Running Behind Time

Fiction - Time Travel
332 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2021
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Author Biography

I used to teach in English in London and have an MA in creative Writing. I now live in the countryside in the Cotswolds - the area of the UK this book is partly set in.
This is my seventh published novel. Running Behind Time is my first time-slip story. Written in lockdown, the whole thing began as a short story and grew from there.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

Tom Brookes had to return to his mother’s home in Stoatsfield, located in the Cotswolds. It was July 2020, and he was on furlough from his job at a travel agency, due to the coronavirus. In July 1982, Beth Sawyer who lived in East Sussex was juggling a new acting role and the ending of a love relationship. How these two meet and how they cope with time travel occurrences comprises the main plot of this intriguing book. Author Jan Turk Petrie has penned a fascinating tale in Running Behind Time. Unlike many time travel stories where the characters move between several centuries, this one only spans thirty-eight years. Yet, the many differences between the eras, such as personal computers, cellphones, and even British currency are amazing to ponder. This is exacerbated even more by cultural changes due to the pandemic.

Another feature of the plot is the mysterious aspects related to the time travel happenings. Tom sees the same people in both eras, and they often seem curiously strange. Relationships between the main characters also captivate the reader. Tom’s relationship with his mother is both strained and positive; she has never been forthcoming with information about his father. The relationship that grows between Tom and Beth, who were born decades apart, has many complexities. The author writes in a clear and concise manner, tying all these components together in an adventurous read. Running Behind Time, written by Jan Turk Petrie, is an entertaining, thrilling book – don’t miss it!

Lucinda E Clarke

Running Behind Time by Jan Turk Petrie is a time travel novel set in 2020 during the Covid era and 1983. While traveling to London for a job interview, Tom inadvertently slips back 38 years as the train enters a tunnel that later he cannot find on the map. As he alights at Paddington Station, he is shocked to discover no mobile phones, his money is unacceptable and the world is quite different. There is no way he can survive in this new environment and frightened and out of time, he rushes to catch the train back home. He meets an aspiring actress named Beth on the return journey and the time slip happens again, only now it’s Beth who is out of sync with her world, catapulted 38 years into the future. Despite their best efforts, the attraction is there, but how can they live in two different time zones?

I chose to read and review Running Behind Time by Jan Turk Petrie for two reasons. I’ve tried a few time travel books before and was curious about this one. I was also interested in the Cotswold setting as I’m familiar with the area. I can’t fault this book. The characters are well-drawn, the dialogue believable, and I enjoyed the descriptions of both time frames. The author included imagery that set the scene, and although the ending was not a great surprise, I was getting nervous as I approached the last few pages, hoping that all would be resolved, which for the most part it was. Beautifully written, well-edited and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A well-deserved 5 stars.

Grant Leishman

Running Behind Time by Jan Turk Petrie is a time-slip story with a slight difference. Beth Sawyer is an aspiring young actress living in London in the summer of 1982. Just cast as the lead in a new play, albeit a small production, she is excited that her career is finally beginning to get some traction. Deciding to visit her favorite aunt, she heads to the station to catch the train for Cheltenham. Meanwhile, in the summer of 2020, Tom Brooks is living out the lockdown from the Coronavirus pandemic at his mother’s cottage in the countryside rather than his small, lonely flat in Bristol. Furloughed from his job as a travel agent, Tom is bored and frustrated with his inactivity, and when a good mate texts him about a possible job in London, Tom decides to go and check it out. When he arrives for the train, there are very few passengers due to the pandemic and Tom settles back for a quiet ride to the city. Somewhere in a tunnel, whilst Tom is in the toilet, something weird happens and when Tom emerges back into the carriage, it is now chock-a-block full with passengers and none of them are masked. What on earth is happening, Tom wonders. By the time he disembarks at Paddington Station, it is clear the world has shifted somewhat and Tom has ended up back in 1982. How will he regain his own time and what part will Beth play in this unfolding saga?

Running Behind Time is a pleasant, easy-to-read, time travel story that is up-to-date and relevant to today’s social situation. Author Jan Turk Petrie has created two totally relatable characters in Beth and Tom, whose demeanors are perfectly appropriate for their individual time periods. I particularly loved the horror Tom experienced in 1982, with the constant pall of cigarette smoke in his eyes wherever he went and the lack of personal space that prior to the pandemic was the norm but now fills him with fear and dread. Beth’s denial of reality and her panic over the possibility that she had shifted time was wonderfully portrayed and it was so easy for a reader to put themselves in her place and feel the empathy and emotions she was experiencing. The story takes a relatively predictable path, in some ways, but the author does an excellent job of hiding the reality of the situation from the reader until late in the narrative. This is a compelling story and can be read in a single sitting (as I did). For a bit of fantasy and suspension of reality in these tough times, with a story that is topical for today, this is a winner. The potential for time travel has always been a fascinating subject for many and if you are one of those, I know you’ll love this offering. I did and I can highly recommend it.