What Time is Love?
Review: Lauren O’Connor-May
At its core, What Time is Love? is a philosophical love story with strong feminist messages.
This debut novel by Holly Williams is made up of three separate stories about a couple. Each story plays out in a different decade.
Albert and Violet are exactly the same age in every story.
In each alternate reality, told in different decades, the 20-year-olds have a star-struck, soulmate meeting, fall in love and try to build a life as a couple.
The philosophical question the book asks is, can the radical, English, historically wealthy Albert, sustain a relationship with the free-spirited, Welsh, working-class Violet and vice versa? Can the challenges they face be overcome and would the decade they are born in make a difference?
Each section starts with the birth of the couple, on the same date, and then follows their story after they finally have their meet-cute. The first is set in the post-war 1950s, the second in the swinging 70s and the last in the 90s.
Williams’ concept for storytelling is unique – or at least I have never come across another book in the same format. I liked the concept and I think, in another life, it could work excellently as a screen-play too.
Williams’ writing is poetic and witty but despite this, I didn’t enjoy the book, possibly because I disagree with the stories’ dark portrayal of marriage, monogamy and family.
The author colours these concepts as mostly parasitic in the book, which made it unpleasant reading for me.