Bittersweet and beautifully written, Times and Places is an emotional journey for the reader as swell as its protagonist, Fergus Fredricks.
Fergus and wife, Sylvie, live every parent’s worst nightmare, losing a child. Twenty-four-year-old Justine Fredricks dies as a result of a freak accident. For the next ten years, her parents merely exist.
For Fergus, the anguish is immeasurable, and no amount of mourning seems to help him heal.
Taking their first major holiday since Justine’s death—an exotic three-week cruise—will be frustrating, annoying, and emotional for Fergus. It will also be life-changing.
Time and Places was an excellent read that drew me right in.
The change of time as well as characters in the alternating POVs was seamless and showed each character’s place in the story without unnecessary ‘info dumps.’ It also allows Justine to be a living, breathing character in the story, instead of simply the sad memory of those who loved her.
The characters are well developed, and while I felt sorry for Fergus, Sylvie, and Jones, my heart broke for Hannah! The agony she lived through so soon after losing her husband… I can’t imagine. Boyfriend, Jones, as well as the parade of characters aboard ship are all well developed and heartfelt. Mrs. Huffington, Richard and Cressida, Gentle Henry and Tabitha, Nicole and Holly… and even the horrid arachnid woman, are all memorable characters who will stay with the reader long after story’s end.
While the Fredricks’ tale is a sad one, there are several bright and humorous moments in the story, thanks to British humor. And my laugh-out-loud moment came when I found out who the orange-robed monks were!
Although I didn’t care for Fergus much in the beginning, he became lovable as his story unfolded and I began to understand him. His emotions ran the gamut during the story. From a simple grieving father to a search to hear God (and a genius scene!), Fergus Fredricks skirts life’s fringes…emotionally and mentally.
Enter his anchor, Sylvie Fredricks—my favorite character!
No less traumatized at losing her only child, Sylvie appears to be the strong one in the Fredricks’ marriage… just based on her character here.
Her musings and internal thoughts aren’t as frequent or in-depth as her husband’s, but Sylvie always seems to be the one trying to ease Fergus’ apprehension… calm him down. The loss of a child can devastate a marriage—especially in fiction—when parents lose themselves to grief. It was refreshing to see the opposite portrayed in Times and Places.
This read is a journey. Set aside some time… and go to some new places with the Fredricks. You’ll be glad you did.
Ten years after his daughter Justine’s death, an anxious Fergus embarks on a cruise with his wife. On board, he meets a myriad of characters and is entranced by some, irritated by others and disgusted by one. These turbulent feelings, combined with a sequence of bizarre events, only lead to his increased anxiety.
In a series of flashbacks, Justine enjoys an ultimately short romance, a woman concludes she killed her and an investigating police officer is drawn into her idyllic world. Fergus, haunted by poignant memories, withdraws in search of answers.
Back on the cruise, Fergus reaches breaking point, fearing he has done something terrible. By the time the ship returns, his world has changed forever.
Times and Places spans Atlantic islands, the Chiltern countryside, Cornish coasts and rural Slovenia, all of which provide spectacular backdrops to a humorous and moving tale of quiet spirituality.
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