The End of Yesterday
In this novel, Analise Stern travels to Europe in the 1930s, chasing after a hard-won fiance, Jacob, who went to serve in the Spanish Civil War. Sheltered and petite, Analise is seen by most ill-suited for the rigors of nursing, a profession she chose to be close to Jacob, a medical doctor. However, while travelling to Spain, Analise’s plans to meet up with Jacob and work with him are derailed when she encounters and is unaccountably drawn to Mark, another passenger. He is black, and their relationship shocks the entire ship. However, neither can fight it as they find their way into each other’s dreams, literally: dreams of some undefined past which they experience as deja-vu. The dreams become clearer and more detailed as their bond develops and more of their past comes out.
The narrative flows well, with clearly depicted characters in well-defined scenes. The prose is without unnecessary flourishes, the focus on the story. As the narrative moves forward, Mark and Analise are drawn deeper and deeper into the current war even as memories of an ancient war they served in together surface. At a friend’s urging, Mark visits a medium on the ship. Mediums and seances were popular during the era of the story, so this does not seem strained. The medium knows the guilt Mark feels for not saving someone in a distant past he doesn’t even remember. At times in the same scene, the point of view switches from one character to another, usually considered a no-no in fiction, but this isn’t too distracting overall. Included in the story are several of Analise’s letters home to her mother. Letters between characters in novels usually don’t work well for me, as they seem an awkward plot device, but, here, they don’t carry the narrative, they simply reveal parts of Analise’s character and her relationship with her mother.
There is a satisfying character arc in Analise—the mild-mannered girl who was judged too weak—mentally and physically—for nursing and chases after a fiancé who doesn’t even love her matures into a woman of independent will. Overall, the story is compelling and difficult to put down.
First Edition Design Publishing