“The past harmonizes. The past does not want to be changed. The past is obdurate. But, there are some “watershed” moments that are worth risking everything to change, right? “But when it comes to the river of history, the watershed moments most susceptible to change are assassinations.” When there is a rabbit hole that connects the present to Lisbon Falls, Maine on September 19, 1958 at 11:58 am that allows Jake Epping, aka George Amberson, ample time to intervene in the assassination of President Kennedy. Even if he fails on his first attempt he can start over since every re-entry is a complete re-set, or is it? What does Jake/George do in the years between 1958 and 1963? Build a life, of course.
This is my first Stephen King book. It was probably the perfect one for me to put under my belt because, (1) I love history, (2) I was obsessed with JFK conspiracy theories in high school, and (3) my favorite TV show in high school was Quantum Leap – the time traveling hero that tried to make all things right. I can certainly understand why King is so revered in literary circles. King is a masterful storyteller and made the characters come to life. He really humanized Jackie Kennedy is one brief paragraph, and the fictional characters were incredibly well developed, both the primary and secondary ones. I loved Harry! One of the reasons I love history so much is the interconnectivity of events. Nothing happens in a vacuum. What better way to show that than in a time-travel tale. Taking it a step further, King had perfect timing often relying on foreshadowing, an excellent devise in a time travel novel, to ease concerns. Every time I found myself wondering how a thread could possibly play out he showed me. King’s attention to detail is superb. In the end, because he was so good at it, I was frustrated with a couple of errors that I might would have over looked otherwise from an admittedly “novelist, not an historian”. King certainly knows how to capture the essence of a period, ““Did I want to spend years in the past? No. But I did want to go back. If only to hear how Little Richard sounded when he was still on top of the pops. Or get on a Trans World Airlines plane without having to take off my shoes, submit to a full-body scan, and go through a metal detector. And I wanted another root beer,” and of life in a small town, “This was one night in a small town, one of these burgs off the main road that nobody cares about much except for the people who live there. And that’s okay, because THEY care.” Finally, this was an incredible love story, even if I found the love scenes farcical. In fact, it may well be the best love story I’ve ever read.
I thought King did a good job with history of the time and was glad he didn’t go too far down the conspiracy theory road. He provided good information on the Oswalds’ life, Jack Ruby, de Mohreschidt (again without going too far down the conspiracy theory road), the FBI missteps, and the attempt on General Walker’s life.
This is a great love story, great mystery, great suspense, and great history.