Somewhere in Time - Richard Matheson

***** Can you change the past?

Matheson’s novels are all special in some way. What fascinates me about this author is his ability to present completely different stories, often in different genres, which do not seem to feel the passing of time. When I open a book of his, whatever the period when he wrote it, I already know that I will remain stunned.
“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.

Somewhere in Time on Amazon.