Strangely enough, the title of Lesley Dimmock’s new novel, Out of Time, not only describes the plot, but also the general feeling of the book. Dimmock’s created a nice story and compelling characters, but the narrative still feels hasty and rushed,
The book opens with Queen Elizabeth the first on horseback bickering with her courtiers. Dimmock does do a nice job of creating a comfortable period tone. The 16th century passages have a casual feel to them that helps the reader inhabit the world, instead of bursting with references and overwhelming dramaturgical prowess. While out, the Queen and her entourage stop in a circle of stones rumored to have mystical powers. With a clap of thunder, the Queen disappears.
We next see her in a back garden in modern-day Australia, an unexpected jump for all involved. The garden belongs to Lindsay ap Rhys ap Gruffud, a Welsh ex-pat and the ostensible hero of the story. From there charming romp unfolds as Lindsay, her best friend Meg and the mysterious and beautiful librarian, Kate Spencer, try to find a way to send the time traveling Queen back to her own epoch.
It’s a fun story. Dimmock seems to know how to move her plot along gracefully, but doesn’t seem to fully know what her plot is. There are several scenes that, while entertaining, don’t seem to add much to the story. The moments of time travel are exciting, but mostly unexplained and one can’t help but wonder more about how time travel exists in this world.
As the plot flew through its paces, there were also scenes that could have used some more time and development. All the characters are thoroughly charming and fun to read about. Unfortunately they exist on such a surface level that we barely get to spend with them. The romance between Kate and Lindsay is very sweet and it could have taken up more of the book and been used to further develop the characters. All of them needed a bit more time for narrative and exposition instead of only existing in the dialogue. The build-up of each character’s narrative arc lacked any unexpected revelations and while they were charming, some depth might have added an element surprise and discovery to their interactions.
Really, the problem with Out of Time is it’s just good enough to leave you wanting more time both with the plot and the characters, but still missing that payoff.