We are delighted to announce that one of Yorkshire Bylines’ authors has written the novel On Time. We are familiar with Pam Jarvis’s writing skills when it comes to education, society and politics but she kept her imaginative side under a bushel – until now. We asked her friend Carmel O’Hagan to review the book for us.
I am an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. I will read anything and everything except fantasy and science fiction. So, this summer when I picked up On Time, by Pam Jarvis, I suspected the narrative might not grab me. Especially as I knew it was set across different periods in history, different countries and in the future as well as the past. And would involve sci-fi.
By the middle of chapter 1, I was hooked. I loved these characters. I wanted to know them. This is for me the very heart of good storytelling and the desire to curl up and enjoy.
On Time is a family saga, a detective story and a sci-fi novel. We pass through the arrival in the UK of the Kindertransport, 19th century Scotland, the first and second world wars, Californian hippy culture, the Prague spring of 1968, the recent coronavirus pandemic – and into the future. The novel moves backwards and forwards in time exploring family histories, ancestral habits and everyday concerns.
This book got inside my head. I loved it. Fantasy? Yes, but rooted in reality. Sci-fi? Yes, but so believable. It’s wonderfully refreshing and so, so clever. A great read.
It draws us into the common human experience shared over the centuries and cultures as war, famine and disease break families apart. Emotions, dreams and feelings are handed down from generation to generation leading to déjà vu and a collective memory that lives long after those involved have passed away. The novel raises questions about what we are leaving for our descendants and how they will judge us and understand our emotions and feelings.
Was life cheaper, and death more easily endured, many years ago? Are there differences in how we respond to death in war-torn countries or places where life is more fragile? It can be easy to think so.
Pam shows us how people may have borne illness and death before the invention of modern medicine – particularly that of a son or daughter – with dignity and resilience but their sorrows and emotions were no less acute than ours.Technology may allow us to do more and to do more differently. But can it ever be more powerful than our emotions and our humanity?
The novel is moving, unbearably sad in places and also very funny. It is engrossing and is cleverly constructed keeping the reader guessing right through to the end.
I cannot wait for the sequel.