A Find Through Time
I wanted to read A Find Through Time because it takes place in and around the Battle of Little Big Horn (also known as Custer’s Last Stand), which sounded like an interesting setting for a time travel romance. Unfortunately, Marianne Petit’s book reads like a rough draft, and not a particularly good one.
Gabrielle Camden is a forensic artist – she takes a skull and uses clay to create a sculpture of what that person might have looked like alive (if you’ve ever watched the movie Gorky Park you’ve seen a pretty good dramatization of this). She is working on an archaeological dig in Montana, reconstructing the face of a mysterious skull from the Little Big Horn battle site. To her dismay, she soon realizes that the face she’s putting to the skull resembles her own almost exactly. Suddenly she gets sucked back in time to 1876, and finds herself the captive of a handsome Sioux warrior named Two Moons. Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, a good-looking reporter named Roy is searching for her, and learning some strange things.
My first and most obvious problem with this book is that New Leaf Books (not affiliated with New Leaf Press, as their web site assures us) obviously thinks that running a manuscript through a spell checker is all the copyediting it could possibly need. Therefore, Gabrielle thinks of men as “deceiving thuds,” and at one point it only takes her “a matter of minuets” to get somewhere. Sentences like “Would serve him right he if spent hours searching” definitely interrupt the flow of the narrative. Roy has brown pupils, which sounds like a medical condition to me, and Gabrielle’s horse is both male and female – on the same page. Most embarrassing of all is the reference to pioneering science-fiction author Jules Verne, in which his name is misspelled.
I applaud the efforts of small, non-New York City presses to expand the choices available for readers; but by allowing this book to hit the streets in this condition, New Leaf Books did Ms. Petit a serious disservice, and they insult those of us they expect to pay over $12 for it.
On to the meat of the matter – this book features unsympathetic characters in an impossible-to-believe situation. I never liked Gabrielle, who is practically an Angst-Queen: her mother was cold, her father was absent, she feels responsible for their divorce and for the death of her brother, and she was apparently literally left at the altar by her fiancé. That’s before she became an time-traveler and Indian captive. She vacillates between being spunky and depressed. Roy, her modern-day love interest, is a louse who pokes through Gabrielle’s private possessions and photographs them for publication when she’s not there, thinking to himself, “It would be worth getting caught if for nothing more than to see the fire in those lovely blue eyes.”
Two Moons, her 19th century love interest, is not particularly lovable, but he behaves like a product of his culture, and his actions generally make sense. He treats Blue Eyes (as he calls her) as a slave, forcing her to be his mother’s servant. When she escapes he acts like she has committed an awful betrayal. Even once they’ve fallen in love, he’s jealous, possessive, dominating, and easily falls prey to all manner of misunderstandings.
On top of its unlikable characters, this book is dull. The modern-day sections mostly feature Roy sitting in an armchair, listening to lectures about spirituality by a mysterious shaman-like figure. The sections set in the 1800s are more interesting, but since we know about the skull on the battlefield there’s no particular suspense as to how it’s going to end. The book is only 200 pages long, but it felt much longer, and I certainly would not have finished it had I not been reviewing it.
I’d like to see more small-press books like this one find success, but I just can’t recommend A Find Through Time at all.