Book Review: Joanne Harris’ “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller”

Posted December 20, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Joanne Harris’ “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller”

Doctor Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller (Time Trips)


Joanne Harris

It is part of the Time Trips, series and is a science fiction, time travel that was published by Ebury Publishing on September 4, 2014 and has 80 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Peaches for Father Francis, Chocolat, The Girl With No Shadow

A short story in the Time Trips / Dr. Who science fiction series.

This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Ebury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

My Take

Harris definitely catches the flavor of Dr. Who, although I suspect I’m too caught up in the television series and it’s having an effect on my perspective!

There’s a feel of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty with Alice in Wonderland and, of course, Dr. Who along with the isolation of The Prisoner with a touch of Hitchcock and a bit of Oz in this fantastical tale.

It’s starts so sweetly — I love Harris’ description of the village. Sounds like one of those from the Cotswolds. But Harris quickly shoves us over the cliff, and she continues to keep us off balance as she provides the setting for the ideal village with the ideal medicines — rose hip syrup for cough medicine. Yeah!

Only this Queen is not the one about to yell “off with his head”! We’ll leave that to the Gyre, the one who doesn’t like doctors and would really hate a Villager who called himself, the Doctor.

It’s a horror-filled village, and I loved the concept of it. I do wish that I hadn’t had to think so much about how it all works. Yeah, it’s sad enough when we finally penetrate in and learn the reason for this stage setting, but after all the dwelling on the awfulness of the place, I wish Harris had dwelt a little more on the psyche behind it all.

It’s also possible that some of my annoyance stems from how short this was. I wanted more!

The Story

It’s the Parade that starts up the fun in the Village, and all too quickly we discover the horror of it when the Milkman makes a break for it. He doesn’t fit the Wellness Code and woe betide anyone who breaks it.

Only, the Gyre hasn’t take into account the non-Policeman who steps out of the policeman’s box…

The Characters

The Doctor, a Time Lord, is dying. Always too cocky for words, he took that one step too far. The TARDIS is his blue police box.

Alice, the Queen, is leery of wishes and fun, and terrified of dreams and tears. Polly is her daughter.

The Village…
…with its Baker, Postman, Milkman (yeahhh, yeahh, Patrick was his name), the Grocer in his striped apron, the Butcher, the officious Village Policeman, the Farmer, the Farmer’s Wife, a Flower Girl, a Grandmother, a Delivery Man, annnddd the Princess.

Taking part in the Wellness Parade are clockwork Dragoons, pastel Ponies, a Bear, a Clockwork Clown, a Doll, a sad Pierrot, dancing Dwarves, drunken Pirates, and a Mouse.

The Gyre keeps the, um, pieces, wait, I mean peace.

The Cover and Title

The cover is weird. You’d never believe it went with the story inside, although it does convey a very lonely feeling with its multiple black gears attached to that shapeful yellow background, half-buried in a silvery grass (it could be a spiky sort of sand??) The background is more of the same rising up to form the sides of mountains under a purple and black sky.

The title is too true, and the Doctor feels all “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller”, as he counts off the minutes until he dies.