Time and Time again by Ben Elton

by missizziemcguinness


‘No matter how many times everyone uses each other’s first names, the rich still get richer and the poor still get poorer and nobody gives a damn about anyone,’ 

Time and Time again is a book set in three different time periods over 300 years and it is about an ex soldier and adventurer called Hugh Stanton who knows that the Great War is coming but he must change that history and prevent it, therefore preventing a butterfly effect of events over the course of the next century.

I read it thinking that it was going to be another same old time travel story. I have a small interest in time travel from watching films and TV shows such as Back to the Future and Goodnight Sweetheart. Time and Time again, however, is not any old boring story. It doesn’t just tell a story, it makes a statement on culture and society from the past and even now, although the present events are actually set in the future, and it tests the involvement of Newton’s law of gravity with time travel. I connect with the characters, and I feel sorry for Stanton for losing his wife and kids, and yet I knew that he also loved Bernie, an Irish suffragette. The narrative and pacing is rather smooth so that I could pick up the book where I left off, and I could still find out so many things about how a war and a crazy scientist’s theory and the butterfly effect shaped how we are today. What exactly would have happened if Franz Ferdinand didn’t get shot?

His plan is simple- to kill the Kaiser and keep Franz Ferdinand alive, but one gunshot will change history. Yes, he stopped World War I, but that led to another event and poems and books that will make no sense to altered history because he stopped World War I. It’s also a reoccurring thing in the book that there’s a loop of time of about a hundred and ten years with three different worlds. The book is so hectic yet every event crushes the previous event and you go on such a journey with the character that you don’t bother looking back. The character of Hugh Stanton is quick and he knows his stuff yet he’s lonely in a metaphorical way to the point where he’s probably considered strange by other people. It’s also up to your own interpretation into how the book ends. That’s what so good about it. The narrative is strong and it has a good flow to make your own decision.

I love Ben Elton’s writing style, what with his use of rhetorical questions that aren’t too overbearing. Sometimes the line about the gunshot was short, maybe to suggest that the shot was quick. I hadn’t  hadn’t heard of Ben Elton before reading this book but I might need to read some more of his work. This novel is definetly within my ‘Top five Favourite books’ list, but I might need to buy it (I borrowed it from a local library) and re read it to pick up the smaller details that I didn’t pick up last time. Sadly, in he real world, there was still World War I and Hugh Stanton is not there to stop it.

A thrilling read and I would highly recommend it, though the pacing slows down at times.