Ask a bookseller

Ask a Bookseller: ‘The Ministry of Time’ by Kaliane Bradley

Ask a Bookseller Podcast

On The Thread’s Ask a Bookseller series, we talk to independent booksellers all over the country to find out what books they’re most excited about right now. 

Looking for a novel you can pass around to your friends and family at the next gathering?

Tiffany Lauderdale Phillips of Wild Geese Bookshop in Franklin, Ind., recommends Kaliane Bradley’s debut novel “The Ministry of Time.” She calls it a time-travel romance with a James Bond element, with beautiful writing and ideas that will leave you with plenty to talk about over dinner. 

The premise is that a ministry in England has decided to take five people from history who would have died and to plant them into modern-day England, ostensibly to study the feasibility of time travel.

Book cover
"The Ministry of Time: A Novel" by Kaliane Bradley.
Courtesy Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster

One is an Arctic adventurer from a doomed voyage, another was at the Battle of the Somme, etc. A “bridge” is assigned to live with each person and help them adjust to daily life. Our narrator is paired with the Arctic explorer, who has Victorian ideas about how a man and a woman living together should comport themselves.  

Tiffany says: It’s lovely. There’s really great natural chemistry and tension between the two of them. But also, it’s just as interesting from a character-development standpoint, as it is from a plot perspective.

It’s not often that in a plot-compelling novel, I find myself underlining sentences or passages and appreciating the writing on the sentence level. I think Kaliane has really done a beautiful job with this debut. 

I couldn’t put it down. It’s a one-sit read, and it’s also a read that I think you could pass around to the adults with you on your family vacation and everyone would get something different out of it and enjoy it. It would be great for after-dinner conversation.

The novel does make you think, in the end, about our lives and how we impact the present and the future, and the choices that we make.

— Tiffany Lauderdale Phillips 

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