What Time is Love?

Written by Holly Williams
Review by Simon Rickman

What if two people, born at exactly the same minute, on the same day, in the same year, but miles apart socially and geographically, were to meet at university aged twenty and fall in love? Then, what if we could follow the very same couple, re-born under exactly the same circumstances but twenty years later; and then again twenty years after that? This unlikely conceit delivers an interesting chronicle of half a century’s social transformation as we watch their relationship develop and re-develop against the changing backdrop of social, political and emotional pressures in each respective era. Initially it’s the late 1940s when mid-Wales miner’s daughter Letty meets Bertie, a Tory peer’s son, and they embark on a journey through class and gender expectations, infidelity and miscarriage. Next, the 1960s ‘reincarnation’ features the same young couple, now Violet and Al, on the hippy acid scene in swinging London and San Francisco, with underground magazines, women’s lib and open relationships; thereafter the 1980s version brings Vi and Albert’s involvement with the rave drug culture, eco-warriors, squatters, bi-curiosity and New Labour.

Each rendition vividly demonstrates the major changes witnessed during the later 20th century, how emancipation progressed as class expectations diminished, how our lives became so much more complicated, how love is ever an underlying constant, enduring and persisting despite the contemporary social and political pressures put upon lovers. The result is a well-documented, quirky, yet romantic in-depth study of deep feelings. A very fine debut.