This book caught my attention because I find European writers to be excellent story tellers and because it had already won the 2008 Ateneo de Sevilla XL Prize. At 600 plus pages it seemed a little daunting for a summer read, but it is definitely worth the time.
The story is told by an unknown narrator who knows and willingly shares the details and mystery of three interrelated stories. The stories are related by their time travel thread and by the wonderful characters, many of whom are well-known literary characters.
Palma begins the story in Victorian London, where the wealthy Andrew Harrington is planning to commit suicide. It turns out that he cannot live without the married prostitute he was in love with. A married prostitute who was killed by Jack the Ripper. What a beginning!
Andrew’s cousin Charles works to persuade Andrew, with the help of H. G. Wells, to go back in time to kill Jack the Ripper before he brutally murders Maria, Andrew’s love. Does Andrew change history? What happens when Andrew returns after his mission? There are so many twists and turns that you will have to read The Map of Time to find out.
In Part Two, we meet Claire Haggerty, fed up with all of Victorian England, who too wishes she were dead, or living in another time. She will fall in love with a hero from the future, and Wells will come into the picture again. Wells returns again in Part Three, where he be comes involved with Scotland Yard and a very unusual murder.
Palma is a much-loved writer is Spain and writes a wonderful historical-fiction novel with a twist. The writing is superb, even if the all-knowing narrator is a little too verbose on occasion.
Book Details: Published by Atria Books (June 28, 2011), 624 pages, ISBN: 1439167397.