A Rip in the Veil is the first book in The Graham Saga, Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
On a muggy August day in 2002 Alexandra Lind is inexplicably thrown several centuries backwards in time to 1658. Life will never be the same for Alex. Alex lands at the feet of Matthew Graham – an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland. She gawks at this tall gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises that she is the odd one out, not him. Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her frightening new existence. Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew – a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with baggage of his own, and at times it seems his past will see them killed. How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?
When I was asked to review this book I was a bit conflicted as I don’t normally ‘do’ paranormal, time shift or anything with more than a whiff of the magical and fantastic. I think as I get older I’m more firmly fixed in the safe and believable (or perhaps too scared to give in to darker theories). Anyway, I’d read a number of Anna’s historical posts on her blog and was swayed by the historical aspect so settled down to have my prevailing genre preferences challenged.
Essentially Alexandra finds herself driving through a storm to get to a meeting when the earth opens up and life will never be the same again. She finds herself back in 1658 and is ‘rescued’ by the outlawed Matthew Graham. She has to adapt very quickly to survive, and avoid the accusations of witchcraft which would account for her knowledge, behaviour and general other worldliness. Surprisingly I quite enjoyed the actual “time slip” method though I’ll think twice about driving in thunder storms on deserted roads in future. For me what this book was about was the relationship that developed between Alexandra and Matthew. While initially there were several jumps between then and now as her contemporary family seek to discover what has happened to her, we gradually spend more time with Alexandra and Matthew, which I much preferred.
As the story unfolds we learn more about Alexandra’s history, and that of her mother Mercedes. This did lose me at times as there was an element of it that was a magical step too far for me to accept, though I acknowledge that other readers may have no problem with at all. Having said that, the story that accompanied it still had me fascinated, as it took us back to (my beloved) Seville with a backstory of the Inquisition and persecution. Matthew’s back story was equally as interesting, involving as it did the social and political upheaval of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate and moves to re-establish the monarchy. Families and allegiances were divided and it was a dangerous place to be if you found yourself supporting (or were accused of supporting) the wrong side.
Having suspended belief about time travel, I was quite happy to allow myself to be caught up in what I’d hoped was a developing romance (see I’d forgotten the real world already). The story that followed was one of feuding families, divided loyalties, love, loss and betrayal. It was one that was at times comic and at others sad, and often thought provoking. I was totally taken up with Alexandra and Matthew’s story and found Matthew to be a very like-able and sympathetic character for his time, a sharp contrast to most of the other ‘men’ we meet. Seeing Alexandra as a modern woman, thrust back in such an oppressively patriarchal society, also made me think about far we’ve come (however we might at times disagree).
Overall, this was a story that I was able to get lost in, and was primarily a story about the relationship between Alex and Matthew. Time slip was really the literary convention used to introduce a historical backstory to contrast with Alex’s contemporary reality. So while I might not necessarily be adding ‘time-slip’ to my list of reading preferences, I did enjoy this and if reading time permits I can see myself slipping back to see how things progress for this unlikely coupling.
I received an ecopy of the book from the author for review purposes.