I am an avid fan of the Ring of Fire series and hoped for the best here.
Unfortunately, Mrs. DeMarce techniques seem unable keep the book interesting. While the various short stories are interlaced, they are also not about any character we care about - nor are any of the characters made interesting. Viewing a boring story from multiple angles doesn't help in the end.
Another reviewer had it correct: the multiple-married postal carrier is the most interesting and yet even his story seemed unfinished and barely went anywhere.
I think there are two main issues I have with the book:
1. In general, none of the characters evolve. Sure, they die or get married, but they, as people, never change. They are static characters with little to tell them apart.
2. The author uses a horrible technique - writing short scenes (one paragraph to a few pages), from different areas in the world, and/or with different characters. In the hands of a great writer one might get a feeling of flow and connectedness, but here it just breaks up the narrative into non-interesting bits that you are left wondering about: as in "why was it written at all".
Actually, I shouldn't have been surprised by my lack of enjoyment with this book. The other two books in the Ring of Fire series on the bottom of my enjoyment scale are "The Dreeson Incident" and "The Bavarian Crisis" - both of which she also had a hand in.
Maybe next book she will stop telling us about who everyone is related to and find an interesting bit of action or intrigue to write about.
I was going to end the review here, but then I remembered the summary on the back cover of the book. It, in part, reads "... continues the saga of the time lost Americans as seen through the eyes of both Americans and Europeans: from 'downtimers' marveling at the exhibits in a museum of the 20th century to a Lutheran minister trying to decide if the women's new apparel copied from the West Virginians is prohibited by scripture. ..." It goes on for another line or so.
I know a book is bad when I haven't a clue what these lines are referring to. I want to read the stories referred to here! But the closest we come is a story about a man looking at a mimeograph machine in a museum, figuring out how to downtime it, and then the outcome is referred to in a different story. Nothing about the rest of the museum, nothing about anything really. The museum was, maybe, 5 pages. Total. And we hear nothing of the other marvels on display. So the museum noted in the summary of the book on the back is a minor, minor scene. The book is a larger story having little to do with the museum.
This is just one example. Each line in the summary blurb is exactly like that though...
Sigh. (A frustrated sigh at that.)