Review by ttuso22 -- The Watchmaker’s Doctor

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Review by ttuso22 -- The Watchmaker’s Doctor

Post by ttuso22 »

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Watchmaker’s Doctor" by G. M. T. Schuilling.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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It is a curious thing to go back in time and live with memories from a life that hasn’t happened yet. Some instances it brings a premature wisdom, giving our main character Anaya an edge against life. In other areas, it chokes her with a fear of what could be. But is the fear of what could happen reason enough to play it safe in her second chance at life?

The Watchmaker’s Doctor by G.M.T. Shuilling chronicles the life of Anaya Jones, a doctor who lives with Bipolar II and tragically finds her life ending sooner than she expected. However, a mysterious watchmaker, named Gregory, enters into her life just in time to give her a second chance. For he has created a watch that reverses time at the moment of death and with Gregory’s help, sends her deep into her past.

Now, eighteen years back, she has the opportunity to rewrite what she believes her wrongs were and change what life she fears to come. As she looks back through the eyes of a teenager with the mind of an adult, Anaya is humbled in a way. Her reflections soften her. They make her aware of the attitudes she once chose. And they give her time to see what a few right choices she can make.

Anaya’s second life gives her a chance to go to college and pursue a career in teaching, to manage her Bipolar II, and find healing in relationships. But along the way, she notices that her choices change the way the new reality plays out, interfering with her parents’ lives and her friends Kait and Tay. Even in trying to make right decisions, negative consequences still play out and Anaya is forced to listen to her friends on the wisdom of accepting happiness for herself and seeing the good even in the most tragic circumstances. It is also these changes that help her father through his own mental illness and help her family through bankruptcy, in turn changing certain pathways of her friends. But the only thing she can’t do is cheat death. And it is this reality that haunts her all the way into the present.

With a twist building up into the end, The Watchmaker’s Doctor is narrated through glimpses into Anaya’s life. Flashes of moments play out in each of the twenty-four chapters, detailing choices she makes and its effects, often causing Anaya to blame herself for the things that go wrong. The stress of knowing what is to come is captured terrifyingly in this short but thoughtful novella. And it is quotes like this: “Looking back at the future didn’t seem to work the way as the past,” (Page 26) that seem to draw me into the ingenuity of the author. Even watching hardship knit her family together reveals a unique perspective: trials can deepen relationships if people share them together—a theme which remains throughout the novel.

I enjoyed watching the story unravel itself through the relationships of Ana and her father, her and her friends and the ways they struggle together through seasons, and finally in a relationship with Matt that is threatened by memories of what could be. Additionally, the intentionality of the author to dig into mental illness and its importance of awareness during one’s life separates this book from others. The novella presents a realistic understanding of Bipolar II that gives a new side to a protagonist. And cleverly causes conflict in the stresses of her new life.

What I disliked most, however, was the quickness of the novella. It simply felt like I was watching snippets of someone’s life and barely had time to understand the character, albeit the snapshots were pivotal to the story’s unfolding and gave one enough understanding of the plot to fly through the chapters with Anaya. Perhaps it was the author’s intention to do so, mimicking the flashbacks of life we often feel our life becomes as we age beyond our youth. Regardless, though, it limited my ability to feel as connected to Anaya as I could have felt had there been more prose into her life.

I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Like I mentioned before, I felt the author could have expanded on the story and developed the characters more lengthily. On the other hand, it is my opinion that the author captured this unique coming-of-age story creatively and both effectively. Hence, I think a 3 is an appropriate score to give such a story. Perhaps I will have to just find myself into the story’s sequel if I want a deeper character study of Anaya. I will, however, finish with one of my favorite quotes of the story, that seemed to haunt me in its timely and bold wisdom.

“How readily we crush our dreams, without even turning the first stone, so willing to be the victims of circumstance.” (P. 27)

The Watchmaker’s Doctor
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If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison
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Post by angiejack456 »

I read this book as well and had a hard time connecting with Anaya. Which is unfortunate, because I really enjoyed the ideas presented in the book. Thanks for your review!
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