Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Sphere, 2012
So far as basic premises go, The Time Keeper is exactly as it states – we are introduced to three primary characters who are fixated on time. Dor lives during an earlier age, before time keeping is invented, and from his childhood he is engaged in activities in involving the measuring of the passage of time. It is through his scientific, rational approach that he is able to predict events, and his quest for knowledge also bizarrely sees him punished. God assigns him the role of Father Time, locked away in a cave for 6 000 years, where he has to listen to the plaintive voices of those who cry out for more or less time.
Sarah Lemon has never been popular – and now that she’s discovered a lad who may be interested in her, she feels that time is passing too fast. Yet as we reach the conclusion of her unhappy story arc, we see that she does not, in fact, value time at all. She is the stereotypical plump, nerdy girl.
Our third viewpoint character is Victor Delamonte, a wealthy businessman who has just been informed that his cancer is terminal. Deep in his eighties, he has a gnawing sense of too much left undone. His problem is that his time is running out. He simply does not have enough time to still do all the things he wants.
With three characters’ lives to follow, and the constant jumping between the viewpoints, The Time Keeper offers readers a choppy narrative that makes it difficult to connect with Dor, Sarah and Victor. If the book had, perhaps, been longer, it might have been easier for me to invest emotionally and care more what happened to the three.
As for why Dor was punished for measuring time, when his actions were never implicitly stated as being sinful, also puzzles me. And, as such, his reasoning for selecting Sarah and Victor as his two subjects to help at the end of his incarceration also mystifies me. Neither are very likeable, and so far as characterisation goes, they are rather two-dimensional, to the point of coming across as clichés.
Overall, this is not a bad little book, if you’re the sort who enjoys inspirational fables, but unfortunately I am not that reader. All throughout I found myself wanting the story to get to some sort of profound realisation. Which it did not. Instead I felt annoyed and preached at, because the author’s intentions were so glaringly obvious from the get go until the novel reached its Dickensian conclusion. That being said, each reader unto his or her own. If you don’t mind a saccharine story that aims to teach you about not taking time for granted, then this one may possibly give you the warm fuzzies.