(Blurb for A Second Chance from GoodReads) St Mary’s is back and nothing is going right for Max. Once again, it’s just one damned thing after another.
The action jumps from an encounter with a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton to the bloody battlefield at Agincourt. Discover how a simple fact-finding assignment to witness the ancient and murderous cheese-rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC – concussion by cheese. The long-awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy ends in personal catastrophe for Max and just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse – it’s back to the Cretaceous Period again to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose.
So, make the tea, grab the chocolate biscuits, settle back and discover exactly why the entire history department has painted itself blue …
A Second Chance is the third book in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor. It features many of the characters from the first two novels and is told from the perspective of Madeleine ‘Max’ Maxwell. The story has all the endearing qualities of its predecessors; marvellously humorous with a very British ‘feel’ about it. But beware, it will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions in this instalment.
It starts off badly for Max when she is asked to take Professor Eddington Penrose back to Cambridge, 1668 so that he could see Charles Darwin in his prime. Max is given the task because she is the only member of the department that is not covered from head to toe in blue dye! For those that are new to St. Mary’s, Max is a historian who, along with other members of her department travel back in time.
I turn my back for one day. Just one bloody day. And when I get back my department – my entire department – is blue!
As with Just One Damned Thing After Another and A Symphony of Echoes, the story recounts a variety of historical journeys. However, a major part of this novel is taken up by the Trojan war. As any fan of the series knows, Max is fascinated with Troy. She’s even got a tiny wooden horse, given to her by Chief Farrel (Leon). So it was inevitable that someday she would end up recording the final days of the war.
It’s a long project with quite a few team members taking on two trips. The first jump beginning many months before the war began lasting months. The second journey near the end of the war recording exactly how the Greeks sacked the city. The first trip passes without incident and the team have reported as much as they need. The second trip however is a different matter because they visit the city in the midst of the war. Some of the scenes described are quite vivid and brutal, sometimes depressing. Because Max is a historian, she knows and tells us what is going to happen to various characters wart and all.
As ever, the pace in A Second Chance is brisk and I flew through the pages in no time. The characters once again are amazing and at times it felt like I was in the middle of an Ealing Comedy. This is especially true when in the confines of St. Mary’s. But there are also tough, sad and darker parts to this story. As I said earlier it’s a bit of a rollercoaster…
So would I recommend A Second Chance? Of course! It’s another fantastic story from Jodi Taylor. My only reservation is that the ending was all a bit bonkers, which took me completely by surprise.