unusual ways arouse both ire and interest from her neighbors…and attract an unexpected admirer.

Ultimately, circumstances beyond Cassandra’s control plunge her into a dangerous adventure, and she learns that people, and love, aren’t always what they seem to be.

Georgina Young-Ellis has written an amazing story, half historical fiction and half science fiction. Unusual or what?Cassandra Franklin, to give her the name the heroine uses throughout the book, has always dreamt of living in Jane Austin‘s time, of experiencing what it was really like to be alive in the period of the Regency in the early 19th century in England. Something lots of Jane Austin fans would love to do, no doubt. But for Cassandra, because she lives in 2120, when time travel has become a reality, the dream can actually come true. And so, with Cassandra, we step through the portal, and emerge into the dark evening streets of London in January 1820, just round the corner from The White Hart – and the story begins.Georgina Young-Ellis has achieved two very different things here. Both, I would imagine, equally hard, and both requiring considerable research. The first is to make the `scientific’ part of the book believable. I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that she has managed this really well, especially in the later part of the book where Cassandra returns temporarily to 2120 to gather up equipment for a very important jailbreak. The various new technological achievements available to her are described realistically and in a way which rings true. We feel that possibly in another hundred years or so at least some of these tools may have been invented.The second is to make Cassandra’s time in 1820 as accurate as possible. Here, I would claim a little more expertise; and although possibly not quite everything is exactly right, so much of it certainly is that the reader is happy to sink into the life of the period and simply enjoy being there.Not only is the book set in the Regency (by Cassandra’s deliberate choice, three years after Jane Austen’s death – she can’t risk disrupting any of the writer’s life by impinging on it, and possibly spoiling something which she has written by changing Austen’s experience) – but the plot is also very much of Jane Austen’s type. There are only a few pieces of fast-moving action, although those are gripping. Otherwise the action moves fairly slowly, and is mainly character based. Cassandra’s first meeting with Benedict Johnston manages to send prickles up the reader’s spine. This is clearly going to lead to something. Their relationship is beautifully developed, and for most of the rest of the book we are aware of the difficulties as Benedict himself can’t be, and as Cassandra of course is; and we are left constantly wondering how this can possibly be resolved in any way which will feel satisfactory. Enough to say that Georgina Young-Ellis resolves the problem unexpectedly and successfully, leaving us happy with the outcome. And moreover when we look back we can see that the seeds for this development were cunningly planted in various ways from the start of Cassandra’s adventure, and in the fact that she left out an important part of her pre-arranged story when telling Benedict why she had left America, and that therefore the subject of slavery was not, in fact, discussed between them at an earlier stage. For if it had been so discussed, before their relationship had moved so far, the outcome might have been very different.The major characters, especially Cassandra, are well drawn, easy to relate to and full of life. They develop as we get to know them through the various scenes and conversations. The minor characters also (and the book is full of them) come to life easily, and Lady Clark in particular shows her true character more and more as the book goes on. Interestingly, Cassandra is fairer in her view of this lady than we, as readers, feel like being, and rightly gives her credit for seeing the truth, when as readers we simply want to say, `What a horrible woman!’The scene where Cassandra helps a farmer’s wife, the local `midwife,’ with a birth, is particularly well done. This, of course, is not something which Jane Austin would have written about, but the experience brings us, and Cassandra, closer to the realities of life for the ordinary woman at that time than anything else we are shown. The tragedy and the realism of how she deals with the problems of the birth, taking place without the help of modern medicine, are both moving and enlightening.

The brief meeting between Cassandra and Jane Austen’s sister, also called Cassandra, is another strikingly well done scene. It makes us remember, with a shock, that Cassandra Franklin doesn’t belong to this time, for after nearly a year of living her life with her as an early 19th century woman we, like Cassandra, have almost forgotten that this is not her normal environment.

If you like Jane Austen (or even if you don’t particularly, but do enjoy time travel) this is a book you shouldn’t miss. Original, expertly done, fascinating – and thoroughly recommended.

You just gotta get your hands on this, right?

Well, you know what’s coming next?

What are you waiting for? *clears throat ceremoniously* “LINKS!”

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Amazon.fr

Amazon.de

Oh and did I mention you can get it in paperback? Well ya can. HERE.

So, fellow consumers of all things scribbled, my work here is done for another week. Be good, and if you can’t be good, be bad without the bullshit eh? 😉

Saffi

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Writer, dreamer, pantser.

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3 comments on “‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday: England victorious? Euro 2012
  1. What a great review! It sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks Saffi and Gerry!

  2. I’ve arleady put my hands on it! *grins* Read it, enjoyed it, reviewed it, and even did some thinking on it as research for my current work. *grins* (my protagonist is slightly jealous of Cassandra as she gets to go home in the end *snickers*)

    And how did England do?
    I’m not a sports girl and don’t even follow my husband’s adult league ice hockey team, so for your skae I hope they did well (or at lest put up a good fight).

    :} Cathryn

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