Double Cannonball! Woo!
This book was…meh. It was…inoffensive. Well, that’s not true. I was offended by the fact that it could have been a great story, but the author had apparently never heard human beings having conversations, and therefore delivered some of the most stilted dialogue I’ve ever read. And the method/reason for the time travel started out cool, then got stupid. Fast. That’s offensive because in the hands of someone else, it could have been great! (read: in the hands of Diana Gabaldon, this could have been great!)
Also, the jacket promised way more dogs than the book delivered. There was like, one dog, and he barely did anything. What the hell?
So Now & Then, which I began thinking of as Outlander Lite, is about a barren, recently divorced attorney named Anna and her fuck up of a nephew, 16 year old Joseph. Brought together by the injury of Anna’s asshole brother, Anna and Joseph touch…something….that sends them back to 1844 Ireland, during the British occupation and just before the famine. Here, I’ll spoil it for you: they touch a piece of Anna’s ex’s underwear, given to her in Ireland (present day) by a descendant of the woman Joseph falls in love with back in 1844 who has *spooky voice* cursed the family (don’t worry, they’ll fix that).
See? It sounds kind of cool, then gets stupid by the end. Anyway, Anna & Joseph get separated and have various degrees of retrograde amnesia. Anna ends up with a poor family on the outskirts of a town (but they’re smugglers!) and Joseph lands in the hands of a British officer who controls a large portion of Irish land and talks (stiltedly) about what losers the Irish are. A lot. He’s an 1840s Jack Randall, only not quite so mean and it’s the Irish, not the Scots. There’s some culture shock, as usually seen in these things, but Anna and Joseph are no Claire Beachamp — their 20th century skills are damn near useless until Joseph discovers his high school wrestling abilities make him dear to the Brit (16 year old boy taking down man after man because he looks at their feet and knows how to throw them off balance). So he begins traveling and competing, convinced this is the life for him, while Anna searches fervently for him (kind of. takes her a while).
Then they both fall in love, everyone gets pregnant, a curse is revealed and broken. There’s a prison break that takes place entirely off page. Seriously–Anna’s boyfriend is in prison, heading to Australia, then she goes home and opens the door and there he is! His men got him out! Woo! There are a couple of dogs, but the jacket makes it sound like an Irish wolfhound was the damn main character, and that makes me crabby because he was in it for like five minutes. I did learn that “Madigan” means “little man” in Irish. That was neat. Joseph’s girlfriend and her mother both have “the sight” (because they are the seventh daughters of seventh daughters), and they can heal people through touch. I would have much preferred the book to have been written from their perspective, since they seemed much more interesting and tough than Joseph and Anna’s whiny asses. Or from the dog’s perspective.
And there’s a lot of unnecessary, in my opinion, description of the abuse suffered by Joseph at the hands of his father, and his father at the hands of his father, and so on back. Of course, it’s because of the *spooky voice* curse….but it kind of stressed me out after a while. Made me feel bad that Joseph annoyed me so much–I think that was the real issue. But the curse is broken, they return to their time, Joseph and his daddy make up and Anna’s no longer barren (see, that was part of the *spooky voice* curse, too). Of course, she’s pregnant with her 19th century boyfriend’s baby, but whatever. Oh, and Joseph knocked up someone who was probably his ancestor while he was in the 1800s, and left the sixteen year old girl there to fend for herself when he returns to present-day. Because unwed 16 year old poor girls in Ireland were treated very well in the 1800s.
The more I think about this book, the less I like it. Don’t bother.