Time and Again


Author: Jack Finney

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1970 (pbk 1995)

Number of Pages: 399

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: late 1960s(?), 1882

Series (If applicable): Finney wrote one sequel, From Time to Time

Plot Summary: Simon “Si” Morley is an illustrator in late 1960s(?) New York, not quite unhappy but wondering if there could be more to his satisfactory, if mundane, life. Then Si is recruited by a shadowy, unofficial government group secretly working on a project to send agents back in time to observe—and possibly alter—history. In 1882 New York, Si tries to discover the circumstances behind the curious suicide of a prominent businessman, while falling in love with fellow boarder Julia. This meticulously researched novel straddles fantasy and historical fiction, using an uncomplicated time-travel plot device to stage detailed historical descriptions. The author’s use of illustrations, paintings and photographs is cleverly incorporated into the plot, adding an unusual but interesting twist on the first-person narrative. While the book takes its time establishing the context and method for time travel, the leisurely pace picks up as romantic and other mystery-related developments begin to drive the plot. Ideal for readers who enjoy love stories with a historical and or fantasy bent, or a particular interest in historical New York.

Subject Headings: Nineteenth century; New York (N.Y.)—History—1865-1898—Fiction; Time travel—Fiction; Illustrators; Government conspiracies; Love stories; Architecture

Appeal: Nostalgic, sentimental, historical details, New York history, leisurely-paced, detailed settings, romantic, love stories, mild intrigue, mild suspense, plot-integrated illustrations and photographs, social commentary, soft science fiction, introspective, contemplative, broadly-drawn secondary characters, first-person perspective

3 terms that best describe this book: Historical details, mild suspense, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Lady with a Torch: How the Statue of Liberty Was Born, by Eleanor Coerr, drawings by Oscar de Mejo (The story behind French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty; New York history, figures prominently in plot)

Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York, by James D. Livingston (Recounts the 1896 murder trial of Mary Alice Livingston; historical New York setting, intrigue, social commentary)

New York by Gaslight: A Work Descriptive of the Great American Metropolis, by James D. McCabe, Jr. (Reissue of an 1882 guide to New York City with more than 90 original illustrations and descriptions of points of interest in old New York)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson (Sentimental tale of a man who falls in love with a 19th century actress, time-travel elements)

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (A nurse is accidentally transported back in time to 18th century Scotland and falls in love; historical details, adventurous, romantic)

Chasing the Wolf, by Nathan Singer (A young New York artist falls asleep in 2005 and wakes up in 1938 Mississippi to meet the love of his life; diary narrative, social commentary, historical details)

Joe Collier


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