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#102 ~ Will I Ever Know

Will I Ever Know by Charles Henry

This novel tells the story of Chad Henson, a divorced, unemployed 30-something living in the modern day who falls in love with Frances Langford, a singer and B-Movie actress from the 1940s.  Chad’s obsession with her moves from VHS to reality when, after accepting a job from a professor perfecting his time machine, he is transported back in time and in contact with the actress.

This light-hearted story introduced me to Frances Langford and her friend, Iris Adrian.  It’s clear that the author also has a passion for Frances and the 1940s.  Frances and Iris read as genuine and I enjoyed learning more about them.  Chad, on the other hand, didn’t work as well for me.  As someone who is also in my mid-30s in today’s day and age, I couldn’t relate to him very well.  His speech patterns read as much older to me.  He suffers from a general lack of motivation that I would find unattractive at his age.  As such, I had difficulty with how quickly Frances became attached to Chad.  I didn’t completely buy the notion that her song “Will I Ever Know” generated that strong of a connection for both of them.

Any novel that discusses time travel requires that the reader be willing to suspend his or her disbelief in order to engage.  This was not a serious look at time travel, so I didn’t read it from that perspective.  Still, the relationship that Chad had with Professor Ernst van Schlaban felt hasty and silly to me.  Stylistically, the use of up to 25 ellipses at a time and the use of full caps during highly charged moments did not help to change my opinion.

While reading this novel, I wondered what happened to serialized novels that were printed in newspapers.  I remembered that as a kid the Grand Rapids Press used to run one leading up to Christmas every year.  I also recall that authors like Charles Dickens was printed like that.  While I’m not comparing Charles Henry to Charles Dickens, I think that this novel was meant for publication like that.  Each of the chapters were short and the subject matter was light enough that it could work well in that medium.  I cannot recommend this novel as it is.  I think it would work better and find the right readership in a different format and with the help of a good editor.

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4 Comments

  • At 2008.09.16 15:10, Ruth said:

    I was curious about this one, since I’m a big fan of time travel stories. I wanted to wait for reviews, though. Thanks for your honest opinion.

    • At 2008.09.16 17:06, Matthew said:

      It reminds me of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I didn’t spect I would enjoy reading.

      Maybe this is meant to be read as a script?

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      • At 2008.09.16 21:32, Shana said:

        Jennifer, it sounds like this one started off with an interesting premise but needs some editing and re-writing, sylistic changes, etc.

        I’m very impressed by the level of honesty present in your review.

        • At 2008.09.17 08:19, Literate Housewife said:

          Ruth, if you would like to check this book out, I’d be happy to send you my copy. Just shoot me an email. I would love your take on it since you like time travel fiction.
          ____
          Matt, The Time Traveler’s Wife is in an entirely different category of book. There wasn’t the same degree of buy in required for TTTW because it was more fleshed out. It was written as a novel, but it could fairly easily be turned into a script. It would still need some additional content I think to make it whole.
          ____
          Shana, the premise was very interesting. It’s a great way to be introduced to historical figures. I enjoyed finding out more about Frances Langford. I really think with some work it could be really fun.

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