Paris Adrift was pitched to me as The Time Machine meets Midnight in Paris and I have to say I enjoyed it a bit more than both! It had the quirks and French cultural influences from Midnight and the inventive time travel from The Time Machine.
Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge.
Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris.
Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.
I am always ALL about the time travel books. Seriously. There’s no easier way to catch my interest (except maybe kittens). And I was impressed with the time travel aspect. Not only was there travel forwards, but also backwards, and I loved this added detail. You’d be surprised how many novels only let you go backwards. Where’s the fun in that? In addition, there wasn’t a complete element of freedom in their time travel, which I really appreciated. Time travel is not always easy work people!
So because of that, I was able to ask the author, E.J. Swift to write me a guest post about time travel!
Guest Post from the Author
(Mis)Adventures in space and time
Time travel can be a perilous business. If you’re busy planning your next venture through the fabric of space and time, there are a few things you might want to consider before your departure.
First up: the practicalities. Can you take your clothes with you, or is this trip of the strictly organic matter only variety? If only Audrey Niffenegger’s Henry DeTamble had been able to take a pair of trousers with him, who knows how things might have turned out. And if you are lucky enough to travel fully garbed, what were you wearing when you left? (You were wearing something, right?)
Step two: can you preselect your destination? If this is a lottery trip, there are potential hazards. Best case scenario, you find yourself transported to the halcyon Golden Age of your dreams, or to a future utopia where all the world’s problems have been solved. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the chance of horrible death in a particularly nasty period of history – the plague, La Guillotine, or providing dinner for a local basilosaurus.
Whenever you end up, locking down the return trip is definitely advisable. Visiting the standing stones at Craigh na Dun might seem a great idea at the time, but when you find yourself in eighteenth century Scotland without antibiotics or a viable way back, things can get tricky – even if the locals are friendly and all too eager to remove their clothes. Ideally you’ll have a Tardis on hand, but failing that, any time machine with a half-decent steering system is better than a dubious portal. Just be sure to remove the levers if you don’t lock up behind you.
Finally, it’s probably best to avoid hunting down – and interacting with – your ancestors. Quite apart from the potential of screwing up your own conception, you might get back to the present day and find you are, literally, a different person. (Best not be seen by yourself, either. We’ve all heard Dumbledore’s warnings on that front.)
Of course, if you’re writing a time travel saga, these devices are exactly the sort of challenges, complications and downright miseries you want to impose upon your characters. The fun of time travel stems from the disorientation of the traveller as much as the sense of wonder – the shock of being confronted with cultures, social systems and beliefs which may be completely alien to your own time, and how you do – or don’t – deal with that strangeness. Compound this with the possibility of arriving naked, having no idea if there’s a way back, or potentially killing Hitler, and you have plenty to keep your characters occupied.
The rich history of Paris presents plenty of opportunities for mishap, and much of the challenge in writing Paris Adrift was in narrowing down which periods in time to explore. The sense of dislocation, and its counter in the possibility of reinvention, was something I was particularly interested to explore through my narrator Hallie. Hallie is a character who already feels out of place in her own time. Time travel marks her out, but it also represents an opportunity: to become someone new, however brief the transition, and to find hope for the future – whatever (and whenever) that may be.
Paris Adrift is a different type of time travel book, one I hope to see more of, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Paris, the fear for the future, and traveling into the unknown. Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!
Do you have a favorite time travel book?
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