Did you have trouble following the timeline?

Use this forum to discuss the October Book of the Month "McDowell" by William H. Coles.
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a9436
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Did you have trouble following the timeline?

Post by a9436 » 21 Oct 2018, 10:29

I think McDowell is the first book for which I have managed to completely lose track of its timeframe. Take Billy and Tasha - their pregnancy is discovered, and then we hear that the child is born and Billy has become estranged, yet from the other plot points I had no idea that so much time had passed between these two events. I also have no concept of how long Hiram spent with Maud and her family, although I admit I may have missed this.

Did you also lose track of the progression of time? If so, did it have have much influence of your opinion of the writing or plot? I felt surprised at times by how many months had passed, but I would not say that it spoiled my enjoyment of the book.

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Post by SienaStein » 21 Oct 2018, 14:31

Oh my gosh... Yes! Even on page 1 it says Hiram's 2nd wife died in summer of 1999 and he married Carole 2 years later. The next heading is 1999 but he is already married to Carole for some time. I had to read it a few times and came to the conclusion it's an error.
I also find throughout the book that gaps in time aren't indicated. For example, Carole is waiting for him to get off a plane so she can talk to him about Tasha and Billie. We're reading about that, then in the next line they're at dinner and eating. There wasn't even a line break to let us know time will be skipped. I think this is my least favourite thing about the book to be honest.

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Post by Samisah » 21 Oct 2018, 16:28

This was an issue. Although it really doesn't distort the the plot, it did make me lose a bit interest. One minute was lonely and was saved by a new best friend. The next minute we find she had a lover who seemed to have existed without our prior notice. It's just tiring

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Post by Bavithra M » 22 Oct 2018, 03:22

Yes, the author failed to mention the timeframe im the book. It was difficult to find out how much time has passed between the scenarios.
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Life In Books
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Post by Life In Books » 22 Oct 2018, 07:45

I did not have any trouble following the timeline. The flow of the story was smooth enough to make it an interesting and easy-to-read novel.

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Post by sonya01 » 22 Oct 2018, 09:31

While I agree completely with all these comments about the unclear timeline, I think the reason why the Author gets away with it, is that he drives the story forward at such a pace, the timings suddenly become secondary. Perhaps inserting dates or months at the start of each sub-heading could avoid much confusion. Certain obvious discrepancies like the 1999 date should be cleared up because that is an obvious error. I must say, none of this affected my enjoyment of this novel in any way.

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Post by Ctcntry4 » 22 Oct 2018, 11:57

I had an incredibly hard time following the time frame and that is one of the biggest negatives of this book in my opinion. I wish the author would have kept going with the year at the beginning of each chapter and maybe even just a month or season.

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Post by Amy+++ » 22 Oct 2018, 12:38

While the book sounds interesting and thrilling, the confusing time lines might make it hard to read. They might also slow the book down.

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Post by Ijeoma Kikelomo » 22 Oct 2018, 14:21

Very true. Although the inconsistency in the timeline doesn't detract from the flow of the book

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Post by Georgia Lyonhyde » 22 Oct 2018, 20:33

I would lose track of time but found the story would then mention a detail and bring it back. I think there were a few errors from time to time but they were quickly bulldozed over. The book does require close reading if one is to keep up.
You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
–Paul Sweeney :tiphat:

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Post by Keevan » 23 Oct 2018, 11:56

SienaStein wrote:
21 Oct 2018, 14:31
Oh my gosh... Yes! Even on page 1 it says Hiram's 2nd wife died in summer of 1999 and he married Carole 2 years later. The next heading is 1999 but he is already married to Carole for some time. I had to read it a few times and came to the conclusion it's an error.
I also find throughout the book that gaps in time aren't indicated. For example, Carole is waiting for him to get off a plane so she can talk to him about Tasha and Billie. We're reading about that, then in the next line they're at dinner and eating. There wasn't even a line break to let us know time will be skipped. I think this is my least favourite thing about the book to be honest.
I thought I was the only one who started off confused, lol. Rereading things a couple of times helped me have a better understanding. :D

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Post by Italiansweety1982 » 23 Oct 2018, 15:14

Yes, it was difficult

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Post by gfowle » 23 Oct 2018, 19:07

This was one of the biggest problems that I had with this book, as the various plot lines were not linked together very well. For me, this was a huge distraction, because the various plots are somewhat crucial to being able to understand the progression of McDowell's change.

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Post by Samy Lax » 23 Oct 2018, 23:19

Very true. The timeline was all over the place. However, the tone and pace of the book kept my interest alive right till the end.
“If you're reading this...
Congratulations, you're alive.
If that's not something to smile about,
then I don't know what is.”
― Chad Sugg, Monsters Under Your Head

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Post by Kishor Rao » 24 Oct 2018, 00:51

Yes, catching up with the timeline was a bit difficult. But whenever I read the story from different perspectives of different characters, I understood whether it was linear or a considerable time had passed.
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