Bette Lischke,
In the Waters of Time
(SDP Publishing, 2015)

A woman is haunted in both dreaming and waking life by someone who lived around 100 years previously. Hallucinations? Ghosts? Memories of a prior life?

This is coupled with various more mundane problems, such as her miscarriages, her disinterest in her job, an annoying set of tics in her right hand that prevent her from creating art (though not, apparently, from doing other things that require facility) and feeling a rift between herself and her husband.

The pacing did not work for me.

We start out with Jane, a modern American woman, who is having dreams and visions of Elizabeth, a Victorian British woman, as well as her spastic hand, her sleepwalking and sleep-drawing, etc.

At first, this novel focused on Jane and her problems. But the middle third or so was all about Elizabeth, which is also a reasonably interesting story, but the author abandons Jane for that time.

After Elizabeth dies (not a spoiler, because no Victorian woman would have survived to now), we revert to Jane, who just so happens to meet a spiritualist hypnotherapist with whom she has amazing results immediately, including a lot of the cliched "white light" and "There are NO coincidences!" -- which, frankly, strikes me as terrifying. In short order her various problems are resolved; she understands that everything has worked out for the best; and most of her social and family circle turn out to be compadres in a spiritual group dedicated to evolving toward the Light over the centuries. The first part -- Jane haunted by visions -- made sense. As it progressed, though, the novel became less and less plausible for one who does not share the spiritualism that the author depicts.

Although the narrative is grounded by a lot of physical details, they are often not explained, and the consequences are often not addressed. Anyway, miracles for me need to be plausible miracles. This narrative is too disjointed to provide that. I wish it had been better; the premise is sound and it starts out promising, but derails.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

19 September 2015

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