It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.
High Stanton is the perfect hero, an ex soldier with a conscience, an internet sensation for his survival techniques and a huge intellect. He is also handsome, dashing and charming.
Due to a road accident his wife and two young children were killed and he is totally alone and at loss as to what to do with the rest of his life. He receives an invitation to spend Christmas with his former history professor at Cambridge and she has an incredible task for him to undertake. The year is 2025 and as a history graduate Stanton is fascinated by the assignment offered to him.
Stanton is the perfect man for the job and the support network he is given by the professors at the University enable him to undertake the mission of his life, in fact, this could save millions of lives around the world and through history. It does take a large suspension of belief to accept the possibility of time travel but Elton is very convincing and the characters so believable that you get totally involved.
I am not going to give any more of the plot away but even so the twist and turns of the events offer an account that is almost unpredictable. Just when you think you know what is going to happen the author throws you another incident or character to keep you guessing.
A Ben Elton book has always been a good choice for me and some of his early works are highly comic. This is far more serious but still utterly readable and involving. I had to put my life on hold to find out what was going to happen next to Hugh Stanton and the new world he was creating. You know he should not be interfering with history but can understand the premise behind the meddling.
In this centenary year of the First World War the book is topical and the story from the pen of the joint narrator of Blackadder, well timed. Who will ever forget the ending of the Television series when they all “went over the top”? Ben Elton has taken an enormous subject and made it personal and engrossingly readable. Definitely one to be read and re-read.
The paperback was published on 6th November by Bantam Press
Charlotte Courthold – MT book reviewer