Here and Now
There are worse things for a book to be besides spectacularly boring, but when you’re reading a spectacularly boring book it’s hard to think of anything that’s worse. Here and Now is boring. Mind-numbingly boring. Rather watch paint dry boring.
You’d think it would be entertaining. The hero, Charles Garrity, is catapulted forward in time from 1926. He’s been a bootlegger. His best friend just shot him. Pretty heady stuff, right? Wrong. He jumps off a bridge and meets Suzanne McDermott as she pulls him out of the water. Suzanne is not having such a great day herself. She’s in her ninth month of pregnancy and she just found out that her husband left her for her best friend. After she does mouth to mouth on Charles she goes right into labor and they take off for the hospital. Suzanne barely has time to notice that Charles seems amazed by her car and unsure how it works. Charles ends up staying with her through the delivery of her child, and the people at the hospital just assume he is her husband and the baby’s father. Shortly after the trio arrives home, Charles reveals his amazing conclusion: he has come forward in time, by seventy-five years.
Suzanne is a little dubious at first, but Charles manages to convince her. She decides to let him stay while he gets his bearings and figures out what he wants to do in the “future.” Meanwhile, she is recovering from her baby’s birth, dealing with her soon-to-be ex-husband, and falling in love with Charles. Charles figures out a “big surprise” (which the average reader has doubtless figured out long before) and feels the need to exact revenge.
This is more or less it for the tissue thin plot. The rest of the time Charles and Suzanne compete to determine who will say the cheesiest, most maudlin thing to the other. I think I have to give it to Charles by a nose, since he says at the end:
“Will you come with me to Ireland, to the green hills and running waves? Will you marry me, be my wife, and raise our son amid the deep peace of the flowing air and the smiling stars? Will you honor me by allowing me to cherish you both for all my days and nights?”
Yuck. This is romance at its most insipid; hardly what you would expect from an author who has been writing for over a decade, and has written at least a few decent books in the past. (I read one whose title I have forgotten, but the heroine went back in time when she was at the dentist, and it wasn’t bad). Surely she can do better than these dull as dirt characters, who do almost nothing interesting (even by accident). If you’re interested in the whole pregnancy/baby aspect of the book, it’s a big flop in that area as well. Doubtless the author had children a long time ago, and has forgotten that a) a baby born two weeks early is still considered full term b) a woman who has just given birth generally does not hop up immediately and fix meals for guests c) when one has just given birth, one really really doesn’t think about sex two days later.
The one thing I did like about this book is that the author deals with the issues of betrayal and forgiveness in a fairly meaningful way, on several levels. Both Charles and Suzanne have been betrayed by their close friends, and Suzanne has the added pain of marital infidelity. Charles also has another problem relating to the “big secret.” But even the sensitive handling of these issues does not an interesting book make, and sometimes all of the characters sound like they’ve watched too much Oprah (they refer to the show by name repeatedly). This just isn’t a book I can recommend – even if the only other alternative is watching the paint dry.