Friday, July 02, 2021

Fiction Review: The Lost Time Accidents

I finished my 3rd Big Book of the summer, The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray. I heard about this book years ago on a podcast called The Readers, back when it was hosted by Simon and Gavin. Like me, Gavin said he loves time travel novels or any stories that play with time, and he said this book was one of his all-time favorites. It’s been on my TBR list ever since, and my husband gave it to me for Christmas last year. Describing the plot of this intricate, unusual, funny novel will be a challenge, but I’ll give it my best shot.


It’s a multi-generational family story that integrates science and history, beginning in the early 1900’s and going through the present, where the narrator, a young man named Waldemar "Waldy" Tolliver, is “stuck outside of time.” His great-grandfather, grandfather, and great-uncle were all physicists in the early years of the century who believed in alternate theories of time and considered Einstein an enemy (they refer to him simply as “the patent clerk”). Waldy’s great-grandfather, Ottokar, was killed moments after making a stunning discovery about the nature of time. His notes were lost, so trying to put the puzzle pieces back together becomes a family obsession that spans the generations. Waldy’s very eccentric hoarder aunts, whose apartment he is stuck in, followed in the family footsteps, but his own father, an author of smutty sci-fi, adamantly distanced himself from the rest of the family and believed in science and realism. Waldemar doesn’t know what to believe, and worse, as an older teen, he discovers he was named after his great-uncle, perhaps the most-time-obsessed one of all, who’d been one of the most notorious Nazis to experiment on humans (time experiments, of course). The framework for the book is young Waldy writing his family history while he is stuck outside of time in his aunts' crazy apartment.


So, let me just say upfront that this is a very weird book (in case you couldn’t tell from the description), with a lot of moving parts … but I enjoyed it! It’s an odd story, but it’s also complex, engaging, and filled with clever humor that often had me laughing out loud (the titles of Waldy’s dad’s sci-fi stories and novels are especially amusing). The author really dives deep into historical context and setting, following the family from Central Europe to America from the turn of the century into modern times, through many major world events. I was easily able to lose myself in the story, though I sometimes had to look back a chapter or two to make sure I understood it and hadn’t missed anything, since (no surprise) it jumps around in time a bit, from past to present and back again. This unique novel blends science, history, and family drama into a time-twisting plot, and it was a lot of fun!

491 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


I normally recommend purchasing books from, where your purchase supports the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local! However, this particular book is only available on their site as an audio CD.

So, here is a link to the book on Amazon (as an older title, the hardcover is less expensive that the paperback).


Or you can order The Lost Time Accidents (paperback) from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this book—you're making such fast progress on the challenge! I really need to get my next big book read. This story sounds quite entertaining and clever, with all the theories of time and moving around time and being stuck outside of time! Also, I am always confused when the paperback of a book costs more than the hardcover! Thanks so much for the great post!

    1. I pretty much devote my summer to Big Books - this one took over 3 weeks to finish!

  2. Having to look back a chapter or two or a page or a few paragraphs) is one of the reasons I prefer books in print. It's just too difficult to do that on a kindle/iPad or audio.

    1. Yes, I totally agree! I have a Kindle but almost never use it.