Anna Belfrage's The Whirlpools of Time
Please note that the author uses British spelling in her writing and in the quotations I use.
“Had Anna been allowed to choose, she'd have become a professional time-traveller. No luck there, so instead she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests; history and writing.” (annabelfrage.com)
Like his Grandmother Alex before him, Duncan Melville finds himself on a crossroads during a terrible thunderstorm. Instead of falling backwards 300 years as she did, he falls forward in time, from 1716 to 2016, landing like his grandmother, at the feet (well, actually in front of a modern automobile driven by Erin Barnes!) of a person destined to be important in his life. Living in 2 time periods can be enlightening, confusing and, for a reader, so compelling that it is difficult to do anything else until you read to the novel’s end!
The crossroads are symbolic of life choices. For Anna Belfrage, they “…represent a moment in which there are multiple choices and you never know beforehand what will happen if you choose road A or road B. Obviously, my poor time travellers don’t get a choice, they’re just thrown through the nexus to land in an entirely new time. There are days when Alex, the female protagonist of The Graham Saga, still hasn’t forgiven me for this, but all I do is point at her Matthew and she swallows back her recriminations.”
You have to love an author who actively argues with her characters who tell her what to do, nag her if they don’t have an important enough role and consume her thought processes as she writes.
Despite the 300 year era difference between Duncan and Erin, the two have many similarities, including childhoods that had been filled with abuse and less than loving mothers. Both are saved by strong and caring grandmothers. Grandparents have a more mature point of view, lacking much of the angst and emotion of a parent.
Anna commented, “Speaking as a grandmother myself, I think the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is less complicated than between parent and child – for the simple reason that being a parent comes with so much responsibility. Ultimately, you’re responsible for creating a decent human being. As a grandparent, all you have to do is love—and boy, do you love! With my little grandson, it’s as if an entire sun explodes in my chest.”
As in other historical novels about the Scottish Clans, there is a great deal of admiration, even nostalgia, for the Clans, whose lifestyle and self-determination were destroyed by the British after the Battle of Culloden. Conflicts with unscrupulous people in both time periods add suspense and tension to the plot.
Anna creates strong and passionate relationships; Duncan and Erin’s is resiliant enough to withstand the test of time and time travel. I asked the author if this was a relationship many experienced in real life or one that was better realized in romance novels. “As to those passionate and close relationships, I am fortunate enough to live in one such relationship since forty years back. He always has my back, I always have his, and no one makes me laugh as much or holds me as tenderly when I need it. So I know such relationships exist.”
I am a fan of Anna Belfrage’s time travel novels and historical fiction. The Whirlpools of Time is no exception. Looking for strong and interesting characters, a twisting and satisfying plot, a great love interest and historically complicated problems (such as Erin being of mixed heritage in the South of the 18th century)? Open the pages of this book right now!
In Erin and Duncan’s travels, a favorite meal offered at inns was Meat Pie, still offered at British pubs today. Delicious then and now, I have recreated one with beef and alternatives that are with chicken, fish or vegetarian. No need to travel back in time to enjoy!