Editorial Review: Chasing Time by Thomas Reilly
In Chasing Time by Thomas Reilly, a loving couple faces the type of news that nobody wants to hear on the cusp of their golden years.
Following a short prologue about the struggles of an olive oil importer in ancient Rome, we meet young Tony in 1965. Tony has always been fascinated with the concept of time and has an uncanny affinity for prediction, from simply guessing the correct time to predicting Yankees scores. His unusual gift is instrumental in elevating his status from a socially awkward target to a confident and popular high school success story.
Tony goes on to enjoy the perfect, ‘white picket fence’ life: An accomplished career as a history professor, a long and happy marriage to his English teacher college sweetheart and two lovely children, robust health, the time and means to balance working with enjoying travel and hobbies, all topped off with four healthy grandchildren. Tony and Ann ease into their retirement, looking forward to many more active and rewarding years pursuing personal interests and pastimes, and spending time with their family.
Their lives are turned upside down when Ann receives the devastating diagnosis of a motor neuron disease, that is progressing rapidly. Tony immediately swings into action in a desperate attempt to hold onto their dream.
“Although the bright sunlight pouring through the large glass window in his home office foreshadowed a clear day, Tony’s mind was anything but unclouded. Yes, he had learned so much about ALS, including its pathology, progression and even its potential therapies. But he had failed in his major objective—uncovering an effective treatment for Ann. Even if a drug that promotes neurogenesis offered a glimmer of hope for her, how was he to uncover such an agent if, in fact, it actually existed?”
What does a strange artifact featuring Janus, the ancient Roman god of time, have to do with Tony’s quest to help his beloved Ann? Is an ephemeral message from a time capsule sealed in 1905 a clue in solving this unwelcome turn of events, and how are a lifetime of seemingly inconsequential coincidences linked to it all?
There are some bonus “Did you know?” moments in the form of interesting historical background on the places Tony’s quest takes him, including some New York landmarks, and some fascinating insights and information on the medical aspects of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or MND, motor neuron disease). The web of sub-plots is handled with a balance of exposition and enigma.
Although the dialogue is sometimes a little stilted, the narrative stays firmly on track, and the sometimes overly informational interactions don’t detract too much from the overall enjoyable reading experience.
The characters aren’t developed to any substantial depth, but the sharp pacing is engaging enough to compensate for this.
This short début novel is a polished, family-oriented light read about the true meaning of dedication, weaving elements of medical drama and magical realism into a captivating tale of love and determination.