Two Eras in One Fictional Work

Dave Astor on Literature

Many readers have an affinity for PT. Physical therapy? In some cases. But what I’m talking about is parallel timelines.

Those timelines can be very appealing in novels. We get two stories for the price of one, in two disparate eras. We see that people from distinct historical periods are different (in the way they speak, in what they wear, in the “devices” they use, in cultural norms, etc.) yet emotionally not so different (most people from any era want love, good health, security, and enough money to be comfortable; feel anger and jealousy; etc.).

Parallel timelines are not easy for an author. A lot of research is involved, and characters from centuries or many decades apart have to be depicted in different ways. Then, for the icing on the cake, the expected connections between characters from different eras should be revealed slowly and convincingly.

Barbara Kingsolver does all this…

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