Mercer Street is John Heldt’s seventh novel and the second in his “American Journey” series.
When I reviewed the first John A. Heldt book I declared I had found a new favourite author. He hasn’t disappointed me with Mercer Street. I also said that I was not a time travel fan but Heldt’s books are different. They are free from technical gadgetry that can put a time travel story into the sci-fi genre.
Heldt writes with an obvious love of history and this is where his strength lies. His attention to detail in both historical facts and characters is impeccable.
In 1938 there was considerable unrest in Europe with Hitler dominating the scene but no real indication that the USA would enter the war brewing although the government kept an eye on the situation.
In 2016 the unrest that Mercer Street begins with is the disquiet of three women; Elizabeth the grandmother and matriarch, Susan a mother and a novelist and her daughter Amanda the historian who has just finished college. Following the death of Susan’s husband they are holidaying in California when they meet a professor who introduces them the idea that time travel is possible.
They take him up on his offer to send them back to 1938 where Elizabeth can meet her family from the past including her toddler self. Both Susan and Amanda fall in love with men of that time. In Susan’s case, she struggles with trusting a man after discovering just before his death that her husband had been having an affair. Amanda’s love is for a young German with a mysterious background is complicated by the situation in Europe and adds more mystery.
All three characters are strong, intelligent, courageous and believable as they thoroughly enjoy their adventure but need to deal with decisions about love found in their new world and avoiding action that will change the future. I must add that the love scenes do not get over physical and, I believe, suitable for young teens to read.
The many other characters are well thought out and fit the story and era perfectly. John’s use of a variety of historical events is careful and considered as is the introduction of real people like Eleonore Roosevelt. He even manages to include Orson Wells’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.
To add much more to a description of the story line would border on a spoiler but trust me Mercer Street has plenty of twists and turns to intrigue the reader.
Like all John Heldt’s books I have read to date, Mercer Street flows smoothly and consistently. You travel back in time along with the characters because his descriptions are so clear they leave an impression on the senses.
But, his greatest strength as a writer is the extensive research that obviously goes into his work resulting in a story that both entertains and teaches. His creativity his highlighted by the final and very agreeable twist at the end
Thank you, John, for yet another wonderful adventure into the past. I wish you continued success.
My rating 5*