Talking about the Book: Times of Turmoil by Anna Belfrage

Book on desk

Times of Turmoil

by Anna Belfrage

A bit about the author (from her website):
“I was always going to be a writer – well in between being an Arctic explorer, a crusader or Richard Lionheart’s favourite page (no double entendre intended – I was far too innocent at the time) Anyway, not for me the world of nine to five, of mortgages and salary checks. Oh no; I was going to be a free spirit, an impoverished but happy writer, slaving away in a garret room.

Life happened. (It does, doesn’t it?) I found myself the bemused holder of a degree in Business Admin, and a couple of years later I was juggling a challenging career, four kids, a husband (or was he juggling me?) a jungle of a garden, a dog, a house … Not much time for writing there, let me tell you.” 

Char notes: I hazard to guess that my friend Anna sleeps about 3 hours a day. She is quite the prolific author, and a fantastic storyteller.

The story
Pennsylvania/Delaware, 1718. Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, want nothing more than a peaceful existence for their family. Difficult to do when old enemies threaten their lives where they’ve settled not far from Philadelphia. And Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslavement or even death.

The scene that made you smile or cheer
As Erin is a time traveller from the 21st century, she occasionally uses words or phrases, e.g., death wish, or cool off, that wouldn’t have been heard in the 18th century. Or there are her own thoughts about what she misses from her own time – a Coke, Spotify, bikinis, a terrycloth towel. Most of the references are her own thoughts, but every now & then she slips, confusing those in her presence.

The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Cousin Lettie’s behavior in the first half of the novel and Duncan’s blindness to her treatment of his wife drive me insane. For example,

“I still believe you are making too much of it. Lettie is trying to help, not meddle.” [Duncan] sounded stern.

Heartbreaking line, especially given the racism we still see in the U.S.

“The good people of Pennsylvania might not, in general, approve of slavery, but that did not mean they’d ever treat a coloured woman as their equal.”

4.5 stars
Times of Turmoil
is book 2 in The Time Locket series. I had read and reviewed book 1 back in 2021, and can honestly say that you’ll have no problems falling into this new book if you haven’t read the first in the series. Ms. Belfrage expertly weaves the backstory into the characters’ lives in 1718.

Ms. Belfrage immerses you in time and place. Her research is impeccable, from settings, clothing, food, politics and culture.

Times has a number of bad guys you would want to steer clear of. Ms. Belfrage’s villains are thoroughly disgusting without any redeeming characteristics, and well written. They are people you love to hate. Now I won’t say any of them surprised me when they turned up in a variety of places throughout the book. You expect something bad is going to happen to the main characters (MCs), and some of it is not pretty – some is downright horrible. You feel a real sense of danger for the MCs. They’ll get past one obstacle, and wham – there’s another! The tension builds and you know Ms. Belfrage isn’t done putting her MCs through hell.

Despite Duncan’s bullheadedness, his love for Erin and understanding of the hardships she faces in the 18th century, makes him an endearing character. Erin, 21st century woman transplanted to the past, is believable and brings a wonderful perspective of the times, of the history. Their passion for each other drives the story.

Well done, Ms. Belfrage. Highly recommended.

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