A review by Annabelle Lee
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by American author Margarita Montimore is a new twist on the time travel genre. Based on the concept of a life lived out of order, we follow Oona Lockhart as she suddenly jumps through time at the moment she turns 19. Consciously she is still 19 but suddenly finds herself in her own future with a 51 year old body. Oona needs to orient herself in an entirely new time with a short letter from last year’s Oona to guide her. She also has to learn new technologies, all while missing the life and friends she left behind. Each year as the clock ticks over to her birthday, she jumps to a seemingly random new year in her own life. She has to figure out where she is up to, while also growing into the person she wants to be.
The concept behind The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart is crazy! It takes a few chapters to clearly understand what is happening as Oona herself is trying to understand the boundaries of her existence. It feels like it should be disjointed and confusing and yet it works. As the reader, we go along for the ride not knowing if it is possible for Oona to make choices in the past that will change her already-lived future, especially regarding her relationships. Even though the set-up of this book is its primary feature, the character of Oona is well developed and relatable. Montimore writes with expert skill to orchestrate the circumstances in which each set of events comes to be, even amongst Oona’s best efforts to alter them. There’s a delicious joy in reading this book and unlocking the puzzle of events in a non-linear timeline.
Get the picture
There was a time mid-book where I wondered if we would have to follow Oona for her entire life to get the full picture of what happens to her, or if we would skip years to fit in the story. Over the course of eight years (in the order that Oona experiences them) we are privy to a wide sample of Oona’s life, enough to fill in the blanks and understand how the ‘future’ pans out. Much like the 2013 movie About Time, The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart captures the sweet possibility of time travel as tool to enjoy life, with the reassurance of knowing what the future holds enough to truly appreciate the present.
There is so much more to this book that gives it gravitas and suspense, but for fear of robbing you the enjoyment of discovering it for yourself I don’t want to say more. Just trust me, it’s worth it. In this case, the less you know, the better.
If you are looking for a novel to read for pleasure, but want something fresh and different, you have found it. The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart is a compelling and engaging read. It’s interesting, enjoyable and unlike anything I have read before. It’s both easy to read and will make you think. I laughed and cried a little, and sat bolt upright gripping the book and turning pages furiously in moments. Give yourself a gift and enjoy this delicacy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Imprint: Gollancz (Hachette)
Format: paperback, 336 pages
Category: fiction, time travel