Gwyneth Sheperd's life has been quite ordinary & she's very thankful for that fact. In a family that passes a time-traveling gene through the women, Gwyneth has counted herself very fortunate to have been skipped & only have the misfortune of seeing ghosts & spirits. Her cousin Charlotte, the one whose birthday Sir Issac Newton himself predicted, has been the one preparing for her first time travel experience. She has taken fencing lessons, riding lessons, learned several languages & spent a great deal of time studying history so as to be prepared for any situation in which she might find herself. But it appears that even the great Sir Newton can be faulted.
It turns out that Gwyneth actually does have the gene & she is therefore extremely ill-prepared when she sudden finds herself in another time period. Now Gwyneth must accept her position in a very secretive society, known as the Guardians, where no one can be trusted & secrets lie around every corner. With a stead-fast side kick doing research on the side & a stunning male companion to help her through her elapses (when she actually does go back in time), Gwyneth is sure to sort things out. At least... she hopes.
Ruby Red was a different kind of time-travel tale. I really enjoyed the historical tidbits spread throughout the book including times, places & people that we rarely think about. Gwyneth is the perfect person for a narrator in this story because as she learns more, we learn more. You can actually put the puzzle together as the story moves forward. There are so many details that one can easily become lost in them, but the beauty is that not every single little thing is important. We experience the thrill of determining if a factoid is important or not with Gwyneth.
Even more fun than exploring these details with Gwyneth, is the descriptive language. I was enamored with the lavish descriptions Gier used for the different time periods, outfits & mannerisms. There are some historical actions/attitudes that cannot be adequately described with modern language. Gier does a wonderful job of choosing just the right verbs or phrases to convey whatever point she wants to get across to the reader.
I must admit that the book took a little while to get going for me & it seems to stop just as the action is picking up, but I think that may be due in part to the translation. There is a lot of backstory to be filled in & characters to be introduced, so the beginning felt a little sluggish, but it was worth it in the end. This book seems to suffer from "stick shift learner," there's some coughing & sputtering when you first start off, but by the end it's smooth sailing.
If you're in the mood for a newer take on a classic storyline, be sure to check out Ruby Red. Anyone else feel this was an awesome time-travel/adventure story?
ARC supplied by Henry Holt & Co. via Shelf Awareness