The Ministry of Time

Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time
Format
Paperback
Publisher
Hodder & Stoughton
Country
United Kingdom
Published
14 May 2024
Pages
368
ISBN
9781399726351

The Ministry of Time

Kaliane Bradley

A boy meets a girl. The past meets the future. A finger meets a tirgger. The beginning meets the end.

In the near future, a disaffected civil servant is offered a lucrative job in a mysterious new government ministry gathering 'expats' from across history to test the limits of time-travel.

Her role is to work as a 'bridge': living with, assisting and monitoring the expat known as '1847' - Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition to the Arctic, so he's a little disoriented to find himself alive and surrounded by outlandish concepts such as 'washing machine', 'Spotify' and 'the collapse of the British Empire'. With an appetite for discovery and a seven-a-day cigarette habit, he soon adjusts; and during a long, sultry summer he and his bridge move from awkwardness to genuine friendship, to something more.

But as the true shape of the project that brought them together begins to emerge, Gore and the bridge are forced to confront their past choices and imagined futures. Can love triumph over the structures and histories that have shaped them? And how do you defy history when history is living in your house?

Review

Commander Graham Gore, inquisitive and stubborn explorer of the arctic, was supposed to die in 1847. Instead, a mysterious government ministry selects him, alongside a small handful of other individuals from different times throughout history, to be brought forward into the near future. They are part of the first test run of a time-travel program.

An unnamed narrator, who works for this mysterious government ministry, is assigned the position of ‘bridge’ to Commander Gore. As a bridge, her job is to help him acclimatise to the modern world. It seems like a straightforward enough task – teach Commander Gore about technology and social norms, while monitoring his health to watch for any side effects of time travel. But as the relationship between the bridge and Commander Gore changes, she begins to question the ethics of the ministry. What is the real reason for the time-travel project? Who is she actually working for? Can we change the course of history? Should we?

This book absolutely consumed me. I could not put it down, nor could I stop thinking about it. Exquisite attention to detail, combined with clever storytelling, made me laugh, made me cry, made me want to throw the book across the room in frustration. At times the writing gives so little, yet so much; it constantly left me yearning for more. Cleverly intertwining themes of immigration and time travel, the narrator expresses the complexities of a mixed-race identity in a modern world. She remains unnamed throughout the story, shrouding her in mystery and leaving the reader wanting more.

This book is strange, funny and unique. It is about identity, belonging, home, learning, rights, war, human nature and ethics. Perhaps best of all, it is about love. I have no doubt that this excellent debut novel will be much read and loved.

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