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11/22/6311/22/63 by Steven King. Gallery Books 2012. 848pp.

This is not another rehash of the Kennedy assassination. Rather it is about time travel and a man who went back in time to see if he could change history. An 848 page book is a daunting challenge but once you got into it, it was well worth it.

Jake Epping was a high school teacher with a soft heart. He had a friend who ran a small diner and had discovered a passage in his building which went back in time. He had gone back but was dying and wanted his friend Jake to take up the mission to save Kennedy.

You had to concentrate a bit, because the specifics were very specific. You could stay any length of time and yet only minutes had passed once you came back. Also if you changed something and came back and then went to the future again then what you had done became undone. There also seemed to be something or someone who threw obstacles in your path. After experimenting awhile he went to the future to spend a few years plotting what he was going to do, and that is where much of the story takes place.

I enjoyed the book very much. It raised a lot of questions. Steven Hawking was on PBS recently discussing time travel. I had also just seen the latest Disney movie The Jungle Book where the animals looked so real and, much to my surprise, they had been drawn. It made me think what is real and possible. Andy Sauer, who writes a column for the Observer, had told me it was a book I should read and I was very happy that I took him up on it.               –C.M.

The Watch That Ends The NightThe Watch That Ends The Night by Hugh MacLennan. Charles Scribner and Sons l959. 373 pp.

I loved this book when I first read it many years ago, and when I ran across it recently, decided to read it again. The story takes place in Montreal and is related by George Stewart, one of the main characters. George and his wife Catherine have a very happy marriage but her rheumatic heart disease is a constant worry for them. Catherine’s first husband, Jerome Martell, a distinguished doctor, had been George’s closest friend. He had left Canada to serve as a doctor during the Spanish Civil War. After the second World War began he was in the French underground and it was later reported that he died in a Nazi prison camp.

The novel begins with the unbelievable return from the dead of Jerome Martell. Then the story moves back into the earlier lives of the three main characters. There is a vivid picture of life in the thirties, how people suffered during the depression. The most interesting character is Jerome Martell, who until he was ten years old lived in a remote logging camp where his mother was the cook. How and why he was adopted, served in World War One, and went to medical school is a story in itself. He was a brilliant doctor, a caring man, but with many faults. Also in the book are wonderful descriptions of Montreal in the winter, and the Laurentians in the fall.

Hugh MacLennan was a highly regarded Canadian writer. He grew up in Nova Scotia and wrote a number of novels. –P.M.

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