Books Set Across Centuries: Background information when reading The Everlasting

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The Everlasting

by Katy Simpson Smith

The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith X
The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2020, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2021, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Books Set Across Centuries

This article relates to The Everlasting

Print Review

Katy Simpson Smith's novel The Everlasting is set entirely in Rome, but it takes place across multiple centuries, introducing us to separate storylines in 2015, 1559, 896, and 165. Here are some other noteworthy books that are set in one location spanning multiple centuries.

The Pillars of the EarthThe Kingsbridge Series by Ken Follett
Originally published in 1989, The Pillars of the Earth is set in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England in 1135. It follows the family of mason Tom Builder, who is commissioned to construct a cathedral grander than the world has ever seen. At nearly a thousand pages, it's an epic, sprawling multi-family saga on its own, but Follett continued the story of Kingsbridge in his follow-up, World Without End, published in 2007. This novel is set in 1327 and follows the descendants of the key characters from The Pillars of the Earth. A third novel, A Column of Fire, set in 1558, was published in 2017. There is a fourth installment, a prequel set in 997, called The Evening and Morning. It is due to release in Fall 2020.

UnshelteredUnsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver's 2018 novel has two timelines narrated in alternating chapters: one in the present-day and one in the 1870s. Both set in New Jersey, the present-day storyline follows Willa Knox, a recently unemployed woman who takes on the project of researching the history of her home. The second storyline features one of the home's previous occupants, Thatcher Greenwood, a schoolteacher and scientist in a feud with a powerful landowner, Captain Landis (a real-life historical figure).

HereHere by Richard McGuire
Initially a six-page comic strip published in 1989, Here was conceived as a brief story about the corner of a room, giving snapshots of its inhabitants from 73 BCE to 2313 AD. Author and illustrator McGuire expanded the piece into a full-length graphic novel in 2014, telling the story of a single room across thousands of years.

The Maze at WindermereThe Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
Probably the most similar to The Everlasting in structure, The Maze at Windermere, published in 2018, introduces the reader to a storyline set in the present-day. Each subsequent chapter goes back in time, first to 1896, then 1863, 1778 and 1692. The Maze at Windermere takes place in Newport, Rhode Island and features a combination of fictional characters and real-life figures, including the author Henry James.

UlvertonUlverton by Adam Thorpe:
Like Follett, Thorpe fictionalizes an English village in his 1992 novel, and tells the story from the points-of-view of its inhabitants across the centuries, beginning with a shepherd who is a contemporary of Oliver Cromwell, and culminating with a property developer living in the time of Margaret Thatcher's rule.

The Bass RockThe Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
Set in Scotland, the three narratives in Wyld's novel focus on a young woman accused of being a witch in the 1700s, a newly married woman in the aftermath of WWII, and a woman in the present-day mourning the loss of her father. The Bass Rock was published in February 2020 in the UK and in September 2020 in the US.

Filed under Reading Lists

Article by Rachel Hullett

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Everlasting. It originally ran in April 2020 and has been updated for the March 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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