A Matter of Time

Beverly Byrne, Author Villard Books $18.95 (564p) ISBN 978-0-394-56287-2
At the heart of this complex, provocative, suspenseful novel is the missing Alexandria Testament, a document written shortly after the Crucifixion and purported to contain revelations about ""the relations between the synagogue and the infant Church,'' plus indications that ``Christianity was much more Jewish . . . in its early days than has heretofore been admitted.'' Only two people, Sarah Myles and Dov Levi, may unwittingly possess clues to this document's whereabouts. Sarah has intermittently heard a baffling sequence of four musical notes in her head since her childhood in Massachusetts, and she has visions of a scroll and candles. In Paris, Dov, an Israeli unknown to Sarah, hears the same music and experiences mental images of sheets of unworked silver. To account for such phenomena, Byrne invokes Jung's theory of ``racial memory,'' to theorize that descendants of the testament's author would share these recollections culled from the collective unconscious. As Sarah and Dov grapple with their torments, two men stalk them, each desperate to locate the testament first: Cardinal Dom Malachy Fanti, a fanatic anti-Semite rumored to be the next pope, and Dachau survivor Yitzhak Beklem. Despite a labyrinthine plot and numerous characters, this is an exciting tapestry whose disparate, unpredictable strands intertwine remarkably well. Byrne (Women's Rites) transports the reader from contemporary Boston, London and Paris to ancient Alexandria, Palestine in the 1920s and Dachau, maintaining tension and credibility all the way. (September 28)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-449-13437-5
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