Running Behind Time is the second book I have read by Jan Turk Petrie. I was lucky enough to be invited on the #blogtour for The Truth in a Lie and was thrilled to be invited back for Running Behind Time! I was intrigued when I read the blurb as the story is set during the current pandemic and I haven’t read very many books which do more than reference it as an event, although I suppose it is relatively early days as we are still living it!
Beth and Tom are the two main characters in Running Behind Time. We meet Beth and her boyfriend Kyle in 1982 as they wait for a solar eclipse. It is a very brief introduction as we then move on to meet Tom – he is living with his mother as he has been furloughed from his job and didn’t fancy spending lockdown alone in his flat so quickly moved back in with his mother. Their relationship appears slightly strained with some passive aggressive comments between the two. It is hard to establish if this is the usual patter of their relationship or if this is what has come after months of living together in lockdown after he had previously flown the nest. When Tom decides to go to London to meet a friend who might be able to help him find a job, he leaves on fairly bad terms. On the train is where strange things begin to happen! One minute they are passing through a tunnel on a relatively empty train; the next, as Tom returns towards his seat from a trip to the loo, it is packed and no one is social distancing!
I think this is a really clever idea for a story – mixing the bizarreness of modern life with a time slip. Of the two characters, I initially felt that Beth was much more likeable of the two. She is sassy and doesn’t allow herself to be spoken down to or bullied, although she is finding work a little trying due to an overzealous director. Tom initially is a bit difficult to warm to but as the story progresses, once he meets Beth I started to warm to him much more. He had the option to walk away and leave her to figure out what was going on but he went out of his way to help and support her.
It will perhaps sound a little odd but I did enjoy reading about the pandemic! There had been some easing of restrictions during the time it is set so there are still some vaguely ‘normal’ activities going on but it still reflected the unusualness of what life has become. The time wrinkle element allows a nice element of escapism but the current day setting makes it feel relatable and believable (if that doesn’t sound too contradictory). As I often mention, I love multiple character point of view stories so this got lots of thumbs up from me as it was told by both Beth and Tom. Although I wasn’t yet born, 1982 really doesn’t feel that long ago so it was fascinating to reflect upon what has changed since then, and again in the last twelve months. Running Behind Time unfolded in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I very much liked this! This was a quirky and nicely told story, well worth getting a copy and enjoying the inadvertent adventures of Beth and Tom!
About Jan Turk Petrie: Jan is a writer based in the Cotswolds area of England (UK). She is the author of seven published novels. You can read more about her books on her website https://janturkpetrie.com and follow her on Twitter @TurkPetrie