What Amazon says
John Finbow, a successful writer, and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. It had previously been owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. Their marriage is under strain, as John, 39 would like children before he gets too old, but Kay, 34, does not.
When John is working in his study soon after moving in, he is disturbed by the sight of a young woman who appears out of the blue on his sofa. Emily Cuthbertson, whose old bedroom is now John’s study, was 25 at the time of her death and the youngest of 8 offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia. Emily had died in 1868 but is now unwilling to leave behind her old life on earth, due to having missed out on a family of her own whilst being a companion to her widowed mother. Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams.
One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?
I have read a few of Stevie Turner’s books and found them to be interesting and well-written reads. I was of the view that her biggest writing strength was her ability to convert current topical issues into an engaging story, examples are child pornography and pedophilia (For the Sake of a Child), kidnapping and holding captive of women (A House Without Windows), cancer and its treatment (A Rather Unusual Romance), and the social problems facing transgender people (His Ladyship). Due to this thinking I was a little reserved about embarking on a paranormal read by this author. I am also an avid reader of well-known paranormal novels and I was concerned I’d make unfavourable comparisons to other authors and books I’ve read. I started small with Ms Turner’s paranormal novella, Finding David, and enjoyed it very much. I then decided to give Partners in Time a try. I am very glad I did as this is one of the most unique and enjoyable paranormal novels I’ve read in a long time.
John and Kay Finbow both grew up on a council estate in the UK and both are ambitious to improve their lot in life through hard work. When John’s writing of screenplays results in unexpected and significant financial success, he aspires to live in a country mansion and leave the familiar council estate. Right from the beginning, Kay has some reservations about the move and leaving behind her familiar environment although she is not close to her four sisters all of whom have busy family lives with their children.
Following their move into the newly renovated mansion, John reveals his strong desire for a child. He is surprised and taken aback by Kay’s revelation that she does not want children. The resultant discord between the couple give Emily, a woman who died childless in 1868 at the age of 25, the opportunity she has been waiting for to connect with a living man. John starts having visions of a young woman asleep in his office and he becomes quite distracted by her. Gradually, his interest enables Emily to become less ghostly and more of a physical apparition and he becomes romantically involved with her. This may sound like a fairly common story line, but what happens next is certainly unlike anything I have ever read before. It was most ingenious and I really take my hat off to the author’s cleverness with this story.
None of the characters in this book were particularly endearing people although Kay does soften over time and decides that having a child wouldn’t be that bad or destroy her life. I had sympathy for Kay because she had seen her own mother worn out with pregnancies and looking after children and she didn’t want to experience the same fate. She overlooked the happiness experienced by her sisters in their child filled lives because she associated children with financial struggles and worry. She had to work through her negative perceptions in this regard and I thought it was the right choice not to embark on something as life changing as a baby while she was uncertain. Kay’s character embodied a lot of the conflict I imagine women might feel having grown up in circumstances where keeping food on the table was a daily struggle. This aspect of the story was true to the author’s usual style of unveiling of social issues and I enjoyed it. The paranormal element was above and beyond and, for me as a reader, it elevated this book into a most unique story.
In the beginning, Emily seemed rather needy and devious as she was prepared to steal another woman’s husband to get what she wanted. As the novel progressed she evolved into one of the creepiest ghosts I’ve encountered to date and I found some parts of this book incredibly eerie.
If you enjoy a dark paranormal read with a side-dish of social commentary, then this book will be right up your street.