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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: TIME & TIME AGAIN, Ben Elton

“A surprisingly moving and thought-provoking read”


If you had one chance to change history...Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?

It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?


The last time I was a fan of Ben Elton’s I was in my teens, watching him do one of his stand ups where he barely drew breath. It is always an interesting one when celebrities turn to writing, as it can be a double-edged sword of encouraging fans to buy the books, but also putting some people off. I was put off. After reading Stark, an offering by Elton from his early novel-writing days, I didn’t bother again.

That is, until I was asked to review Time and Time Again.

The premise is an interesting one, although admittedly it has been visited, well, time and time again by writers and film-makers. If you could go back and change one moment in history, just one, would you? And what would you change?

The result is a surprisingly moving and thought-provoking read – as well as being funny in places. Elton sketches characters and scenes with real wit and insight, and the addition of Isaac Newton as a character is a delight.

This may be a familiar premise, but the story is new, engaging and involving. It is also very timely, given the commemorations for the centenary of the First World War…

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