Times and Places

Rated 4.30 out of 5 based on 10 customer ratings
(10 customer reviews)

£9.49

  • Author Name: Keith Anthony
  • Publication Date: 28/02/2018
  • Format: Paperback

In stock

Ten years after his daughter Justine’s death, an anxious Fergus embarks on a cruise with his wife. On board, he meets a myriad of characters and is entranced by some, irritated by others and disgusted by one. These turbulent feelings, combined with a sequence of bizarre events, only lead to his increased anxiety.

In a series of flashbacks, Justine enjoys an ultimately short romance, a woman concludes she killed her and an investigating police officer is drawn into her idyllic world. Fergus, haunted by poignant memories, withdraws in search of answers.

Back on the cruise, Fergus reaches breaking point, fearing he has done something terrible. By the time the ship returns, his world has changed forever.

Times and Places spans Atlantic islands, the Chiltern countryside, Cornish coasts and rural Slovenia, all of which provide spectacular backdrops to a humorous and moving tale of quiet spirituality.

Keith Anthony was born and brought up in the Chilterns, to where he returned after studying French at university in Aberystwyth and a subsequent spell living in west London. He has a love of nature, both in his native Buckinghamshire countryside, but also in Cornwall and wherever there is a wild sea.

Keith has been lucky enough to spend time living in France, Spain, Belgium, Serbia and Croatia, as well as being a regular visitor to Germany, and languages were the only thing he was ever half good at in school. Since graduating he has worked in government departments, but between 2005 and 2008 he was seconded to the European Commission in Brussels and, thanks to a friend from Ljubljana he met there, has travelled regularly to Slovenia, getting to know that country well.

Keith’s other great love is music and he plays classical and finger picking blues guitar, though with persistently limited success. He has always enjoyed writing, including attempts at children’s fiction, and in 2016 he began work on his first full book with Times and Places the end result: an accessible, observational story, mixing quiet spirituality with humour, pathos and gothic horror, and setting it against a rich backdrop of the natural world.

10 reviews for Times and Places

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Eleanor Gray

    Fergus is a man troubled by anxieties after the death of his daughter, Justine, ten years ago. This original book has a contemplative style, as well as flashes of humour and poignancy. In alternate chapters, Fergus describes a three week Atlantic cruise where he meets some eccentric passengers and thinks he is responsible for the death of one of them. The reader wanders the ship with him observing the bustling activities going on all around and shares his visits to exotic ports of call. Between these “At sea” chapters, the book describes earlier events in his life and in the lives of the people indirectly connected to him. Readers may be taken aback by the two more spiritual chapters, but they are sincere and reflect the soul searching going on in Fergus’ inner journey. The plot is carefully worked out in smallest detail and a logical explanation found for the most bizarre events as the story gathers momentum and the cruise comes to an end. The curmudgeonly Fergus is capable of revealing a disarming charm and empathy with different people he meets and his comments are insightful. With vivid descriptions of nature and wildlife, this is a thoughtful book to be read again by anyone wanting to escape briefly from the pressures of modern life.

  2. Rated 4 out of 5

    Anky’s Book Bumble

    Times And Places is a book that brings out the extraordinary in ordinary situations. It shows us that even the tiniest happenings can alter our whole future. Justine’s death is shocking because of how it happened. The simple decision of taking a bus led her to her demise. Her story told me that even the most trivial things matter. I loved how so many characters and their various stories were woven together in this beautiful novel. The cruise taken by Fergus and his wife is full of so many beautiful descriptions of equally beautiful places. Times and Places features a myriad of characters, stories and emotions and will leave you with a jumble of feelings!

  3. Rated 4 out of 5

    Sinophile

    This is an unusual and intriguing novel. The author dispenses with a normal approach to suspenseful narrative, making the reader aware almost from the beginning of the impending fate of one of his characters, so that the “what” and the “why” of the event recede in importance, and he can focus instead on the questions and emotions that for years haunt those left behind after a tragedy. The narrative switches chapter by chapter between a present in which a retired couple take a long cruise, and several threads of the past where other characters live out their lives, blending the insignificant, the coincidental, and the meaningful. The cruise chapters are among the best, capturing well the combination of novelty, routine, and even irritation that can make up a three-week stay in a floating hotel where one does not get to choose one’s fellow residents. The novel explores the connections between past, present and future – the times and places of the title – and at first appears to do so a little predictably. But towards the end it pulled the narrative rug out from under my feet, and I had to turn back to one or two earlier passages to appreciate how the pieces had been prepared to fall into place so unexpectedly. Still, this is not a mystery novel, nor even necessarily an ingeniously plotted one. Instead it suggests that there is a web – not always apparent, sometimes surprising, but resilient and ultimately positive – that binds the lives of disparate people. The overtly religious references may not be to everyone’s taste, but there are not many of these, are they are part of the narrator’s compassionate outlook – and, I suspect, the author’s too. If you’re looking for a contemplative read to mull over (on that cruise, perhaps), this is a book to consider.

  4. Rated 4 out of 5

    Jaffra Reads

    Ten years after the death of their only daughter, Fergus and Sylvie embark on a cruise around the beautiful mid-Atlantic. That Justine’s untimely and tragic death has affected them deeply is observed in the way that they quietly attempt to put their lives back together after this devastating loss. The story evolves slowly, highlighting certain moments in Justine’s life and with calm reflection allowing her short time on earth to play out in a meaningful way. The author has a very gentle writing style which allows the emotional aspect of the story to have a profound effect. On some occasions the story reads like a travelogue as Fergus and Sylvie enjoy their Atlantic cruise, taking part in the activities on board ship and looking forward to their visits to different places and observing foreign cultures. Whilst at other times, the story seems almost like a gentle commentary on the vagaries of life, and of the unpredictability of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All is not unhappiness though, as there are some nice splashes of humour amongst the sadness and I enjoyed reading about the other passengers on board the cruise ship, some of whom irritated Fergus with their pettiness and bad manners. I enjoyed the alternate chapters which take us away from Fergus and Sylvie aboard ship and allow us more of a glimpse into the background of the story. And as characters flit into and out of the story during these chapters, so a broader picture is allowed to emerge. I found Times and Places to be a remarkably insightful story with some spiritual references which slotted comfortably into narrative. I was impressed how the themes of love, loss and grief were handled in such a quiet and reflective way.

  5. Rated 4 out of 5

    Felicia Denise

    Bittersweet and beautifully written, Times and Places is an emotional journey for the reader as swell as its protagonist, Fergus Fredricks. Fergus and wife, Sylvie, live every parent’s worst nightmare, losing a child. Twenty-four-year-old Justine Fredricks dies as a result of a freak accident. For the next ten years, her parents merely exist. For Fergus, the anguish is immeasurable, and no amount of mourning seems to help him heal. Taking their first major holiday since Justine’s death—an exotic three-week cruise—will be frustrating, annoying, and emotional for Fergus. It will also be life-changing. Time and Places was an excellent read that drew me right in. The change of time as well as characters in the alternating POVs was seamless and showed each character’s place in the story without unnecessary ‘info dumps.’ It also allows Justine to be a living, breathing character in the story, instead of simply the sad memory of those who loved her.

    The characters are well developed, and while I felt sorry for Fergus, Sylvie, and Jones, my heart broke for Hannah! The agony she lived through so soon after losing her husband… I can’t imagine. Boyfriend, Jones, as well as the parade of characters aboard ship are all well developed and heartfelt. Mrs. Huffington, Richard and Cressida, Gentle Henry and Tabitha, Nicole and Holly… and even the horrid arachnid woman, are all memorable characters who will stay with the reader long after story’s end. While the Fredricks’ tale is a sad one, there are several bright and humorous moments in the story, thanks to British humor. And my laugh-out-loud moment came when I found out who the orange-robed monks were!

    Although I didn’t care for Fergus much in the beginning, he became lovable as his story unfolded and I began to understand him. His emotions ran the gamut during the story. From a simple grieving father to a search to hear God (and a genius scene!), Fergus Fredricks skirts life’s fringes…emotionally and mentally. Enter his anchor, Sylvie Fredricks—my favorite character! No less traumatized at losing her only child, Sylvie appears to be the strong one in the Fredricks’ marriage… just based on her character here. Her musings and internal thoughts aren’t as frequent or in-depth as her husband’s, but Sylvie always seems to be the one trying to ease Fergus’ apprehension… calm him down.

    The loss of a child can devastate a marriage—especially in fiction—when parents lose themselves to grief. It was refreshing to see the opposite portrayed in Times and Places. This read is a journey. Set aside some time… and go to some new places with the Fredricks. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy!

  6. Rated 4 out of 5

    Kris Marie

    I love books that have alternating chapters that bring you along on a characters journey fully. This one alternated between Fergus who is on a cruise with his wife, and Justine, his daughter, from ten years prior. There were a few more spiritual chapter thrown in that really added to the story, but may not be for everyone. I really enjoy books that are descriptive, especially when I haven’t been to the setting of the story. This book left me feeling like I was right alongside Fergus on his cruise and I absolutely loved it.

    Fergus was a very anxiety ridden character, that seemed to question everything. I liked his thoughts on the other passengers who he was, quite literally stuck with for three weeks. He was an extremely haunted character, which works out wonderfully throughout the book. I found that he was a very compassionate man and a character I grew to really enjoy…

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    The Secret World of a Book Blog

    The overall story is about grief and the guilt that follows this. I don’t believe we talk about death enough, as people feel that it’s a morbid topic, but I don’t believe that. I believe it has to be discussed so we have an understanding on what everyone’s wishes are to enable family members to fulfil this. My favourite character was Fergus as I could feel his raw emotion and sadness of losing his daughter at such a young age, but with Keith’s writing I felt that I knew Justine so well as if she was telling the story…

  8. Rated 4 out of 5

    Jordana Lansman

    Times and Places takes a gentle, empathetic approach to its characters’ paths of grief. In the spirit of such like-minded books as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Anthony strikes finds a compassionate balance for his fragile characters between nurturing their losses, honoring their quirks, and introducing new possibilities and experiences for the considerable healing and life potential still ahead of them.

    Walking the path of another’s grief is an act of empathy, courage, and trust for a reader. Times and Places is good for it, paving a soothing if not curative bridge from dysfunction and anguish to recuperation and recovery. Fergus and Sylvie will never heal from their loss; who could? But life will be bearable again, and the book’s journey that brings them back to bearable, even pleasurable, existence is one worth taking with them.

  9. Rated 4 out of 5

    Boston Book Reader

    I love books that have alternating chapters that bring you along on a characters journey fully. This one alternated between Fergus who is on a cruise with his wife, and Justine, his daughter, from ten years prior. There were a few more spiritual chapter thrown in that really added to the story, but may not be for everyone. I really enjoy books that are descriptive, especially when I haven’t been to the setting of the story. This book left me feeling like I was right alongside Fergus on his cruise and I absolutely loved it.

    Fergus was a very anxiety ridden character, that seemed to question everything. I liked his thoughts on the other passengers who he was, quite literally stuck with for three weeks. He was an extremely haunted character, which works out wonderfully throughout the book. I found that he was a very compassionate man and a character I grew to really enjoy.

    I loved the way everything seemed to fall into place, pretty unexpectedly, in my opinion. I felt the book was a bit slow in certain sections, but that didn’t deter me from the story one bit. I would definitely pick up any other books by this author, because I enjoy his writing style very much.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Writing on the Walls

    This book is a journey of emotions mainly written through a father’s eyes but every now and then we go back and see it through others perspectives. Everything is linked and everyone has a story to tell. It’s a very spiritual journey, the writer has a great way of making you feel for all the characters in the book. It is a book that has definitely given me food for thought…

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