When it comes to her relationship with Anthony, Lucy is stuck in a rut. There’s no excitement anymore: the passion is just gone. Worst of all, when she plays her nighttime game “Who would I most like to sleep with right now?” Anthony doesn’t even make the top three. At a loss, Lucy finally decides that it’s time for their relationship to end. After all, it was only supposed to be a one-night stand.
To complicate matters, Lucy finds a time machine at work which her boss unceremoniously dumps on her due to the sheer size of the thing (the fact that Lucy lied to her boss may have had a little to do with it). Lucy decides to try it out - what harm can it do? It’s a time machine; it’s not like it will work.
So begins Lucy’s time-traveling adventures to discover more about men, whether it be the perfect lover (Lord Byron) or the author of the first “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”-type relationship book (Ovid). Her travels include many unexpected exploits: getting arrested, near-death experiences, helping a woman give birth – all sorts of crazy experiences. The one thing that Lucy really didn’t count on was that her time traveling would make her take a hard look at her life and reevaluate the decisions she’s made.
The idea behind The History of Lucy's Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters is unique and appealing. Time traveling to experience history’s foremost lovers and thinkers firsthand is a thought that probably speaks to a lot of women. Although Lucy’s “one-night stand” mentality may or may not be one the reader agrees with, it’s hard to argue against the idea that a woman traveling back in time to kidnap Casanova is delightful and funny.
The problem comes with the execution. First off, the book is too long. It really seems endless, especially considering Lucy doesn’t even begin using the time machine until a quarter through the book. Her adventures, while amusing, don’t seem to sit well. In a daydream, it’s inevitable that the dreamer is the center of attention - but Lucy’s experiences aren’t supposed to be dreams. It’s therefore difficult to swallow that she be the catalyst for so many famous circumstances. Though the book is not supposed to be about believability, it sometimes pushes the limits a little too far.
Then there’s Lucy herself. She’s whimsical and fun, but also emotionally immature, constantly running away from everything in her life rather than facing what’s in front of her. The time-traveling experiences appear to be designed so that Lucy gains a level of maturity with each jump in time. Wright is clearly trying to give Lucy some emotional depth; it’s just unclear whether she actually succeeds in doing so.
The History of Lucy's Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters is definitely different and very whimsical; if you’re in the mood for a fun, light read, it’s a decent pick worth reading simply for the interesting and fun premise. As long as you don’t read too closely, you should enjoy it well enough.