Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson

Part fantasy, part romance, Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson is a time travel novel featuring Richard Collier, who falls in love with a turn of the century actress and travels back in time to meet her.

In 1971, Richard, on finding out that he is suffering from terminal cancer, embarks on a road trip from Los Angeles to Denver.  On the way, he stops at a historic hotel on the coast in San Diego where he sees a play program from the late 1800s and falls in love with the woman pictured on the front.  Captivated by her beauty, Collier researches the actress, Elise McKenna and finds out that she never married, had an overbearing manager named W.F. Robinson, and that she had a brief encounter in 1896 with a mysterious man at the hotel he is currently staying at.  Throughout his research, he realizes that he has fallen deeply in love with the woman, and convinces himself that he is the mysterious man with whom Elise had an affair.

Through research, Richard devises a plan to time travel through self-hypnosis where he believes that he is no longer in 1971 but rather in 1896.  Through this method, he successfully travels back to 1896 and finds Elise, who asks without any introduction or prompt,  “Is it you?” having been told that she would meet a man at that exact time and place.

Richard and Elise, much to the consternation of her manager, fall deeply in love.; however, can a man from the 20th century continue to exist in the 19th century forever?  Also, is Richard truly back in the 1890s or is it a fantasy made reality by Richard and brought about by his brain tumor?  Matheson develops strong arguments for both cases and leaves it to the reader to make the decision.

Not only does Matheson, who is a well-known horror writer and author of I Am Legend, step outside of his normal genre to create a fascinating time-travel novel, but he does a brilliant job with the creation of the story as well.  The novel begins as short, conversational audio journal entries transcribed by Richard's brother and transforms into journal entries during his time in 1896.  The beginning of the novel can be a bit awkward at first, but the style becomes easier to read as the novel progresses.