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Foodie Lit

Pamela Eglinski's Broken Portal in Rocky Mountain Park

Pamela Eglinski has written a time travel novel about a pandemic that raged across the United States. It was a bit surreal to find Broken Portal in Rocky Mountain Park was written two years before the Corona Virus outbreak that changed so many of our lives. While the novel’s disease and cause aren’t the same, much of the reactions and regulations that ensued are all too familiar to us. I asked Pam how she came to write this novel.

“Yes, Broken Portal in Rocky Mountain Park was published over 2 years in advance of COVID. How did I foresee the coming of a pandemic? I knew enough to hypothesize that the time was right for this event…. diseases [in animals] that “spillover” into humans. HIV/AIDS is an example, and so is COVID. Uncooked wild animals eaten by humans.”

Broken Portal in Rocky Mountain Park is what Pamela calls an “altered history” genre:  a character travels back in time to make changes that impact the future, the time the character really lives in. “In Broken Portal, a spot of blood on the back of a painting must be removed to avoid a pandemic in the future.”

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Albert Bierstadt’s famous “Long’s Peak” painted at Dunraven Cottage plays a major role in this novel. Pamela’s art history background helped develop this aspect of the plot, its timeline and setting. Looking up the painting helped me visualize what Bierstadt is actually painting.

Pamela artfully weaves the real into this novel, the beautiful Rocky Mountains, “Long’s Peak” painting along with the changes she makes in the past and present. Her love of researching history is evident in the details that help the time and place come alive.

Those of us who are time travel fans know that time travel has its guidelines, rules that time travelers follow. Here the traveler’s portal is “broken,” and the rules are transformed—a very intriguing idea. “But time was fractured—shards slipping against and past each other in awkward ways, like the ice on the partially frozen lake. There is more to the broken portal than I imaged.” 


What gets altered and what remains the same? You’ll have to read the novel for that!


Main character Sophie comes from a time traveling family. Her father and brother travel back to 1866 in the Rockies, and her brother Jonathan remains despite the pleading of his father, finding that this time fit him better. This gets most of us time travel wannabees thinking about the perfect era for us!

Sophie and Jonathan’s mother travels back to find Jonathan. She disappears in time. I asked Pam if she would write a future novel about what happens to her. “No. She was not a nice person, so I sent her off into the great unknown. She never returns, giving relief to the entire family. I think everyone has someone they’d like to see transported to another time, and never return.”


Who could not love an author like this?


In 2017, Sophie works with CDC doctor, Rob McHenry on researching the pandemic’s origins. With no cure in sight, Sophie travels back to 1876, finds Jonathan, and tries to change the future from the past. 


The serious side of the novel is, of course, a virus that kills so many domestically and internationally. While not starting in Wuhan but in the Rockies, the effects on American life are startling the same.


In Broken Portal in Rocky Mountain Park, POTUS tells America, “’Here is what you need to do and I’m afraid it is a list of ‘don’ts.’ Don’t go to work. Stay at home unless you are in one of the research institutions working on a cure—like the CDC or a university. Do not take public transportation—if it’s still running in your area. Don’t dine out or visit your favorite bar. I’m asking them to close, along with retail stores. Stockpile food and gas….I’m advising all schools to close their doors…Keep the children at home. I’ll alert them when it is safe to reopen. Many government offices will close…Hospitals will remain open and temporary morgues are receiving those who didn’t survive….’


Sounds pretty close to martial law, Rob thought, a chill running up his spine.” 


With thousands of National Guard troops in Washington, DC, fences built around our Capitol, many school districts, restaurants and businesses closed, some permanently…we may agree with Bob.


We all join Sophie, as says to her brother in1876, as she prepares to go back to her time, “Say a little prayer for the future.”

A Broken Portal  in Rocky Mountain Park was part of my Eat, Read and Dream cookbook with a fabulous recipe for Trout Almondine, enjoyed by Sophie and Rob at a favorite restaurant. Served with the Trout was Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette and that delicious recipe is given here. 

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