BookBrowse Reviews The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Map of Time

A Novel

by Felix J. Palma

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 624 pages
    Jun 2012, 640 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book



An adventurous novel in which H. G. Wells has to travel through time to rescue literary classics from extinction

Reading literature in translation feels like being let in on a secret that other people the world over already know. It used to be that "Literature in Translation" was reserved for Big, Important Books - Nobel-prize winning authors, classics originally written in Russian or French. But more recently, with the rise in popularity of international books, like the many crime novels set in Scandinavian countries, or children's fantasy novels such as those by Cornelia Funke or Antonia Michaelis, the English speaking world is finally starting to figure it out - people the world over appreciate, and write, darn good stories in a variety of genres. Félix J. Palma's The Map of Time, originally published in Spain in 2008, is now available in English, and readers will be thrilled to discover this "secret" treasure, already beloved in Europe.

Like the time machine at the center of Palma's story, his novel transports readers to an evocative, fully realized time and place - London in the late nineteenth century. There we meet a variety of characters, both imaginary and real: Henry James, Jack the Ripper, the Elephant Man, and, most importantly, H. G. Wells, the author of such novels as The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Time Machine (see "Beyond the Book"). Not surprisingly, as Palma is revered as a master of the short story form, this hefty novel is more or less three separate narratives, linked primarily by the character of H. G. Wells and, more thematically, by the topic of time travel.

In the first story, a despondent young man longs to travel back in time to save his beloved from a gruesome fate. In the second, an independent, headstrong Victorian woman falls head over heels in love with a man from the year 2000. And in the final episode, H. G. Wells himself must investigate how to save the future of literature - including his own work, The Invisible Man. In every case, Palma cleverly illustrates how little is as it seems, championing the power of imagination even as he creates a world firmly grounded in rich historical detail.

Palma is clearly an accomplished storyteller - the novel's fast pacing, imaginative exploits, and unexpected twists and turns make each story a fascinating piece in its own right; combined, the work is both an utterly perfect summer read and an extended meditation on the permeability of time and the limitations of technology, as seen through the lens of the Victorian age.

Palma's narrator is sophisticated, an amalgamation of Dickensian omniscience and the knowing wink of postmodernism. He often steps outside the action to comment on it, and on his own narrative techniques. The result is a playful storytelling method that nevertheless feels true to its historical roots.

A darkly sweeping epic set in the often grim and hidden back streets of nineteenth century London might not seem like an obvious beach read. But The Map of Time, with its deep romanticism and lush storytelling - not to mention its air of shadowy fantasy - will appeal to readers who like a little magic and mystery with their sun and sand.

Watch for Palma's next novel, The Map of the Sky - a novel that again casts H.G. Wells in a leading role as the extraterrestrial invasion featured in The War of the Worlds turns into a bizarre reality - coming in hardcover, September 2012.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in August 2011, and has been updated for the June 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  H. G. Wells

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people... but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

Modal popup -