Joanne Harris, author of many book including the critically acclaimed Blackberry Wine and Chocolat, joins the Whovian universe with Dr. Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller, a novella starring the Third Doctor. The book immediately jumps into the action, invokes a surreal setting reminiscent of a number of Doctor Who episodes and engages through relationship, as the Doctor in wont to do. Very quickly we no that all is not right in the world and there is an enemy. Ms. Harris establishes all she needs for the story quickly whilst avoiding lengthy monologues or explanations. She does a nice job of creating the atmosphere with quick brush strokes of words.
[Full disclosure: I received a review copy from Netgalley for an honest review.]
Nicely enough, the Third Doctor’s personality (along with most of the other Doctors) lends itself to a novella due to his natural risk-taking and diving, head first, into danger. As events quickly come a crescendo, the Doctor not only assesses the situation accurately, but recognizes and acts on a potential solution, albeit a risky solution. I will admit, however, that some of her imagery had me envisioning Matt Smith rather than Jon Pertwee, such as when a character looks “…at him gravely. ‘You’re funny,’ she said. ‘i’ll have you know, young lady [reference a girl], that some people consider me dashing,’ said the Doctor, adjusting his bow tie.” I can easily see the Third Doctor saying this, but, alas, Matt Smith comes to mind.
One of the highlights of the book is some embedded references of Goethe’s Faust. She hints that Goethe basing Faust on another Time Lord and meeting with Goethe himself. It’s really fun to see how she links the desire to manipulate time to make things better and Faust’s temptation (as well as the condition that he will be pulled to Hell if he ever reaches a point in his life where he wants time to stop). It also has a poignant ending that nicely wraps up the story.
This wonderful, brief read will leaving you wanting for more while appreciating what you get. That’s exactly where a novella ought to leave us.